Editor's Letters
by T. Austin-Sparks

March-April 1948

Honor Oak,
London, England.

Beloved of God,

You will see by this letter that we have arrived back here from our visit to the United States and Canada. Our return has been with mixed feelings; on the one hand, feelings of gratitude for all the help that we have received from the Lord, the wonderful kindness from His people everywhere, and the living spiritual fellowship which has been such a help in the ministry; on the other hand, regrets that we were not able to go further and do more. Many friends and places were in our hearts when we set out, and a large number of these have had to be left unvisited on this occasion. Our time was limited and we found that very much just could not be touched. We return with some big questions to hold before the Lord about that great need and any further use we may be to Him in meeting it more fully. Let me say to disappointed friends that I truly share your disappointment, and I really sorrow over not seeing you. We travelled nearly sixteen thousand miles, addressed seventy gatherings apart from many personal and private interviews and conferences, etc. Our journeys took us to many places on three sides of a square - from New Jersey up to Toronto, then across to Vancouver, B.C., and down to Los Angeles, with a dip down to Minnesota on the return. I think that it is true to say that, in every place, without exception, it was the desire of those concerned that we should prolong our stay, or, failing that, return as soon as possible.

The Lord was certainly gracious to us in enabling to fulfil this ministry in life and fulness. What was especially gratifying to us was the great confirmation as to the rightness of the way by which we have been led through these years. We did wonder how the ministry would be received, but we were not left long in doubt. What the Lord has shown, given, and taught us was everywhere received with open heart, and acknowledged to be the very need of His people. The gatherings usually increased in numbers and strength as we went on. No one would or could attribute this to any attraction but the Lord Himself, for our one determined and concentrated aim was to magnify Him, and "to know nothing.... save Jesus Christ and him crucified," and to present Him without any human or worldly features for attraction. It was just a solid getting down to the significance of Christ. As we have been carried through on a veritable tide of prayer, and so many in various parts of the world have contributed to this, may I here say how very much we valued this. We were constantly standing into your prayers and thanking the Lord for them. Please accept our very deeply grateful thanks.

If we were asked what we feel to be the greatest need of the time, in the light of our far-flung travels this year - first as far East as India, and then over U.S.A. and Canada - we should say with strength, the greatest need of the times is a movement of God to bring His people to know the fulness of Christ! Only as the Church is brought into the good of that will the world be adequately touched, and the spiritual forces in this universe be shaken from their hold upon men and things. The evangelism of our times needs much more behind it than it has. The Church is very busy but very ineffective. It is fighting to have itself recognised, but it has little impact upon the powers of darkness, therefore little also upon the world.

We have often pointed out that the things which have become the greatest evangelical and missionary forces have always been movements or ministries which brought God's own people, or new converts, into a far greater measure of Christ and spiritual life than is usual and fairly general. We could easily prove this by mentioning names, but it is not necessary. Our grief is that, in so many of these cases, the enemy has succeeded in making them other than they were at their beginnings. This is the present need, and nothing but this will counter the vitiating, dissipating, diluting, and cheapening course of things in these days, and make the Church able to complete her testimony on the earth in power and triumph. It is time for all who have spiritual responsibility to get down - as far as possible together - to consider the spiritual state of the Church, and, whatever it costs, to be willing to take the way by which the lost fulness of Christ may be recovered! There is no doubt that a situation exists today which corresponds to that which is found in the book of Esther; and the need is for an intercessory instrument coming to the Kingdom "for such a time as this."

And now, being home again, we are much before the Lord as to what His place and measure may be for us in this great need. There are big issues before us to be decided, and a great battle over this ministry. The situation in Britain calls for sovereign interventions of God if we are to meet the demands which press upon us. The many of God's people who desire to come to us here for the ministry, with our Conference Centre so largely destroyed in the war and the persistent refusal of the authorities to allow any repairs to be done, is one aspect of this requirement. The new paper shortage (for the work of God) which stands over against the tremendously increased demand for the "Witness and Testimony" and all the other of our literature is another aspect. There are other equally difficult factors, but we are confident that the Lord will move for the accomplishment of His own intentions. Nevertheless we say with Paul, "I know that... through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ..." So pray much with us, for we seek that those who receive this ministry will not only appreciate the ministry, but share it in constant prayer co-operation.

Remember us as to any further ministry abroad in His will, and in the strengthening of things at home.

With warmest greetings,
Yours in the bonds of Jesus Christ,
T. AUSTIN-SPARKS

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