In New Testament times, when the believers at Philippi wished to send a gift to Paul at Rome, Epaphroditus, a worthy member of the assembly, was entrusted with the task of carrying it and bringing news of Paul’s work and circumstances on his return. So today, following the same pattern, our desire at the Lord’s Work Trust is to act as a channel through which believers and assemblies can forward gifts to the Lord’s servants and His work and, in turn, receive up-to-date information from the various spheres of service.
Around 1890, well over 100 years ago, John Ritchie of Kilmarnock, Scotland, commenced a little magazine called The Believer’s Magazine As news of missions was not easily obtained at this time of great missionary expansion, he started including reports from missionaries on the field in the magazine. These were designed to encourage prayer for these dear servants of the Lord. In turn many believers, realizing he was in touch with the foreign field, sent funds to him understanding that he was in a position to pass them on to those overseas. And so, almost unwittingly and from these small beginnings, the Lord’s Work Trust was established.
Today it is still based in Kilmarnock, and is now a fully registered UK charity. In our last financial year over £2.5 million pounds was passed through the Trust to the work of the Lord.
We are sometimes asked what is the work of the Trust? Our main function is to act as a channel for funds from assemblies and individuals to assembly-based workers and related works. Over the years we have built up considerable knowledge and expertise in this difficult process, enabling us to do it effectively, and transfer funds to the Lord’s servants in the most beneficial way. All gifts are forwarded without deduction of expenses. At the end of each month, when we forward funds entrusted to us, we write to hundreds of our brothers and sisters serving the Lord both at home and abroad, and receive up-to-date reports of their work from their field of service. In the exercise of forwarding funds to the Lord’s servants and work, we can assist assemblies, and individuals on the most advantageous methods of transferring gifts. Increasingly we find that Gift Aid is becoming an important help in this exercise, as considerably increased amounts can be forwarded by taxpayers who make use of this provision made by the government. We are also familiar with the distribution of legacies, and are able to provide advice on this subject.
We also have a Relief Fund through which we help to relieve suffering and disaster in many parts of the world. This is an ongoing exercise that allows us to respond rapidly to developing problems, and need not await large disasters becoming headline news.
We also seek to encourage a prayerful interest in the Lord’s work abroad through Look on the Fields. This leaflet is published monthly and distributed free of charge. It is compiled from the many letters from missionaries we receive in the office. It encourages daily prayer for the work. Sample copies of this leaflet are available on request.
From time to time, and as opportunities arise, we visit missionaries on their field of service to encourage them and learn more of their work. This enables us to gain insight into the difficulties and problems that many face, and to share in their joys and disappointments. This is helpful when those contemplating serving the Lord approach us for advice. We are also pleased to speak with assembly elders about such matters when assistance is requested.
The Lord’s Work Trust owns the publishing house of John Ritchie Ltd. It publishes and also distributes a comprehensive range of Christian literature, including The Believer’s Magazine. Ritchie’s is run as a separate entity, with all profits going to the work of the Trust. Through this relationship, the Trust is able to make available Scriptures and helpful literature for the spread of the gospel and the establishment of the Lord’s people, especially in underprivileged countries. We also make funds available for translation work and assist publication of Christian literature in other languages and help forward the work of the Lord in any appropriate way.
If there is some way in which you, as a believer, feel we could assist you in the various matters mentioned above, we would be very pleased to hear from you. We have a selection of brochures dealing with many of these subjects, which we would send you. We would also be happy to visit assemblies to speak about the work of the Trust. For more information please write to The Secretary, Lord’s Work Trust, 42 Beansburn, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire KA3 1RH, U.K., or telephone +44(0)1563 521098.