The Expository Files

Remembering Glenn Rogers

Christians all along the border between Texas and Mexico grieve the passing Glenn Rogers (Dec. 18, 2003). With his faithful companion, Loyce, hard work was done in taking the gospel to Hispanics on both sides of the Rio Grande Valley. Wayne Partain, Joaquin Blengio and Warren Berkley spoke in two services in memory of Glenn’s work. Here are excerpts from my part of the service.

Bro. Wayne Partain and Bro. Joaquin Blengio have known Glenn Rogers and worked with him for many years. Therefore, they can speak with direct knowledge and experience about Glenn and the work of preaching he was devoted to. I want to speak to you about some things I believe must be said – about Glenn and the other men who preached up and down this Valley, on both sides of the border and into the interior of Mexico; who did such great work & made such sacrifice, there are congregations, families and individuals forever thankful that these men brought to them the gospel of Christ.

There are five things I want you to know about Glenn Rogers and other men who did this kind of work in the 50’s and 60’s. There are some things I know Glenn would want us to say on this occasion. We will get to those themes. But first, these things must be said.

1. There was no money to be made in this work. These men were not doing the work for high salary. Many today may not realize how this worked. Men like Glenn would preach here in the Valley, over the border and into the interior – responding to invitations and opportunities – often, not knowing if they would even have their expenses covered; and sometimes, knowing there expenses would not be covered. Men who did this work, typically, would receive support from several churches. Generally, small amounts from various places to supply a meager monthly income. Men like Glenn would report back to these supporting congregations, accounting for what they received. Sometimes, these preachers would open the mail, find their monthly support check, and in the same envelope, a letter from an elder or treasurer – saying something like – “we appreciate your good work and will continue to pray for you, but because of our budget and local expenses, this will be your last check.” So as these good men preached the gospel in remote regions and to poor people – they would not know what their monthly income would be. There was no money to be made in this work. Only the knowledge and joy of duty; pleasing God; saving souls and enriching the lives of new Christians by teaching the Word. These men, like Glenn, often used part of their meager support to print tracts, to provide poor people with Bibles and clothes to wear. There was no money to be made in this work. These men exhibited the self-denial and attitude of Paul, who said: “What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge…,” (1 Cor. 9:18).

2. There was not the acclaim of men, typical in secular professions where men excel in some chosen career. Faithful brethren deeply appreciated the work of Glenn and Loyce, but there was not great acclaim from the world or tribute to be enjoyed. There was no motive of popularity. Glenn and Loyce did the work, not expecting the praise of the world. I believe they understand and sought only, God’s glory.

3. I want people today to know – when times of controversy came – not only were preachers like Glenn not supported well and not praised – they were opposed. The time came, in the 50’s and 60’s, for men like Glenn Rogers to tell people things they didn’t want to hear – from the Bible, regarding the work of the church. It would have been easy for these men to remain silent; or to move around on either side of the issues for personal advantage. Wayne Partain, Bill Reeves, Glenn Rogers and others with them could not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Conscience and commitment to truth governed them to study the matters under debate and then speak according to the oracles of God, regardless of consequence. As described in Eph. 4:15, they spoke the truth in love. And as the charge was given to Timothy, they charged men not to teach a different doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3). May our prayer be for God to raise up such men in our time.

4. I want us to know, the work was physically and mentally demanding. These men, who spread the gospel in this area [Rio Grande Valley, Texas] and took the truth to the poor – did not sit in offices all day; didn’t play much golf or fish often. The circumstances were hard; the sacrifices great; the trips were exhausting, often down dangerous roads and to places many preachers today simply would never go.

5. Fifth, Glenn was the best friend a preacher could ever have! He helped many Spanish-speaking preachers, many of them still preaching the gospel today. He would help them write their letters to American churches; carry their checks to them; buy supplies for them; pray with them and help them learn to preach. There are men in this audience [reading this article] who thank God for the work Glenn did to help them, teach them and encourage them in what is right. Like Paul to Timothy, Glenn nurtured young men in the faith and was a model of character and integrity for them.

But let me add - As you consider Glenn’s great work and influence, you know there was a faithful partner who helped him, loved him, shared the sacrifice and became his wonderful care-giver. His godly wife, Loyce. The kind of work I have described required strong wives, with the same kind of commitment as the preacher! Loyce continues to have that commitment to the Lord. And she is worthy of our praise. “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates,” (Prov. 31:31). And in verse 28 of that chapter: “Her children rise up and call her blessed…,” and Glenn often spoke of her in appreciation of virtue and sacrifice.

She has become, for us at Laurel Heights [church of Christ, McAllen, Tx.], the living example of what it means to love and care for your spouse. She gives new meaning to the expression, primary caregiver. Most of us do not know the intensity of work, the patience, the daily courage required – to provide care for one who suffers with the disease that Glenn had. We believe, such care can be provided only by prayer; by the activity of faith; by the devotion of genuine love, and the willingness to sacrifice so prominent in the teachings of the Bible.

Now – Why would a man do this? Why would you give your life to a work, that yielded no financial reward; that served no purpose in generating the praise of men; that involved hardship, risk and would expose you to the criticism of men. WHY? Why learn another language? Why wait in lines to cross the border and drive the dirt roads of the interior? Why do all this, especially when you have the mental ability and academic record to achieve worldly success and have the acclaim of men. WHY?

To proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ; to deliver the only message that can save people from their sin; to announce the Good News to the poor; to teach and preach the Word of God.

And that brings me to the matter Glenn would want us to concentrate on, The Word of God. He would want us to be admonished to read, to believe, to study and to obey the Word of God. He would want us to be reminded of what is written. Glenn would appeal to people as Samuel to Saul in 1 Sam. 9:27 – “…you stand here a while, that I may announce to you the Word of God.” Glenn Rogers would affirm in his preaching – that every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him (Prov. 30:5). Glenn delivered many sermons, designed to convey the same message spoken by our Lord when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God,” (Luke 4:4). And he would say to people what Jesus said in Luke 11:28 – “…blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”

 By Warren E. Berkley
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From Expository Files 11.1, January 2004