Christian Workers’ Relief Fund
For many people, overseas missionary work is considered exciting and out of the ordinary, whereas similar work in the homeland does not seem quite so special. Sadly, this disparity filters through to support in prayer and in practical ways. In the 1940s, at least three Funds existed in different parts of the country to provide financial and practical aid for full-time workers in the U.K. in times of real need. All three were small and received limited support. One of these Funds was operated by the ‘Harvester’ magazine and was known as the Home Workers' Sick and Incapacitated Fund. The others were small local Funds, one in the Merseyside area and the other covering the West Country and South Wales.
The West Country Fund had grown out of the concern of Harry Cooper, a young man in Bristol, that much less support was given to home workers than to missionaries serving overseas. With the blessing of his local assembly, Harry started to send church and small personal gifts to evangelists in the West and also to visit them in their homes or during their tent and village missions to encourage them and to pass on parcels of tracts and other gifts. Subsequently, together with Edward R. Short (father of Professor A. Rendle Short) he set up ‘Western Home Workers' Remembrance Fund’ and, as this became known, gifts were received from many sources including Sir John Laing. Harry has continued to have a real burden for the support of Home Workers and today, at 90 years of age, he still plays a very active part in the work of C.W.R.F.
Observing the excellent work of the ‘Retired Missionary Aid Fund’, the need for a similar national Fund to care for Home Workers was discussed by Harry and Sir John. As a result, in September 1961, Sir John arranged for the United Kingdom Evangelization Trust to convene a meeting at which brethren representing these three Funds met in London to consider how their work could best be widened and made more effective. It was unanimously agreed to discontinue these three funds and to set up a national Fund which it was hoped would command much wider support. The new ‘Homeworkers’ Fund' was therefore inaugurated, to be operated by a committee of seven brethren (W. G. Norris, Chairman, H. Lindsey Barker, Secretary, L. F. Guy, G. C. D. Howley, L. W. Stark, F. F. Stunt and F. A. Tatford), aided by a further nine brethren who resided in different parts of the country and who would make the Fund known and also communicate news of workers in need back to the operating committee.
The help and support provided by the Homeworkers’ Fund has continued to grow year by year, and has been a source of blessing and encouragement to many of the Lord’s servants. In 1988 the name was changed to ‘Christian Workers' Relief Fund’ and, in order to comply with new Charity laws, from December 1998, has been governed by a new Charity Commissioners' Scheme (Ref: 234676). The objects of the Fund are as follows:
‘to relieve aged, sick and poor evangelists and teachers (in connection with churches now or formerly known as “Open” or “Christian” Brethren) and those of their number who suffer need, hardship or distress and who have served, or who are serving the Lord and His people in the United Kingdom, and the dependents of such’.
Currently, the Fund is administered by eleven trustees under the chairmanship of Philip Dalling of Bath covering all areas of the country. No trustee receives any remuneration but the reward, if any were needed, is in having a tiny part in God's faithful and loving daily provision for His children. Extracts of letters like the following are so moving:
’How can I tell you just what this token of your love and generosity means? No heating worries, extras in the larder, and the joy of contemplating where and on what to wisely use the remainder. The Lord knew just when I needed yet another token of His promise to always provide for us. I do thank you for being so in tune with our Saviour and Friend, I know He will reward you’.
‘Greetings and praise to the Lord for His gracious provision in the gift received. It arrived in the same post as the repair bill for our leaking roof. God's timing is always perfect’.
‘This blessing that you have sent us has really touched our hearts. We just had to lift our voices in prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord that you should care for us in such a wonderful way, and for His faithfulness in meeting our needs through all the years and especially now when our ministry is curtailed’.
Enquiries will be welcomed by the Secretary: Dr Keith B. Linton, 22 Bromley Drive, Downend, Bristol BS16 6JQ, U.K. Tel: +44(0)117 9560990
Gifts would be greatly appreciated, sent to: The Treasurer, C.W.R.F., PO Box 2880, Bath, BA2 6WR, U.K.