William Olney and Joseph Passmore were deacons for many years at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle during the pastorate of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. They helped to restore the office of the diaconate to its original Biblical basis: serving for the poor. Their busy ministry in service to the needy involved the administration of almshouses, orphanages, relief missions, training schools, retirement homes, tract societies, and colporterages.
In a lecture to young Bible college students in 1862, Olney stated, “Deacons are called of God to a magnificent field of service, white unto harvest. . . . Ours is the holy duty of stopping by the way, when all others have passed by, to ministrate Christ's healing. Thus, we take the Good Samaritan as our model, lest the pilgrim perish.”
To that same audience, Passmore said, “It is ironic indeed that our type of diaconal faithfulness comes not from the life of a disciple of our blessed Lord. Nay, not even is our type from the ancient fathers of faith, the Jews. Instead, our type is from the life of a Samaritan. Mongrel, as touching doctrine, this Good Samaritan is all of pedigree as touching righteousness. Oh, that the Church of our day had such men. Oh, that the church of our day bred such men, men of unswerving devotion to the care of the poor and broken-hearted. Oh, that the church of our day was filled with such men, men driven by the Good Samaritan faith . . . offering both word and deed, the fullness of the Gospel.”
According to their pastor, Spurgeon, the two men were able to, “demonstrate that the words of the Gospel could be translated into actual, tangible deeds. As a result, they were to be counted among the greatest evangelists of our day.”