The Radio in Evangelism

As we have used broadcasting for several years in our evangelistic campaigns, our experience has given me some definite convictions relative to the value of the radio in this work.

By John E. Ford

As we have used broadcasting for several years in our evangelistic campaigns, our experience has given me some definite convictions relative to the value of the radio in this work. The radio is a powerful factor as an advance agent. One Sunday night in Seattle I asked all those who had started to come to the meetings as the result of the radio programs to raise their hands. Hundreds of hands were raised.

We broadcast every week on Sunday afternoon during our campaign in Seattle. From Seattle we went im­mediately to Victoria, British Colum­bia. We were somewhat fearful that we might not have a large crowd the first Sunday night in that conserva­tive British city, but to our surprise the tabernacle was well filled. In introducing myself to the audience, I spoke of our having broadcast over the radio from Seattle, and asked those to raise their hands who had heard some of our programs. Three fourths of the audience responded. I learned later that everywhere in the city our radio programs were listened to faithfully, many saying that they waited all the week for them. The government offi­cials had listened in, and granted ex­emption from customs duty on our equipment. The editor of the largest newspaper had been a listener, and gave us excellent advertising. Nearly every one seemed friendly as soon as it was known we had given these broadcasting programs during the winter.

I have found the radio successful in breaking down prejudice against Sev­enth-day Adventists. Adventists should be able to preach the doctrine of sal­vation by faith in Jesus Christ more strongly than others now; for many reject large portions of the Scriptures. Over the radio we presented only the great doctrines of salvation and the fundamentals of Christianity, avoid­ing such controversial subjects as the Sabbath, the state of the dead, etc.,—subjects that are most successfully pre­sented to individuals face to face, where they cannot turn the dial with­out embarrassment from your service to some other program. The Chris­tian world in general thinks that all that Adventists can talk about is the Sabbath. So when they hear such sub­jects as the keeping power of Christ, etc., presented with a real evangelistic appeal, they lose their feeling of an­tagonism, and are willing to attend an Adventist service at the first op­portunity.

I believe that during the time we have been using the radio here in the Northwest, more friends have been won for Seventh-day Adventists than in all my previous efforts. Preachers of other denominations often tell their congregations that we believe in sal­vation by the works of the law; but after we broadcast several weeks on salvation by faith alone, opposition from this source is greatly reduced.

Useful as the radio is in the ways outlined, I believe it would be a seri­ous mistake for our evangelists to use it in presenting the more controversial points of our faith. In most cases it takes the personal appeal to win a hesitating soul to accept the Sabbath. Not even the public sermons can do as much as the Bible worker in the home to persuade those interested to take a definite stand for this truth.

To the great message of Christ as a personal Saviour the radio lends itself one hundred per cent. When preju­dice in the minds of the people is broken down by this message, and their hearts are touched by the love of Christ, it is not difficult to win them to be real Seventh-day Adventists by presenting the distinctive doctrines of our faith.

The radio is a means of reaching many who might not hear this truth in any other way. Its message goes into the far recesses of the north, into the little but of the desert, to the iso­lated family on the farm, to unfortu­nate shut-ins. It goes into the home of the ruler and the peasant, to the rich and the poor. It goes into the hospital, and brings hope and cheer to the dying. It goes into the prison cell, and points a new way to those unfortunates.

In my desk I have letters from all over the Northwest that would make tears come to your eyes to read. Here is the story of a man who had become despondent, and had decided to end it all, but alone in his room he picked up the earphones and heard the song, "Still Undecided." Jesus found him through the song, and he took new courage to go forward, and wrote to thank us for it all. Here, too, is the story of a woman lying on her death­bed nearly unconscious. She had once been an Adventist, but had drifted away. In a lucid moment she heard the song, "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," followed by an earnest prayer by Pas­tor Everson and a short talk on the love of Jesus and His willingness to save. Then and there she gave her­self fully to Christ. Here are letters wet with tears of gratitude for the new hope and comfort the radio serv­ices have brought, and hundreds of letters asking for prayer. Yet many of these persons have never been to one of our services. They are in iso­lated places, or are shut-ins, and may never have the opportunity of going to one of our church services or of talk­ing to one of our people.

I am convinced that God has placed the radio in our hands as one means of proclaiming quickly to the ends of the earth the great truths of the third angel's message. But we have not availed ourselves of it as we might have done, and already ways are be­ing contrived to debar us from its use.

Not long ago there came to the man­ager of the station over which we broadcast here in Spokane, which is one of the stations on the N. B. C. system, a letter from the assistant vice-president of the National Broadcasting Company, informing this station of recently adopted policies concerning the broadcasting of religion over the radio. This letter the manager turned over to us, and from it I quote:

"The National Broadcasting Com­pany will serve only the central or national agencies of great religious faiths, as for example, the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, and the Jews, as distinguished from individual churches or small group movements where the national membership is com­paratively small."

"The religious message broadcast should be nonsectarian and non­denominational in appeal."

The letter goes on to say that the religious programs over the national system have been turned over to the radio department of the Federal Coun­cil of the Churches of Christ in Amer­ica. From this it is easy to see that we may soon be cut off when we try to do broadcasting on a large scale. How­ever, I believe that if we wake up to the situation, and make the most of present opportunities, we may be able to get good concessions from the broad­casting people if we do not antagon­ize them through the presentation of our divergent doctrines. When these broadcasting companies once establish a precedent, it is hard to change them.

San Diego, Calif.

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By John E. Ford

August 1931

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