The beginning of the new year is a new beginning in many ways. Then it is that we usually make new resolves; business is checked up, and plans are laid for enlargement or curtailment; inventories in material and spiritual things are taken; and we really make a new start.
Now the fundamental work of the gospel minister is to make converts who will be saved in the kingdom of God. It is his calling, his vocation, his business, to effect reconciliation between the sinner and God. That ministry of reconciliation has been committed to men who have been called of God to speak in His name, to represent His kingdom, and thus to become His ambassadors.
The new year ought to see more souls won to Christ than we have ever won before. The world seems ready, waiting, for a message of faith built on the word of God. Our work is rapidly extending, new fields are being opened, and new sections in large language areas are being entered. This cheers our hearts. Yet all this activity and spending of funds is for but one purpose, and that is to get a people ready for the second coming of Christ.
In order to get the most out of the year, it is essential that evangelistic campaigns be studied, and a fixed purpose adhered to, and that all be early set in motion. Time counts. An early start may not always be a wise start, but it usually is an important factor in success. Many great undertakings have failed because they were begun too late. Many battles have been lost by waiting. "Today" is the Bible phrase for doing what is to be done.
Usually the president of the union or local conference cannot be held alone responsible for the success or failure of any man; nor can committees be blamed for a fruitless year in a worker's ministry. Each worker must take a large degree of responsibility for what he does or fails to do in, a year's work. He is paid for service. His work is to enlarge the kingdom of God by preaching the everlasting gospel to sinners, and winning them to become children of God by faith. Said Christ to His disciples, "As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." There is action in all this. It is assuredly not idling that accomplishes great things, but work, work, work. Souls are to be won for Christ, and we are the workmen.
This means earnest, persevering prayer, coupled with hard labor month by month throughout the year. Results follow prayer and toil as surely as night follows day. Every industry and all of life's successes are promoted by faithful work. From ease and indolence even the world rarely yields a rich harvest; but toil is generally rewarded with gains and profits. So it is in soul winning. Our motto ought to be: Preach! Preach the word! Preach every day!
An early start in the campaign for souls gives all the advantage to one who begins to work early in the year as compared to one who allows months to pass before he arouses himself to effort. All nature builds in the early year. Ancient Israel started their yearly calendar with spring, while nature was moved by the forces of vigorous growth and expansion. So every worker should plan his year's work and his ingathering of souls at the earliest date possible, that he may have the whole twelve months of 1932 as a time for sowing the gospel seed.
We can easily win from 10,000 to 12,000 souls in 1932 if we all set ourselves to the task early in the year, and work and pray as we ought. I like that wonderful statement in the "Testimonies" (Vol. IX, page 189) : "If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tender-hearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one." Why not let this promise find fulfillment in our experience as far as complying with the conditions is concerned, and then through intercession and hard work try to make the promise ours? The Spirit will co-operate.
The church should be organized and trained for real soul-winning service. There is a mighty power when the church works and prays and labors with the ministry. Our members are ready and willing helpers when under consecrated leadership and training. Why not train the lay members to win souls to Christ under the minister? It will pay richly. The success of the best of preaching is greatly increased by help from the laity. Set them to work in earnest for the lost.
It is ours to undertake a great work for 1932.
I. H. E