In these times of depression, our evangelists will feel the curtailment of funds to provide helpers and advertising material. In many places we have in former years measured the prospects of success by the amount of money provided to put into the enterprise. It is, of course, true that we must advertise and have help; but our eyes must be on the Lord, and not on material things.
These hard times may prove a blessing to our work if they cause us to look more to the Lord, and less to material things. When John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea, he did not have much equipment for carrying on his work, nor did he spend large sums in advertising; but there was a power in his preaching that drew great crowds to hear the man "sent from God" with a living message. Nor did Paul and his companions have many paid workers or much money for advertising, but they did have a mighty message and the power of the Holy Spirit in proclaiming it. They were not without workers, however. In Paul's letter to the Romans he mentions more than twenty-five names of believers in Rome who had been his "helpers" or had "labored much in the Lord."
The present shortage of funds should lead us to study apostolic methods and power. The Lord is surely leading this movement, and He never leads backward. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future. Too many times we look to the creation instead of to the Creator; the earth instead of the "heavenly places."
That evangelistic efforts following the apostolic plan can be held, with little expense, yet with an abundance of help, has been demonstrated in many places. Brother L. H. Gardiner was asked to conduct a tabernacle effort in Barbados, and was told that there was no money for helpers or other expenses. After studying the instruction given through the Spirit of prophecy on what the layman should do at this time, he determined to train the church members for his helpers, and let them be his advertising agency. Earnest efforts were put forth in training the members, and getting them to see their duty toward the work God expected them to do. The response was wonderful.
If you should happen in at one of their prayer-social meetings, you would conclude that nearly every member of the church was a Bible worker. I was deeply stirred as I listened to the thrilling experiences of scores of people, telling of the results of their visits to their neighbors. The reports showed that each member was visiting from two to fourteen homes every week. I said to Elder Gardiner, "You have the best help that any evangelist ever had. They know the people, and can tell them how they themselves left the world or some other church, and how God has cared for them, because they have had the experience."
As the result of this effort, 150 persons were baptized during the first six months of 1931. The public effort lasted about five weeks; but since the effort closed, Elder Gardiner has been kept more than busy instructing and preparing for baptism those who have been brought into the truth by the lay members. He has a continuous baptismal class of from thirty to forty. By the time one class is ready for baptism an equal number have joined the class for baptism at some future time. The Lord is adding "to the church daily" such as shall be saved.
The blessing of this work is not only in seeing souls saved, but the church itself is having a wonderful experience. Where in times past there was faultfinding and grumbling, today that has all been forgotten as the minds of the members have been turned to work for others.
Why should we not so conduct our efforts as to call all our church members into action? Is not this the call of God at this time? Are not, these experiences the fulfillment of what is given to us in the "Testimonies," Volume IX, page 126?
"In visions of the night representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families, and opening before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great blessings were received by the true and humble people of God."
Balboa, Canal Zone.