By Henry De Flutter
Reduced income in the Southern California Conference forced a revamping of our evangelistic program. A self-supporting policy was launched, not that the conference officials desired to retrench in aggressive evangelism, but that they felt the greater need of bringing in new Sabbath keepers and supporters of our message.
Different sections of the metropolitan area of Los Angeles had called for efforts. The committee decided to grant the request of the Huntington Park church for an effort at South Gate, with the understanding that that church, with the help of near-by churches, would raise the money for materials for the construction of a tabernacle, and that the labor would be free.
It was a new venture, but these churches heroically went about the task, and $600 was raised toward the building. A location was decided upon on one of the main arteries between Los Angeles and Long Beach. The city cooperated by leveling the lot for us free of charge. A call was made in the churches for volunteer labor, and at the time appointed about twenty-five men were on hand to do their part. The sisters of the church provided noonday meals on the grounds. In the course of twenty days the building was ready, with all the facilities of the previous tabernacles.
The conference gave $100 as their share in the expense. We felt from the beginning that God was in the work, and that He would richly bless those who so liberally helped toward its success. However, because of last-minute changes that had to be made, we were in debt $200 when the opening night came.
We advertised in our usual way with handbills, but not in the newspapers. Our tabernacle, when crowded to capacity, seats 1,000; but the opening night found not even standing room available, and for a number of Sunday nights people were turned away. We adjusted our Bible study rooms so as to make them part of the auditorium, but still we were hard-pressed to care for the crowds. We used no spectacular methods to draw the people. Our initial and subsequent advertisements stated that it was a "Seventh-day Adventist Prophetic Bible Lecture Campaign," setting forth the great truths of Bible prophecy and their relation to our present day.
We hired no outside talent to draw 'people, but depended, as is our custom, entirely on those of our people who love the Lord enough to render Him willing service. As usual, our choir was vested, and occasionally new songs on the message provided added interest in the musical feature of the program. Evangelist H. M, S. Richards presented the messages in so forceful and convincing a way that from the beginning people began to make their decision for God. Baptisms were held nearly every Sunday night, and sometimes during the week.
We continued our campaign for four months, during which time over two hundred were baptized. Entire families came in together. A goodly number had been Catholics, some Mormons, others Spiritualists. Many, we are happy to say, came direct from the world. Two ministers of other religious organizations were among the converts, one of whom is now engaged in the colporteur work.
The meetings held in the tabernacle closed in June, with every expense met. Out of the offerings we were enabled to pay, besides all the current expenses, such as lot rent, light, heat, telephone, advertising, etc., the $200 deficit, return to the conference the $100 given at the beginning, and have surplus enough to buy for our next effort one thousand new "Gospel in Song," with the expense of adding our own special supplement, which has proved an attractive feature to our music. Besides all this, during the campaign we raised $250 toward a weekly broadcast of the message over the radio.
The conference plans for the tabernacle to remain intact for future meetings by other evangelists, which seems a wise course to follow. However, the tabernacle is not closed. It is now the regular meeting place of our Huntington Park church, their own church building being far too small to accommodate the augmented attendance.
While the Huntington Park church bore the brunt of the cost, it is refreshing to note that according to a financial report just issued by the conference, the tithe of this church for the first six months of this year is nearly $700 more than for the same period last year, proving again that God will supply all our needs if we set our minds to do His will.
Truly it is "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord." We thank Him for His abundant blessing. The work accomplished is but an omen of the nearness of the end. May the spirit of evangelism, which was the animating power in the early days of this message, burn with ever-increasing fervor until the last soul on the outer circle shall have heard the bridal call, "Come; for all things are now ready."
Huntington Park, Calif.
Working for the Clergy
BY K. A. Macaulay
Membership in the local ministers' association offers an excellent opportunity of getting acquainted with these men whom it is our duty to reach as stewards of God's truth. Being a member of the local association, I find in these contacts open-minded men with whom it is a pleasure to study. At present I am visiting with the president of our association here, and after each visit he gratefully accepts literature on the topic of our conversation. He is pastor of the largest church in the city, and is the most prominent clergyman in the city. He is now studying the Sabbath school lessons from the Quarterly I gave him after our last study on the ministry of angels. He appears to be hungry for closer communion with God as the prophets of old enjoyed it. He believes that the promise of Acts 2:17, "It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams," should be realized by more of our members today. He believes we are living in the last days.
Not only does membership in the association open the door for us to reach the clergy, but it places us before the people of the city in a favorable light. It opens the way for us to share with these clergymen the privilege of ministering to the spiritual needs of those not of our faith. It gives us the privilege of taking our turn with other ministers in the daily radio devotional broadcast. It also gives us the opportunity to share in any union meetings for all denominations which are sponsored by the association.
For instance, our association conducts two union meetings each year. They plan a union Thanksgiving service and a union Good Friday service. The committee on plans for the Good Friday service this year planned a three-hour service with seven sermonettes given on the seven statements of Christ on the cross. The service was held in the Episcopal church, a beautiful structure, the oldest in the city. I was invited to speak on the words, "It is finished." After robed speakers had soothed the congregation to sleep with smooth words, I took my turn, dressed in my ordinary suit. I was the only speaker on the platform who declined to wear a robe. In my own words I gave the gist of the message found in "The Desire of Ages" under the caption, "It Is Finished." The people had never heard of the fall of Satan. They roused up and listened very attentively, even leaning on the pew ahead of them, unconsciously trying to get closer. At the close of tile service many expressed themselves as never having heard such a message before.
Since that Good Friday service the editor of the paper prints everything I take to him. He is exceptionally friendly. Our church has recognition that it never enjoyed before. Ladies' organizations of the city have asked for a list of the sick of our church, that they may carry flowers to them. A barrier of prejudice has been broken down, and our prayer is that "many, both of ministers and people," may accept "those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming."