A burden for the winning of lost souls about me rests heavily upon me. I see millions of people traveling the road to death. I cannot see those folks going on to destruction and sit complacently by. The need grips my heart, and I must do what I can. To help stem the tide, the Southern New England Conference in September, 1934, rented for thirty weeks one of-the largest auditoriums they could secure in Boston. The opening night we could not seat all who came. We had a good attendance for the entire series, and 167 were baptized; but that did not solve the problem, nor relieve my burden. What could we do for the others who did not come? I preached our message in Boston to perhaps thirty thousand during the winter, but there were still more than a million and a half who did not hear.
Being convinced that a large percentage of these people could be reached by means of the radio, last spring I started broadcasting in Boston four times a week, though on a station of only 250 watts. The response was immediate, and many letters of inquiry were ,received. In a short time the radio station informed me that my mail constituted 60 per cent of the mail received by that station. The letters came in increasing number each week, and enough money came in them to pay the entire expense of the broadcasts. I soon had enough money in hand to engage time on a much more powerful radio station. On this station the mail increased more. I might say that we did not solicit the writing of letters from our own believers; practically all of the letters are from those not of our own church. I saved these letters and will show you some of them. [Here was displayed a string of letters attached to a cloth band that, when extended, reached entirely around the assembly hall and up the center aisle.—Editor.]
Question From Floor. "Can you tell us how long this is?"
Answer.—"It is 252 feet long. There are more than 500 letters and cards in this string."
Ques.—"How long did it take to accumulate this number?"
Ans.—"It took just one week. That is not our largest week, however. We have received over 600 letters in one week in response to our radio programs. Once, in twenty-four hours, we got 172 letters.
Now, when you think that each one represents a family interested in our message, it means a great deal. . We have received about ten thousand letters. You can imagine a string of letters, approximately one mile long, which have been received in the eight months since we started the radio broadcasts.
Radio stations have worked out an estimate of the number of listeners for each letter that is received. They say a conservative estimate is 100 listeners for each letter. Consequently, I have concluded that there are at least 50,000 people in my radio audience.
These letters are very, very interesting. I am going to take a minute to read from a few of the letters which came in during the first two weeks of October.
"I must say I like to hear somebody that dares say what he thinks. Some preachers would not speak about sin or hell nowadays, for this is not suitable for most people. . . . Believe me, I listened, for I never got so much of the wonderful word of God."—Mrs. Ellen Wahlstrom, Worcester, Mass.
"My husband is not in the truth, but he tunes in and gets your program."—Mrs. Mary Pushard, Bath, Maine.
"May I thank you, Mr. Ford, for your kindness and love for me and many others in going to the work of preparing and sending these inspiring and educational lectures?"—Mr. W. Brodeur, Manchester, N. H.
"I want to thank you for bringing me the light in a new light."—Mrs. P. Seckendorf, Somerville, Mass.
"My husband has taken an interest in your lectures, and was quite interested in the 'mark of the beast.' He thinks you are about right. I think you would see how worthwhile it is to send them if you could know the good they are doing. They bring up many questions we would like to have an opportunity to ask."—Mrs. R. C. Moses, Nova Scotia.
"I never read the Bible until I listened to your lectures over the radio, and I want to say that I enjoy the lectures that I have received from you."—Mrs. A. Votta, Providence, R. I.
"I have been studying the Seventh-day Adventists' literature, together with my Bible, for a long time, and hope to be baptized soon."—Mrs. Martinson, Somers, Conn.
"You can never know how much your radio talks during the past months have meant to me."—Mrs. H. C. Walker, Grafton, Vt.
"I want to tell you how much your broadcasts have meant to me all summer. I have not missed one, and it has given me an uplift for the day. . . I have knelt each day as prayer is offered by you."—Mrs. E. Clay, Revere, Mass.
"I thank you again for all the lectures you have sent. I have got so much help from them. I have been listening in for two months. I always take time to hear your talks, and especially your prayer. It seems to start the day right, and I know that your prayers have helped me."—Mrs. Mary Gross, Rockland, Me.
"But what puzzles me is how to get back to the old Sabbath. [Someone who has never heard of Seventh-day Adventists.] Where could we find a church that would open its doors on Saturday? We may want to obey God's law concerning the Sabbath, but I wonder how we can get back to the old Sabbath."—Mrs. Robert Howland, Taunton,, Mass.
"Would you please tell me how one comes from a — church to yours? Does he come by letter? Some of us are deeply interested and are thinking seriously."—Mrs. Jennie Lowe, Somerville, Mass.
"God has been so very kind to let me see the true light in keeping the true Sabbath day. I am so happy that I am doing His will in even that."—Mrs. S. Priestly, Waban, Mass.
"I want to thank you for the lectures you have sent me. They are wonderful, and have helped me to understand the Bible so much better. I have always kept Sunday, as I thought it was the right day to keep; but now I am keeping Saturday because you have showed us in your lectures that this is the right day to keep and that all should worship on this day. I am very sorry that you are leaving Boston, but hope we will be able to hear you over the radio, for we enjoy your talks so much. They have helped me to bear my sorrows and to trust God more and more every day."—Mrs. W. E. Dinsmore, Taunton, Mass.
"I believe the seventh day to be the Sabbath." —Mrs. John Olson, Roxbury. Mass.
"I'm trying to keep the Sabbath on Saturday."—Mrs. Ethel Hull, Arlington, Mass.
"I believe as- you do in -regard- to the Sabbath."—Mrs. Hattie Miller, York Beach, Maine.
"I think I would like to become one of your members sometime."—Mrs. C. Anderson, Norwood, Mass.
I have several pages of similar letters which I have received during this two-week period.
I have conducted broadcasts four times each week. I believe that I would have much better success if I could broadcast daily. And I would rather have four fifteen-minute periods than one one-hour period weekly. People will listen for fifteen minutes, even though they have work to do, while if the broadcast were an hour, they might not try to listen at all because of the length. In the four broadcasts of the week I give a complete lecture, with the conclusion on Sunday morning, when we have the large audience, as the men are at home.
I do not believe it is wise to present extremely controversial doctrines over the air. Although I do not preach on some themes over the air, yet I answer many of the questions that are involved in them. I advertise that the listeners may have a free copy of some of these special printed lectures. Because I have raised these questions in my radio broadcast, they want to know more about them. I preach on the law over the air, but I mail out my printed lecture on the mark of the beast and the Sabbath. In this way we do not create prejudice, that might put us off the air, or make it difficult to begin another series of lectures. The way I conduct my work, I can keep on the air continuously, creating an interest in our message, and sending out our more testing truths in printed form. Thousands of friends are made who write for these free printed lectures.
A few years ago difficulty was encountered in obtaining permission for an effort in the city of Somerville. When a permit was desired for meetings in a tent this summer, permission was gladly given. The radio work certainly changed the attitude of the officials.
People in all walks of life listen to our broadcast. One official whose office is in the State capitol building has a radio in his office. He wrote me that he listened to each of my lectures. Many people who would never go out to our auditorium, listen to the truth over the radio. We have interested people from Connecticut to Nova Scotia, in nearly every section of New England. Scores are keeping the Sabbath and have manifested a desire to unite with us.
At the close of my Somerville effort I went to Salem, twenty-five miles away, and spoke three nights. Although we have no church in the city, we had more than 400 present each night. Practically all were radio listeners. On the second night I preached for three hours, presenting the Sabbath question from beginning to end. I made a call and a number of people took their stand for the truth that evening. As they were radio listeners, they already knew a great deal of the message. The closing night I gave the second coming of Christ. From these three services we had fifteen people enter the baptismal class. If we could have had meetings there for three weeks or .a little longer, we could have had fifty baptisms. I believe this result could not have been obtained in any other way than by the radio. We can, I believe, go into any city where we have radio listeners, and do a quick work.
Radio broadcasting is quite expensive, yet if conducted rightly, the money will come from the radio listeners. Less than 25 percent of the expense of my work was paid by Seventh-day Adventists; the greater part has come from the outside listeners. When I closed my meeting, I received a check for $100 from one woman, another for $50, and a colored woman gave me $50. These were not members of the church. I cannot make a call for money over the radio, so must get donations by appeals to those who write in.
For two weeks I talked on missions over the radio. Then I sent our Harvest Ingathering magazines to many on my mailing list. As a result nearly every mail brings us money for missions. The missions broadcasts have made it much easier for our Harvest Ingathering solicitors.
I feel this is the golden hour to step out in radio work. Many stations are offering free time, and others are giving very low rates. Of course, there should be much care in the way the message is given. That which can be a great agency for good could very easily, if improperly conducted, cause great harm.