A conference facing the task of warning a population of nearly four million people who reside in 205 counties, 174 of these counties without a Seventh-day Adventist church, presents a need and an appeal that no conference can lightly consider. With this picture before us, and with the solemn realization that "this gospel of the kingdom" must be preached in every corner of every conference before the work can be finished in all the world, the Georgia-Cumberland Conference at the beginning of this year turned to literature distribution, and particularly to the Bible Study League plan, as a means of reaching our constituency.
In organizing Our field for this literature campaign, we endeavored to make it very clear that the extent to which any church might participate did not depend upon its ability to pay for the literature it needed. On the other hand, we emphasized that the amount of literature which we would provide depended entirely upon the capacity of each church to use the literature judiciously. Following this plan, all our churches and isolatedbelievers havebeen supplied with as much literature as they could use, regardless of their ability to pay.
Types of Literature Used
First, we used prepared tracts on practical subjects of a nature that would not arouse prejudice. These tracts were small, and were furnished by the publishing house at the rate of three-fifths of a cent for fifteen copies. About 650,000 of these small leaflets have been used by our people, largely in a general way. Many were placed in parked automobiles on Saturday nights; others were placed in office buildings; and many thousands were used in connection with the Harvest Ingathering campaign. Each tract carried an advertisement of the book "Prophecy Speaks." As a result of this distribution, a number of these books have already been sold, and over one hundred fifty inquiries have been received for further literature, mostly from persons living in the small towns.
Good News, the second type of literature, has been used in a systematic way for the purpose of obtaining a large number of names of interested persons. That its distribution might cover as large an area as possible, we prepared four different numbers of the Good News and had 110,000 copies of each number printed. Our people were asked to distribute carefully and systematically one copy each week for four weeks, covering the same territory. At the close of the four weeks, our members were asked to change to a new territory and start all over again until their entire community should be covered. These four numbers, in the order given out, were on Daniel 2, the second coming of Christ, the new earth, and the way to Christ.
On the front page of the first number of our Good News, we printed an introductory letter which called attention to the fact that arrangements -had been made by the Bible Study League for them to receive Good News for a brief period without cost or obligation on their part. The letter closed by saying:
The Bible Study League through whose courtesy you are receiving Good News is a department of a world-wide organization, the purpose of which is to encourage and aid in the study of the Bible. It is supported by the liberality of its members and seeks only the welfare of humanity in the practical understanding of God's word. Trusting that you will thoroughly enjoy the reading of Good News, and requesting that you will carefully note the last paragraph on the last page, we are, very sincerely yours, Bible Study League.
The back page of the Good News carried an advertisement on "Prophecy Speaks" and the following brief statement:
Those desiring free literature on subjects such as the one treated in this Good News will be supplied. without obligation, a subscription to a periodical, by writing to the Bible Study League, Box 4929, Department G, Atlanta, Georgia.
Finally, when the fourth and last number of Good News was distributed, a .letter from the Bible Study League was again printed on the front page on the subject of "Christian Unity," the last paragraph of which letter read thus:
It is this type of unity that the sponsors of this little paper are promoting. We are sure you will agree this is the more excellent way. Please read the following article, study it closely, especially note the important announcement appearing on the last page.
The announcement on the last page called attention to the fact that the reader held in his hands the last issue of Good News to be left at his home, and urged all to use the enclosed "we-pay-the-postage" post card in order that they might receive without cost "a nationally known religious periodical." As a result of the Good News distribution, 6,856 requests for more literature were received by October 11.
The third type of literature used in our campaign was the Present Truth, which we handled entirely by mail. We made up one mailing list for the Present Truth from names of interested persons supplied to us by our people. Another group of names was made up from taxpayers' lists in some of the dark counties far removed from our organized work. To these people there were mailed from our office four numbers of Present Truth, the subject matter being similar to that contained in the four numbers of Good News given in the house-to-house distribution. These four numbers of Present Truth were mailed at two-week intervals. With the fourth number a card was sent which we asked the receiver to sign and mail to us if further literature was desired. In this mailing work, 104,000 copies-26,000 each of the four numbers—were sent out, and as a result, 3,762 cards came in, requesting further literature.
Other numbers of Present Truth were used in our follow-up work. Those requesting literature from the Good News systematic distribution, or from the Present Truth mailing lists, or from the small-tract distribution—in fact, all requests from the general, personal, or mailing system of distribution—were sent ten numbers of Present Truth direct from the publishing house. When any one person had received his ten issues of Present Truth from the publishing house, the publishers were then instructed to send us the addressing-machine plates so that we could address envelopes containing our final questionnaire, a letter, and the number of the Present Truth on "Who Are Seventh-day Adventists?" The questionnaire read as follows:
1. Do you enjoy studying the Bible?
2. Are you interested in the Bible prophecies?
3. Do you believe the Bible doctrine that Christ is coming back the second time?
4. Although no one knows the day or the hour, do you believe that Christ is coming soon?
5. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour?
6. In answering the question, "What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?" Christ said, "Keep the commandments." (See Matt. 19:17.) Do you believe that all the ten commandments of God, including the fourth,—which enjoins the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday),—are still binding upon all mankind? And do you purpose__________ when fully persuaded—to follow the example of Christ and the apostles by obeying all ten of the commandments?
7. In what topics are you especially interested?
8. Would you like to receive further literature on the topics discussed in the issues of Present Truth received to date?
9. If it can be arranged, would you like to have a trained Bible teacher call at your home for Bible study? (This service is free.)
All Bible Study League services to you are free.
However, if you wish to help extend this ministry to others by making a contribution to the League, it will be much appreciated. Those sending a contribution will receive a 112-page book which proves beyond all doubt that the Bible is the word of God.
The lines below are for your convenience. If you have questions you would like to ask, feel free to do so. It will be a pleasure to hear from you. Please mail the sheet in the accompanying envelope. It requires no postage.
Street or Route ..............................................................................
City ........................................................... State ..........................
If the person answers this questionnaire favorably, we then make use of our pioneer evangelist, the Signs of the Times. One of our lay representatives or workers is appointed to visit this person, and while the Bible studies are being given to him, we send him a subscription to the Signs to help hold his interest. The length of this subscription depends entirely upon the interest of the individual.
Further follow-up work was undertaken in behalf of those persons in our territory who were already receiving Present Truth, the Watchman Magazine, or Signs of the Times direct from the publishers before our campaign began. To all such, personal questionnaires were sent, and so far, 919 requests have come in from this class asking for still more literature. Every effort has been made to do a thorough work and really present the message to every person within the borders of our conference, as far as possible. Persons on our list not responding at all were turned over to our own members with the request that each one be personally visited by one of our brethren or sisters.
Neither have the interested persons in the remote sections of our conference been overlooked. For their benefit, a correspondence school was organized, and each week they received two Bible studies in the form of Family Bible Teacher lessons. The lessons were so arranged as to take up our truths in just the same order as a Bible worker would give them, were she to call at the home personally. While these studies are being given by mail, the Signs of the Times is also coming into the home. In this way we are endeavoring to hold, as well as develop, the interest of those who are so isolated as to make personal follow-up work difficult with our present working force. Practically every pastor and church leader now sees. the importance of organizing in every church a lay Bible worker's class to train our people for giving Bible readings that they may unite their efforts with the ministers' and church officers' in finishing the work.
(To be continued)