The magnitude of the task of solidly establishing the advent movement in the South American Division is a tremendous challenge to the workers in our field. It is a congregation of eighty million to be preached to, scattered over a territory twice as large as continental United States—or more than thirty times the size of the republic of France—divided into eight different countries. Portuguese and Spanish are the official languages spoken, but liberal constitutions have brought thousands of immigrants, with their various tongues, to these promising shores which already have scores of Indian dialects.
Great, modern cities must be entered. Schools must be established and administered, ofttimes under circumstances few are in a position to appreciate. Indian missions must be opened and operated in the far interior. Long, hard trips must be made by all kinds of conveyance. The magnitude of the task is a direct challenge to our corps of workers here and an indirect responsibility to every Seventh-day Adventist in the world. Through the centuries, God's missionaries have been urged on by difficult and impossible tasks. They have attempted great things. The more impossible a task has looked from a human standpoint, the more prayer, perseverance, study, sacrifice, and work have been exercised to bring it to a successful conclusion.
That little word "go" uttered by the Lord, coupled with the all-sufficient "My grace is sufficient" which He spoke to the apostle Paul, has seemed to make up the missionary's necessary equipment for his task. To build pyramids has been the challenge of the Pharaohs. Building great canals has almost defied the talent and science of engineers, but they have finally overcome through perseverance and the stimulus of a challenge. Statesmen have withstood criticism, ingratitude, and rebuff, because they were challenged by the problem of building an empire. The missionary for God has been, and ever will be, greatly stimulated and inspired because he has a stupendous task to do, and because he knows he has the grace of God for his strength.
The missionaries of the advent movement in South America know there are thousands of people in the great cities of this continent and in the country stretches who are earnestly seeking to know the Bible truth for these times. Large numbers of our present members sought for years for a religious message based on the Scriptures, and finally came to rejoice in finding present truth. If a fireman knows there are people in a burning building who are seeking to save themselves from the flames, his zeal to rescue them is greatly increased. So our zeal is greatly stimulated by knowing that there are persons earnestly seeking the Bible message we have. Despite all comments to the contrary, there are thousands today who are not satisfied with their present religious experience. These people are seeking for light. Their seeking inspires us, gives us hope, and makes us stick to our task.
At the end of the first twenty years of work in the South American Division, we had only 4,900 baptized members. At the end of forty years, there were 27,000. The net results of the second twenty years were more than four times the net results of the first twenty years. Thirty-five years yielded 20,000 Sabbath school members, and at the end of seven more years the total had reached 30,000. Thirty-five years to reach 20,000, and in seven years io,000 more ! Up to 1930, we had only 4,600 Missionary Volunteers, but by 1937 the membership of the young people's societies had reached 9,000; or in seven years we gained almost half as many as we had gained in our whole history of forty years. Increasing success brings vigor and stimulation. When God is increasing the results, that is the time to push on and out into new fields. These facts should fire us all with holy zeal and great earnestness.
Converts Become Convert Makers
In this territory, not only have the peoples united with the Seventh-day 'Adventist church in their religious belief and practice as lay members, but there are large numbers of these converts who have become active missionaries. The converts have become convert makers. We have a thousand workers in all branches of our organization who are carrying on valiantly in missionary service, and who have come from the ranks of our converts right here on the ground. These men and women are pillars of strength not only to our movement here, but they are world-minded in their outlook and are a distinct asset to the advent movement.
Many of this number have become missionaries to other nations. Some have gone into out-of-the-way places where sacrifice of the comforts of life is of daily recurrence. The best there is in us is challenged to do its utmost for a gospel which not only converts men, but makes those men convert makers. All our powers are stimulated to persevere‘ in a cause which transforms ordinary men into effective preachers, canvassers, teachers, missionary directors, and office workers, who carry to others the message which has meant salvation to them.
The sower perseveres in his task because of his desire for the harvest. During these forty years, the Adventist missionaries have sown the seed in the great cities, and up and down the countryside, and now we want to be on the ground when the harvest is ripe and gathered in. Thousands of books and periodicals have been placed in the hands of the people. Sermons have been preached, and the words still abide in the hearts of the people. A kind deed is never forgotten. This is seed which apparently lies dormant to some extent now, but which will grow and bear fruit when the rain and sunshine of the Holy Spirit come. Sowing and watering are only part of the task. The harvest must be cared for. We must work on, and the Lord will give strength till the last sheaf is garnered in. We workers out on the gospel battle lines in South America are urged on in the work of God to carry on a little longer because our work and the work has not been finished.