Ways of Gaining Decisions

Ways of Gaining Decisions (Symposium)

Plans and Methods, Experiences and Problems

IRENE B. ANDERSON, Southern California Conference.

Conversion Follows Confession

A young man had been faithfully attend­ing our meetings, and was convinced of the truth. He decided to stop smoking, and he did, but he was not converted. One evening he had a quarrel with his wife, who was also interested. He began to smoke again, and told her that he was through with it all.

In the providence of God I called at their home the day following this decision. He did not tell me all the circumstances, but I could see that there was a fundamental difficulty. I asked him if he had ever confessed his sins definitely, one by one. He said that he had not, but that he had prayed in general for God to forgive him. He was depending on his own strength to gain the victory. I told him that he could do nothing in his own strength, that he was a sinner, and that his only hope was in the Lord. I told him that God loved him, and had died for him. After this we had a very earnest season of prayer, and both he and his wife broke down and wept.

That evening he came early to the tabernacle, and rushed to me and said, "Oh, I am so glad that you came to see us today. I had decided to give up this message. I thought I could never live it. But today, after you left, I decided to do as you advised. So I got down on my knees and confessed every sin, and after forty-five minutes of praying and weep­ing the Lord came into my heart." He was most happy, has been baptized, and is an earnest worker for the Lord.

Clinching Our Decisions

Helping men and women to accept Jesus as their Saviour and keep all His com­mandments is not the result of one short visit, but the reward of thorough, systematic effort, watered by the Holy Spirit. It is undoubtedly the greatest test of a Bible worker's ability.

Becoming a Seventh-day Adventist is usually the climax of a series of decisions the individ­ual has been making for several weeks. For this reason the Bible worker should sell her readers on each point before passing on to the next. She can test her progress by giving a brief review at the close of the study, in the form of questions and answers, reviewing it again in a similar manner when she comes to give the next lesson. This causes the readers to study after she is gone. Grown people are like children. When they have studied hard, they like to have the teacher give them an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned. When a Bible worker has inspired her class to study for themselves, she has gone a long way toward bringing them into the message.

Each lesson should have an appeal in it. Unless the study leads a person to do some­thing with the truth he has been hearing, little has been accomplished. He must not only agree with the message, but must change his course of living from week to week, as new phases of the truth are presented.

The people should be encouraged to come to church as soon after the Sabbath has been presented as possible. It is much easier to get them to keep the Sabbath after they have worshiped with a group of other Sabbath-keepers. It is well to let the minister know that you are bringing them, and tell him on Sabbath that they are there.

The worker should do everything in her power to have those in the valley of decision present when the evangelist plans to make a call. There is something about a public appeal that brings people to a decision when all efforts in private seem to fail. Seeing others go for­ward helps them to take the step. If those who should go forward hesitate when the call is made, it is well for one of the workers to give them a personal invitation. A word at such a time has helped many to make a decision who have become stanch, loyal members.

There are times when the worker may need to have the minister make a special call for someone she has brought. For example, I studied with a man who conformed to every­thing, except that he would not give up his pipe. All he would say was, "I'll try." I tipped the speaker off one Sabbath, and he made an appeal for all to lay down their tobacco. This man raised his hand in assent, and has never touched it from that day.

If a worker ever needs to pray for wisdom, she needs to when she brings readers across the line, for it is easy to urge them to the point where they become rebellious. Texts such as James 4:17, John 9:41, and Acts 17:30 are very effective if used tactfully.

Many accept Jesus, keep the Sabbath, and adhere to all the other points of the faith, but cannot make up their minds to join the church. One of the easiest ways to overcome this is to go over the fifteen guiding principles of Seventh-day Adventists found on the last page of the Community Bible Lessons, and have the reader answer Yes to each point after it has been fully explained to him. Then show him where to sign his name. Tell him that this covers all the points of our faith. If he does not agree with everything, this at least helps the worker to find the point on which he is not clear. After he has signed the card, it is well to make a definite appointment for baptism before leaving. Signing the card helps to seal his covenant with God, and furnishes the min­ister with the correct name and address for the baptismal certificate.

Getting people to accept this message is on much the same principle as selling a book. The message must be made so attractive and appealing that they will want it at any price, and the order must be sealed at the psychological moment.

Rachel May Lemon

Alabama-Mississippi Conference.

The Earnest Personal Appeal

Ringing souls to a decision might be compared with a colporteur's securing an order for his book after an interesting descrip­tion of it. When the worker enters a home of interested people, he should go with one aim and prayer, and that is to present the great values of truth in such a way that the people will want to possess them. As the faithful colporteur prays for power to sell his truth-filled book, so the consecrated and earnest Bible teacher goes from home to home with the prayer that she might in a tactful way cause the people to want the truth of God's word. The same methods that secure the order for the colporteur will help the Bible teacher to secure decisions for God. The reason we often fail is that we do not make the earnest personal appeal.

A certain woman, after having heard the Sabbath question thoroughly discussed in our public meetings and in personal visits, said one day, "I believe every bit of it. I have always wondered why people do not keep the Sabbath of the ten commandments."

Then she was asked very kindly, "Aren't you beginning to feel down deep in your heart that you should keep God's Sabbath day holy?"

She answered, "Yes, I do feel that way."

Then it was explained to her that all she needed to do was to begin. "Why don't you just decide to keep the next Sabbath?"

"Well," she replied, "I hadn't thought of it that way. But, yes, I'd like to begin."

The suggestion was made that we kneel down and pray, and that she tell the Lord that she was going to keep all the commandments, that she was going to keep the next Sabbath, and ask Him for grace and strength to keep her promise. We assured her that the Lord would love to hear her tell Him that. She said, "I will." Heaven bent low, as with tears and simple words she told the Lord of her decision and asked Him for help. Mine was a prayer of thanksgiving for another dear heart that had yielded. She kept her word, and amidst oppo­sition in the home went step by step all the way, and was baptized.

During the meetings of the Voice of Proph­ecy group in Portland, Oregon, another Bible worker and I looked up a woman who had requested help. To our surprise we found a family who called themselves Seventh-day Adventists, but who seemed hopelessly back­slidden. The husband was chewing tobacco and freely using a near-by spittoon. On the lounge lay a pack of playing cards. We learned that they had forsaken health reform, too, and were eating unclean foods and drinking tea and coffee. Our first impulse was to report them to the local pastor, and hope that something might be done for them.

The husband lay sick in one room; so we talked to the wife in another room about coming back to God and loving again the truth she had already learned. We had prayer with her, and secretly I cried to God for wisdom and courage to help these dear people. How could we leave them this way ? As we walked through the room in which the sick man lay, we stopped to talk with him. I touched his hand and asked him if he loved the Lord. He began to weep and nodded his head. When we asked him if he had ever given up his tobacco, his answer was, "Yes, I gave it up for two years, but I have gone back to it."

Then we asked kindly, "Wouldn't you give it up again for Jesus?" And he replied, "I wish I could." After talking to him about what God can do for people, we asked him if he wouldn't like to tell Him he was quitting the filthy habit, and pray for deliverance and victory. Yes, he was willing, and with trem­bling words and tears he told the Lord his troubles and asked for help. We prayed for God's mercy and grace to remove the craving for tobacco, because the man was so weak and helpless.

After prayer we suggested that if he was absolutely through with his tobacco, he give it to us for our "trophy picture" and our "bonfire." (We often save the tobacco, cigar­ettes, snuff, pipes, tea, coffee, etc., that people give up when they gain the victory. At the close of the effort we arrange these things for a picture, after which we make a bonfire, and then take a picture of the "stuff" burning. These pictures on my film strips, together with touching personal experiences, help me in pre­senting health reforms in "Pittured Truth.") This man was ready to give it all away, and what a pile it was—a whole month's supply. The wife added her playing cards and her ring to the pile. Both said that they wanted to return to the Lord in the matter of health reform and Sabbathkeeping.

God was kind to the sick man. A day later, when we went back to see them, he was in another room, happy over his victory. These people are finding their way back to God. ELLEN CURRAN, Southern California Conference.

Induct into Sabbath School

Knowledge is power, and knowing how to bring people over the line is indeed the secret of a Bible worker's success. After win­ning people's confidence, my major efforts are bent toward getting them out to Sabbath school, and gradually to keep the Sabbath as required of God. This is the biggest step of all, next to conversion itself. As a general rule I find that people who accept the Sabbath, and who are willing to study, will walk in each step of light as it comes. People who study for themselves, who not only-read appropriate literature, but go over notebook lesson out­lines between lessons, are prepared and willing to go all the way.

If a person can realize the power of prayer, he will gain the victory. Prayer is very im­portant. I not only pray for my readers, bear­ing each name and individual need on my heart, but I also teach them to pray as we become better acquainted.

Addie Mae Kalar, Nebraska Conference.

Allowing God to Work

A man and his wife had attended the evan­gelistic meetings regularly—that is, they had both gone, but not together, as one re­mained at home to care for the baby while the other attended. They believed the truth pre­sented; at least the husband admitted that he did. The time came for a decision, but they did not decide, although they continued to attend.

We visited them in their home, and still they faltered. One day the minister was visiting with me, and as we neared the home, I said, "Elder, these people should take their stand. Try to do something. The wife may be holding him back, but I do so long to see them decide today."

We visited them, and answered a few ques­tions. Then, after a rather awkward pause, the minister said, "Let us kneel and pray." After the minister prayed, he asked if the man or the woman would like to pray. The little wife then prayed, asking God to help her not to be a hindrance to her husband, nor stand in his way. Then she yielded her heart to God, and promised Him to go all the way. The hus­band, who was ill and frail in body, was so moved that he could not speak. He could only cry out to God that he was also giving his all to Jesus. We all rose from our knees rejoic­ing that God had won the battle.

After leaving the home, I said to the evan­gelist, "I was afraid you were not going to say anything." He replied, "I couldn't think of a thing to say." To me this was a clear case of human instruments getting out of the way, and allowing God to work. This couple were baptized and became loyal Seventh-day Adventists.

When I began Bible work I regarded it a real privilege to work for God. Later I de­cided it was a wonderful thing to work with God. But now, by His grace, I ask Him to help me keep out of His way, so that I may see Him work.

Marguerite Williamson,

Loma Linda Sanitarium.

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IRENE B. ANDERSON, Southern California Conference.

June 1942

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