While our fast-developing work re-quires close counseling for all departments of the cause, seldom have our Bible workers the privilege of studying their own peculiar needs, as was afforded at the Bible workers' council in the Northern California Conference, May 4 to 6. To have in a conference a group large enough to give rise to the need; and then to possess the vision for the Bible workers' development, shows a wholesome trend in evangelism.
President E. F. Hackman and his co-workers really welcomed these women to Oakland for close consideration of their problems, and his inspirational devotional study at the opening of the session sounded a new note of courage. He set the Bible work on such a high plane that these workers merely reflected the joy they found in their profession. It was apparent that the Bible workers in Northern California were the special interest of the conference in its sound evangelistic program, and that their work was considered most important.
Out of this favorable setting grew the free and wholesome discussions of the three days of council. All present contributed methods and experiences that built ideas for more progressive soul winning. There was much earnest prayer for new power to meet the ever-increasing difficulties in winning men and women to Christ through His last-day message.
The council stressed the qualifications for the Bible work, the daily program for efficient service, the ability to organize, the specialist's talents, and many other phases of personal evangelism. The following points presented a new challenge:
There is need for a stronger emphasis on the real work of the Bible worker. Too often personal evangelism consists in a friendly, winsome visiting, inviting people to our public services for all or most of their doctrinal instruction prior to baptism. Lasting results would follow a program of indoctrinating individuals more thoroughly. This requires the services of women who can teach as well as develop interest for the message. A fine background of Bible knowledge is very necessary. This must be built up until the Bible worker is, 'first of all, a specialist in teaching doctrine, and next, in various other features that enhance the profession. Our most effectual weapon is still the sword of the Spirit, while other approaches and mechanics may supplement our efforts.
This generation is mainly ignorant of the doctrine and experience of the new birth. It must now be taught with elementary simplicity, step by step, unfolding what salvation involves. Its principles must be frequently reviewed, as obedience is more definitely taught to the reader.
We must teach men and women simply, and step by step, how to develop faith. They must know and experience faith in overcoming evil habits. This is a faithless generation, emotionally unbalanced. The reception of this grace of faith is more than exercising will power to give up a practice that means physical ruin. Men must learn to resist "unto blood, striving against sin." Evil habits took time to gain a hold. The overcoming process in experience also requires time. Seventh-day Adventists are not made in a fortnight. Evangelism is not over when the doctrinal series closes. Sympathetic workers, experienced in Christian living, must remain by the side of these struggling souls until a new Master takes full possession. That is the work of establishing in the faith for which a hasty program of evangelism makes no provision. It is the secret of success in developing Adventism.
Bible workers, too, must teach souls how to pray. The art of purposeful conversation is lost through the constant blaring of satanic trumpets. No wonder men, now more than ever, are dumb in spiritual expression. They may listen to pointed spiritual appeals and yet never stir to respond. Since no true conversion is effected without prayer, we must pray for souls, and with souls, until there is awakened in the soul to be won the new need of prayer. Visiting without praying with the individual is weak evangelism and an unfinished Bible work.
The great lines of prophetic truths, so taught that conviction reaches the soul, brings wen to God and into the message. To teach skillfully in the quietude of the home the signs of the times in a modern Scriptural setting, will catch the interest of even the busy people. Bible workers must progress with the progressing signs of the times in both content and method. These multiplying signs must be arrayed to arrest attention and to develop interest in actual Bible study. Their compelling truths must provide the worker with a new vocabulary.
Our religious expressions are often stale for lack of fresh study. Since the days when Seventh-day Adventists were distinguished as prophetic interpreters, other religious sects have copied and confused our teachings, and stolen our language and technique. Today we hear, "Wake up, America l" We say to our sisters of the profession, "Wake up, Bible workers ! Teach with a new force the glorious message of the hour !"
Fads and frills trim up the shallow, modern man. Our reformatory truths are scientific, but, most of all, Scriptural. We teach best by emphasizing sound health reform and the principles of sane dress reform. The Elijah message provides the proper setting. It stresses the effects of the reformatory work in the home by Christian ideals and Christian education. Tithing is a reform in stewardship. Its blessed privileges challenge obedience. Again, baptism is the rite of a new-birth experience, even more than an act of obedience. We need to discern more sharply between the coma of sin and the death of sin.
We must win our youth to Christ by knowing the methods of helping them in their three great decisive problems—education, empIoyment, and marriage. Again, we should recognize the Sabbath school and Missionary Volunteer organizations as agencies to deepen Adventism. The meeting hours and objectives should be sacredly guarded by refraining from infringing on Sabbath school time for our instruction of the baptismal class, or by eliminating the Missionary Volunteer hour during an evangelistic effort. Building the whole, while building evangelism, should be recognized as a part in fair play and wise economy. The baptism of Juniors should follow an accepted course of indoctrination, being especially thorough where the child has not had the privilege of the teachings and training of the church school. Bible workers can well afford an interest in this age group.
The Bible workers of the Northern California Conference have a most wholesome and well-balanced vision of their mission, and we proudly pass on their convictions to the Bible worker sisterhood throughout the world field. We pray for a larger army of these noble women of the cross.
L. C. K.