During the past three years, under the blessing of God, the yearly average number of baptisms in the Tamil Mission increased from less than fifty, where it had stood for some ten years, to 125. We believe that this encouraging progress in heathen India came about as the result of four contributing factors.
First, of course, is the manifest blessing of God. We are living in an age in which we ought to expect greater things from God; and we cannot feel that God's power in these last days will be denied old India, long designated the Gibraltar of heathenism. He has more than honored our faith. We are constrained to believe greater victories lie ahead in the cities and villages of darkened Hindustan if we will but put forth the effort and exercise enough faith.
Second, we have vigorously promoted "everyworker-every-member evangelism," elevating it to its proper place in a program sometimes easily overbalanced by institutionalism. We have held before our staff of workers their one big objective—soul winning. School workers have caught the vision, and our schools have rightly become centers of soul winning. Colporteurs, departmental and office workers, with scores of lay members, have joined hands with regular mission-employed evangelists and pastors to win more souls. In workers' meetings, committee sessions, and through personal letters and bulletins, evangelism in all its phases has been made the battle cry of the hour. We have planned efforts for all, and all have had firsthand contact with real public evangelism, thereby catching the spirit of soul winning. Workers who had never before held an effort have developed into successful public men.
One worker—now one of our most successful evangelists—told me some months ago that he had not known before that every worker could or should have a part in aggressive evangelistic work. He had been under the impression that only the ordained ministers were to do that service and that the lesser lights were to be content with shepherding those who were already within the church fold. Ought not the impression to rest heavily upon every worker, no matter in what part of God's great harvest field or in what line of activity, that his first work is to contribute his bit to the greatest of all works—soul winning? Every-worker-everymember evangelism is the need of the hour in the mission field as well as in the homeland.
Third, it is not enough to stimulate within the heart of the mission worker the desire to do evangelistic work. In most cases he must also be instructed in better methods of "fishing" for souls. The zeal must be accompanied by proper knowledge. In the early days in India many of our workers were employed before adequate training was available. Such workers are constantly in need of "refresher courses"—occasions when the workers can be brought together for seasons of Bible study, prayer, and further instruction in evangelistic methods. In these meetings we should never weary of going over and over the old fundamentals of personal and public evangelism, such as sermon building, arrangement of subjects, ways to meet objections, and study of personal approach, as well as introducing new methods that may be adapted to the mission worker's particular locality.
It is highly important that we adapt to our own particular field of labor the new methods of evangelism that come to us from the homeland and from other divisions. We should not reject as unsuitable some new method merely because it has never been tried before in our field. Workers' meetings cost money, and most mission budgets are usually heavily taxed—at least in the South India Union. But money spent in institutes and other meetings, carefully planned and calculated to increase the soul-winning efficiency of the workers, is money well spent. The expense involved in conducting frequent meetings of this nature during the past three years in the Tamil Mission has been more than justified in the increased results.
The fourth and last factor in our everyworker-every-member evangelistic program is one that should not be overlooked—we should expect results! By that I mean we should expect every field worker to win some souls every year. Some workers, because of personality, ability, or location, will no doubt be able to win more than others ; and for this we should make ample allowance. But each should bring forth some fruit if his twelve months have been spent faithfully in consecrated soul-winning endeavor. The Saviour said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." He did not say, "Perhaps ;" He said, "I will." The invitation is a promise.
If we truly follow Him, we will be fishers of men. As missionaries' we need to set the example ourselves and then look to our indigenous workers to follow. Workers who year after year produce nothing but salary reports ought to be kindly but definitely encouraged to take up other work. With bright, consecrated young men coming out of our colleges, we are assured of strong shoulders to carry the heavy burdens.
In mission fields the time has come for us to launch out more boldly in the field of evangelism. In too many instances we have been overconservative, too fearful to attempt the untried, with the result that many calls have gone unanswered. As mission administrators, departmental secretaries, station directors, and institutional workers, let us give soul winning its proper place.