The radio offers greater opportunities for reaching the masses than anything else invented by man. Thousands of people may be induced to listen to our message over the radio who would never attend a public meeting. The aged, the poor, and the indifferent may never be reached by any other way. During the last few years we have all been awakened to the almost unlimited possibilities of the radio. We are convinced that God will use the radio more forcefully than most of us have realized. Many of us had hoped for some time that we would hear our message preached over a national hookup like that of other denominations. Today we see that hope accomplished, and we are proud of the excellent program the Voice of Prophecy is sending out over the air.
The radio Bible correspondence course method is gaining momentum and is becothing popular all over the country. This method of giving the message is found to be very economical; and a quicker, more effective follow-up work is being accomplished. Nothing can take the place of public evangelism as we have always known it, of course, but this Bible course will be found to be a great aid to the evangelist if he uses it wisely.
At first it will be easy to take care of mailing and correcting the lessons; but as the work grows, we will face the problem of taking care of a heavier mail without additional help. Because of this, we believe the Bible correspondence school should be fostered by the conference like any other department of our work. If this were done, all radio correspondence courses could be combined into one. Many broadcasters could conduct the course, but all lessons and requests could be forwarded to the conference office to be cared for by one or more persons employed for that purpose.
Another good reason for conducting the course from the conference office is the continuity. Seventh-day Adventist ministers move frequently, making it difficult at times for some of them to follow up their interest. Weeks, sometimes months, elapse before their places are filled. What happens then to the radio Bible correspondence school, upon which so much time and money have been spent?
Moving from city to city, as we have been doing here in North Dakota, makes it very difficult for us to do justice to the work. We reached the place where we were at a loss to know what to do. We thought all along that the conference should be the central place for the Bible school, but we were afraid to suggest it. The recent Autumn Council, however, has come to our rescue with a solution to the problem.
In North Dakota we have decided to place the correspondence school responsibility with the home missionary department and to employ another stenographer to handle both the radio Bible course and the Bible Study League. All those who conduct a school in the conference will use the same lessons, and all lessons will be corrected and mailed from the conference office. In this way the work can be kept going without interruption, regardless of what happens to the radio evangelist.
Because the radio Bible correspondence school is such an effective way of handling the names of interested people and of giving them the message, the entire conference force should be encouraged to enroll students for this one large school.
Five Sources of Supplying Names
During 1943 the Radio Chapel Bible Correspondence School, which I am conducting, will be fed from five different sources. First, we get names from those who hear the special offer directly in our weekly broadcast. People are thrilled to know that they can get such a comprehensive Bible course free. They are hungry for the Bible, and their letters of appreciation are a tonic. During the tabernacle meetings which are going on simultaneously with the broadcasts, we urge the people to enroll in the radio school. The Bible workers then go to their homes and help them to understand the lessons. The majority come into the church before they finish the lessons, but all who come into the church usually finish the course.
The second source of supply is the program for reaching unentered counties. Thousands of pieces of literature have been mailed to carefully selected names all over the conference by our faithful church members, and scores of people have become interested to the extent that they desire further help. Time and money have been faithfully spent on these people, and the interests must be followed up. What can we find better than the radio Bible correspondence course to fill the need? Many may not go very far with the course, but even if only a few accept it, the effort is still worthwhile.
The third source of names is the long list which the evangelist can supply when he is leaving one place for another effort. We all leave people behind whom we longed to bring to a decision. A good way to keep in touch with these people, or to keep up their interest, is through the correspondence course. The least we can do is to tie them to this course. We always have many people on our list who write us letters, asking questions on doctrines. This method of follow-up work will undoubtedly bring results with such.
Another way to get names is through the colporteurs. As the colporteur goes from home to home, he finds people who are definitely interested in the study of the Bible. Although he is unable to give them the time they need, he can encourage them to listen to the radio program and take a free Bible correspondence course. Scores of such people who are on our mailing list are enjoying the course.
The fifth source of supply is through oui lay members. Our people can go from house to house and distribute advertising material. Our churches could easily secure thousands of enrollments by concerted action.
If all of us feed the one conference Bible school, embarrassing situations will be avoided which sometimes arise when a layman tries to conduct such a school. Some of our lay people may be qualified to carry on such a course, but a unified plan like the one we are now urging is, we feel, much more satisfactory. It tends to impress the students with the bigness, importance, and thoroughness of the organization behind the Bible correspondence school.
Exercise Care in Answering Questions
We find that many questions come to us which require care and tact in answering. Some people want to know what denomination sponsors the course ; others want to know why we have not identified ourselves with a denomination. We tell such people that we do not believe there should be any denominational tag on the Bible. A kind, friendly letter in this vein will often divert an inquirer's mind from the question.
One woman asked me recently what day I thought was the Lord's day according to the New Testament. Because she was about seven lessons away from that subject in the course, I told her I had been searching for texts to substantiate Sunday as the Lord's day, but, even though some of us hate to admit it, we could not make any day the Lord's day except Saturday. I then asked her to pass on any information to me that she might find on the subject, and perhaps we could at least settle it for ourselves by the time we were through with this course. She is still taking the course and asking other questions.
Some write in, wanting to know whether our boys should be called upon to kill. How would some of our laymen answer a question like this ? We avoid any commitments on such questions, but we appeal to our questioners to join us in praying that the war will soon be over and that we may always be prepared. We do not always know who or what is behind some of these questions. It may be someone trying to get us off the air.
Since we are working under the name of Seventh-day Adventist, we should do all in our power to make our program representative of the message. Some emergency may arise that will ban public gatherings ; therefore we should do everything to get as many as possible to enroll in our correspondence course, whether it is with the Voice of Prophecy or with the local broadcaster. Some will prefer the coast-tocoast radio school, while others will prefer the local school.
A very important part of the course is the follow-up work. We can organize the course, get the students, send out the lessons every day, and broadcast a message every week, but if we do not follow up the interested until they are baptized and added to the church, all our efforts and money will have been in vain. We must follow up the interested ones at all cost. If they are across the line in another conference, that conference will be glad to accept the responsibility of leading the prospects to a decision. If a person is in another part of the conference in which you are working, make sure that the district leaders or pastors get the name and follow it up.
Several months ago a woman enrolled in our radio course. She was faithful in her lessons and from time to time would ask questions about baptism and how she should relate herself toward her Catholic husband, who opposed her in the study of the Bible. Since we were located near where she lived, we called on her. We found that her two daughters were studying with her, and one of them did all the writing on the lessons. We learned that one of our lay members had given them some studies several years ago, and now they are receptive to the testing truths of our message. Two weeks ago this woman and her two daughters were baptized. Her young son is making arrangements to have his paper route taken care of on Sabbaths, so that he, too, may be baptized. This is what good follow-up work will do.
Our work is important. The battle rages with increased fury. The task is great and the hour. late. War conditions may make it difficult for some of our evangelists to advance as rapidly as they would like, but let us hold our gains, sow the seed, and consolidate our position for the last great objective. The radio, with its Bible correspondence course, is sure to bring a rich harvest.