Hearing of the success met in South Africa in enlisting students for a Bible correspondence school, we asked E. L. Cardey to tell the readers of the Ministry about it. The daily newspaper, Elder Cardey reports, is, in his opinion, proving a medium as good as the radio, if not better, for calling the attention of the people to the message we have to present. At least this is his experience in South Africa, and he feels that it would be the same in many other Places where there are radio restrictions. He is now giving his full time to pushing the Bible correspondence course and developing the interests, from which a great harvest of souls is expected. He here reviews the methods used in building up a list of more than 20,000 students.—Editor.
Here in South Africa only certain of the large established churches have been able to get any religious program on the air. No permission is granted to use the radio for advertising purposes. For some years we have been experimenting with the newspapers as a medium for securing names of persons desiring to take a free Bible correspondence course. Two years ago we tried it in one paper, and in twelve issues secured a thousand names
Because of the encouraging number of baptisms resulting from our work with these people, the union conference asked us to put on a country-wide effort to secure enrollments for a correspondence school. This move was supported by the division and the local conferences. The name Voice of Prophecy Bible School was chosen for the course in English, and in Afrikaans, in which we also conduct this work, it is called Die Stem-Van-Profesie Bybelskool. J. J. B. Combrinck is looking after the Afrikaans part of the work.
In June we began publishing articles in fifteen or twenty papers. These articles appear once a week in both language papers. A sample is shown here. Much thought and study was given to the preparation of these articles. They had to be written in such a way as to cause people to write in for the Bible lessons. There was a remarkable response. Thousands of people asked to enroll, so that at the end of three months we had about twelve thousand names on file. As our present organization can take care of only a certain number, and we are now nearing it, it will be necessary for us to close our lists very soon. The union committee voted that we close enrollments when the list reaches fifteen thousand.
The Bible course consists of twenty-four lessons, and there is a test paper sent with each lesson. About three times during the course we send out with the lessons a few papers, such as Present Truth. Six months' time is required for our class to finish the course. We place one thousand names in a class as a unit by which to work.
From those who are studying the lessons, the responses are most interesting. Many have claimed conversion through the studies. Hundreds are writing that the messages of these lessons are just what they have been praying and looking for.
A dozen workers are busy at our offices, and we marvel every day that so many letters are coming. The number indicates that truly the harvest is ripe. We hope, the Lord willing, to make a still greater effort next year, with a larger and better organized staff to care for a larger enrollment.
The present heavy inflow of names has quite surprised us all, and we were hardly prepared to handle them. When it is remembered that we have fewer than three million white people in this country and that a comparatively small number of the native people read and write English, it can be seen that already we have received a high percentage of names. The church members throughout the country soon began to help gather names, and these have come in very well. Just now the conferences are beginning to train, by a special correspondence course, some five hundred lay Bible intructors to help the regular workers follow up the interest created all over the country. When students finish their course the names will be turned over to these workers and lay workers for personal contact. Thus it becomes a great layman's movement uniting with the workers to finish the work.
Truly we are having wonderful success with our Voice of Prophecy Bible School, and I am working out many new methods of teaching and of securing names. I believe we have a more effective teaching system, so far as getting conversions is concerned, than any other I have seen. We had to stop our advertising in the papers some weeks ago, because we were getting- too many names. We were budgeted to carry only fifteen thousand names, but in spite of everything, the enrollment has gone over twenty thousand already. If we had kept on advertising I believe we would have reached fifty thousand by the end of 1943.
As soon as the tithing question is presented, which comes halfway through the course, we send out a tithe envelope. Only comparatively few have already had these envelopes, but the response has been wonderful. The amounts that have come in are from one to sixty dollars, and we have a large number already who are monthly tithers.
The financial income is far above our highest expectations. We are just beginning to give out the Sabbath lessons, but already we have knowledge of large numbers who have begun to keep the Sabbath.