Spiritual Rehabilitation Needed Today

As Christ needed to dedicate Himself, so also we need a spiritual preparation today.

By LEWIS H. CHRISTIAN, Vice-President of the General Conference

 The people of God today are face to face with the hardest struggle and the darkest days, as well as the greatest victory, that they will ever see. As Christ needed to dedicate Himself, so also we need a spiritual preparation today. We hear much about the rehabilitation of mission buildings and institutions in the stricken areas overseas. We talk about clothing, food, money, and other forms of relief. These things are im­portant, but the church of Christ today needs a great rehabilitation of heart far more. Our fellow members in other lands have come through a tre­mendous test. While the message, to our great joy, has found its way in triumph, and while the larger part of God's people have stood firm, we hear enough to know that all have been sorely tried. It would be strange indeed if some had not been influenced by what they have seen through these dreadful years of hardship, but even those who have come through, by the grace of God, will need a fresh touch of love and courage.

Here at the home base, when speaking of Ad­ventists in all the earth, we are often asked, Does the brotherhood hold, and will we after this war stand united as one people as in former decades ? Thus far we have had no real schism in the Ad­ventist Church, and we are almost the only de­nomination-of which that can be said. Overseas, however, our people do not so much ask, Will the brotherhood hold? as, Will the brotherhood help ?

What are our Adventist believers really like in these countries of carnage, famine, and suffering? What are they like in Russia, where they have not had a conference or a tract or a Sabbath- school leaflet now for more than thirty years ? What are they like in Italy, France, Holland, and other coun­tries of the war, after they have had nothing to read in the papers or to hear on the radio but the deceptions that are destroying the world today? We ask, and wonder—but we do not know. We do know from reports that have come in round­about ways that the state of mind in those lands is something entirely new in history—and it is anti-Christian.

Will Soviet Russia and other lands grant people religious freedom after this war ? Will our inter­national, world-wide organization, broken down in so many places, be permitted in Russia? We know how bitter the Nazis have been against missions and against genuine Christianity as a whole. But we are not to be pessimistic. God will work for us. The truth will triumph.

After World War I there were three things that helped us to hold together. First, temporary relief. That is, food and clothing, especially for the chil­dren. Second, a large foreign mission program in heathen lands. By going to work for others, the European Adventists forgot their own differences. The third and greatest thing that helped twenty-five years ago was a great spiritual awakening and revival. And that is the only thing that will bring us through today.

The supreme question for us to consider is really not so much what we shall find concerning our brethren overseas but what they will find in us. Will those leaders who go over to visit them be Spirit filled? Will the unity of the church and the spiritual power here at home be such that we can bring to God's children overseas that courage and cheer, that hope and love, that will set their hearts on fire for Christ and the advent hope ? If we want spiritual rehabilitation in the lands that have come through the war, we must first find it in our own hearts and churches and conferences.

There is something unusual in meeting a group of Adventists who have neither seen any of their brethren nor had any meetings in many years. I remember the first Adventists that I met in the Baltic States in 1920. It was a small group, and they were in prison. The prison officer said to me, "Do you, an American, want to see them? They are a wicked lot." I replied, "But they are my brethren. We have the same faith, and I want to help them." When I was brought in to them they stared at me as if surprised, wondering what I would say. I looked at them and in my heart cried to God for spiritual power to comfort and guide these sad, suffering people. I found a similar ex­perience on my first visit to Rumania. The best approach to these people is to begin with a little heart-to-heart talk, and an earnest prayer for the Adventist people in all the world. If we are to stand together in the love Of present truth, we church members here in America must lead the way by a new, complete dedication to a united faith and an unselfish spirit of service. The Adventist brotherhood is held together not by money or numbers but by unselfish love.

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By LEWIS H. CHRISTIAN, Vice-President of the General Conference

July 1945

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