Evangelism in Bombed Britain

Challenge of a World Task

By ROY L. BENTON, Camp Pastor, Central Union Conference

In October of 1944 I was sent to England, where I was commissioned to contact our servicemen from the United States who had been sent to the European theater of war, and to help them in any way I could. It was my privilege to visit many of our Adventist youth in the British Isles and a few in France.

During the six months in which I was carrying out this assignment, England was experiencing at­tacks by flying bombs and rocket bombs, which wrought terrible destruction in many places. But prior to that it had experienced the "blitzes," which were still more devastating in places. Be­cause of the danger of aerial attacks, a strict black­out was enforced during the war years, which made it very difficult for people to get about at night. Many public buildings were destroyed or damaged, so that it was well-nigh impossible to secure any kind of suitable place to hold evangelis­tic. meetings, even if the people could get out. Al­together, the outlook for aggressive evangelism was not encouraging.

But there is power in the message, in the Book that contains the message, and in the prayers of those who believe and give the message. The prophet had foretold the onward flight of the mes­sage to all peoples and tongues; and our faithful workers believed they were the children of the prophecy. So they went forward by faith, often holding meetings in small improvised quarters. Sometimes these were held at three in the after­noon, at other times at five or six. The groups were frequently large, but more often small. The workers followed on with Bible studies, literature distribution, and personal work, never accepting defeat.

At Liverpool, my first contact found Pastor Elias giving out papers, holding Bible studies, con­ducting cottage meetings, Sunday afternoon meet­ings, and sometimes Sabbath afternoon meetings for non-Adventists--and courageously pressing on. Baptisms were sometimes few, with a long space between, but he never stopped giving the message.

At Hull, first there was Brother Vine, then when he was moved came Pastor Zins, who had been laboring in Ireland. I found these men giv­ing out literature, setting the church at work, and holding meetings in the afternoon because people would not venture out at night when there were no lights. I was told that more than ninety per cent of the houses in Hull had been damaged to some extent by the blitz bombing. Large sections of the shopping district were erased—a large wing on the main hospital in the city was blown away. Yet in all this destruction and darkness, people came to hear the Word, and it did not return void.

The younger workers in Britain are courageous and are eager for larger opportunities than they now have. They are forging ahead, making head­way slowly but surely. The converts made during these days seem steadfast.

Newbold College is turning out workers in goodly numbers each year, and the fields are ab­sorbing them in the work. They are giving prom­ise of being strong workers. Even when there seems to be no way to carry on evangelism, they stay by until they find a way.

The colporteurs all seem to be soul winners as well, and they unite their efforts wholeheartedly with the preacher-evangelists, with good results.

Pastor Lowe, the union conference president, with local conference executives in England, Scot­land, Ireland, and Wales, is watching for souls and placing emphasis upon evangelism.

I met many of the church pastors throughout the British Isles, and without exception I found them planning and working to find souls and bring them to the truth. They do not let the destruction and disaster around them turn them away from their purpose of soul winning.

Our people generally are strongly supporting the evangelistic program, both with their means and with their personal service. Altogether, con­sidering all the things to detract, I think our work­ers and believers in Great Britain are to be com­mended for the way they have carried on with the spreading of the everlasting gospel during these years of stress.

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By ROY L. BENTON, Camp Pastor, Central Union Conference

September 1945

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