One important task confronting every worker in the advent movement is that of laboring for those who walk no more with us. Practically every church has in its books either members who are not attending services or those who have been dropped for one reason or another.
Whether they have grown cold through neglect, indifferent from contact with the world, or confused in their religious thinking, they have souls, and a tremendous responsibility rests upon the advent worker to warm them up and win them back into the fold again. Does not inspiration refer to such as "wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever"? Jude 13. What a challenge to the worker for God to snatch from eternal darkness those who have wandered away from the light.
There are many well-known methods of working for backsliders. It is thy purpose to explain one that has been used most effectively here in Jamaica and other fields of the British West Indies Union. Through its use scores of careless and indifferent backsliders have been restored to church fellowship during the past few years.
We call this the Reunion Day plan. It originated with two West Indian Training College theological students -pastoring a church near their school during their college days.
First the church books are gone through carefully, and a list is compiled of all members who have been dropped, together with those who are still members but are not attending. These persons are written a personal friendly letter inviting them to attend a special service at their old church on a certain Sabbath. The service is referred to as a reunion day, for it is a special occasion when all the members and former members will be together in a truly church-family reunion. Care is taken in writing the letters of invitation so that backsliding and reclaiming is not even vaguely hinted at.
The program on the designated Sabbath should not be a trap. It should, however, be an exceptionally interesting one, from the first hymn in the Sabbath school to the final benediction when the last service closes. Care should be taken in the selection of hymns, Scripture lesson, mission reading, secretary's report, sermon preached, and all accompanying remarks. Everything should be so selected and rendered as to revive in the memory of the backslider the scenes of his zealous first love, and to create within his heart a desire to renew his old associations.
The Sabbath school secretary's report could well include a very brief and interesting résumé of the Sabbath school in that particular place through the years. The songs that are sung should be the old favorites, freighted heavily with the love of the Saviour and the imminence of His second advent. The morning sermon should be a timely message of the solemn days in which we live, accompanied by a heart-warming appeal for preparation.
Where it is possible and convenient, the services here in Jamaica usually extend through the entire day, with an appropriate and well-planned young people's meeting Sabbath afternoon to make a special appeal to the young folk who have dropped out by the wayside.
Most important of all is the intercessory prayer that should characterize the preparations that are made before the reunion day finally arrives. Church officers and members should be called to earnest wrestling with God in behalf of those who need help. And when the day finally arrives, let every member and officer go out of his way in extending a sincere and friendly welcome to every needy person present. Then the work that has been begun at this service must be further followed tip by future friendly visits in the homes with invitations to return regularly.
This plan has meant much to our work here in Jamaica the past few years, and while it may not work as effectively in all parts of the world, yet there must be many places where the blessing of God could use reunion days to reclaim many who walk no more with us.