How shall we reach the small towns and villages with populations from five to fifty thousand—places where a regular effort is not likely to be held? Shall they remain everlastingly neglected? Can there be no plan devised whereby these people can share with us the blessings of the third angel's message ? Surely these people must be reached before Christ can come! If we understand our mission in this world correctly, as God's people, we are entrusted with the everlasting gospel to be given in one generation, and to place within the reach of all mankind the opportunity to know God's warning message for today. (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 14:6-12.) "We call anew for pioneering evangelism in the great unentered areas of earth. We call for rural evangelism, town and city evangelism."—The Ministry, July Extra, 1946, p. 7.
The Bible and the Spirit of prophecy declare:
"And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God."—Luke 8:1.
"Jesus did not neglect the villages. The record declares that 'He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.' "—Evangelism, p. 52.
"There are many places to be worked. Every town or village on the railway is to have the message the Lord has given us. We cannot stop to rejoice over a few victories. We must press the battle to the very gate."—Ibid., p. 426.
"One of dignity and authority—One who is present in all our council meetings—was listening with deepest interest to every word. He spoke with deliberation and perfect assurance. 'The whole world,' He said, 'is God's great vineyard. The cities and villages constitute a part of that vineyard. These must be worked.' "—Evangelism, p. 41.
We wish to present the plan that has been worked out in the Rhodesia-Bechuanaland Conference. Among the European people here there is not a single dark county, city, town, or village. And so far as we know, every home has been reached. Before this program was launched there were only three cities and two towns where any work had been done. We were able to cover the entire scattered territory in about six months. Our offerings covered all rentals and advertising expenses and left us with about fifty dollars' profit. The method of finance I used may not be advisable for a regular worker, but since our evangelistic funds were low, I went out canvassing at the same time we carried on the Voice of Prophecy program. In this way the work was self-supporting as far as holding meetings was concerned, and I was able to raise about $1,600 for evangelistic work in the future.
On the whole I believe the plan we used reaches the maximum number of people in the minimum length of time. The five main features of the plan are as follows:
I. A town or village is visited. Announcements are distributed. (We have all our announcements made out in advance, leaving a blank space in which to fill in the date, time, and place. It takes weeks to get printing done here. Window cards were made up after the same order.)
2. The Bible lecture given is preferably on Daniel 2, with a few thoughts on Armageddon at the conclusion, at which time we explain that this is one of the subjects that come with the Voice of Prophecy Bible Correspondence Course. At the end of the meeting we pass out enrollment cards to the audience, giving opportunity to join the correspondence school. About eighty or ninety per cent of those present eagerly sign for the lessons. In order to encourage the people to sign for the course I raise such questions as, "What is the mark of the Beast ?" "Will the Jews go back to Jerusalem?" "Are we nearing Armageddon?" and other stirring questions. I tell them that these and many other questions will be answered in their Voice of Prophecy lessons. Those people who sign the enrollment cards get all twenty-four lessons, and in this way they get the essentials of the full message. Among those who attend the meeting will be found a first-class interest.
3. We visit every home, and place with each family a Voice of Prophecy pamphlet and enrollment card. These make it possible for the people to secure the lessons whether they come to the meeting or not. These visits mean much toward getting people out to the meeting. In this way a personal touch is given to our work. By this method of approach we have been able to get out record-breaking audiences in the towns we visited. We did not use our names or pictures on the announcements, but just stated, "The Voice of Prophecy Presents," followed by the subject "Will Atomic Energy or the U.N.O. Bring Us World Peace?"
4. In addition to these personal visits, everyone outside of town in the local postal district is mailed the Voice of Prophecy pamphlet and enrollment card, along with an announcement of the meeting.
5. To secure the names of those in the towns as well as in the post office district, we use the voter's roll. We have arranged with the Voice of Prophecy, Cape Town, that these people receive the first three lessons in sequence. The third lesson is accompanied by a reply card which must be filled in and returned if the lessons are to be continued.
This plan is not original with us, as I have found many others thinking along the same lines. But as far as we know, this is the first time it has been carried out on a large scale.
We might cite a few experiences. Through our public meeting in one place we met a young man who not only had finished the Voice of Prophecy lessons but had also taken a course in Daniel and Revelation. He is having a deep experience in the Lord and is now attending Helderberg College. He plans to train for the Master's service and give his life as a missionary. He already is doing what he can for the natives. The young man told us how he found a Voice of Prophecy enrollment card in his home. Not knowing where it came from, he signed, and sent it in for the lessons. Thus he became interested in the truth, which he is now accepting. We left him a supply of enrollment cards, and he wrote us that he has them all filled out, ready to send to Cape Town to the Voice of Prophecy.
It was also our privilege to meet a young Jewish lad from Northern Rhodesia, who became interested in the message in the same way —by signing a little enrollment card. I had the joy of baptizing him in the Bulawayo church on a recent Sabbath, and it was amazing to find how well grounded he was. He could answer all questions asked him by three ordained ministers and two local elders. He even knew some of the finer points of the message, and was already a vegetarian. He had no other instruction but from the Voice of Prophecy. He is now canvassing, and will later go to Helderberg College to prepare for service.
We believe the Lord permitted us to reach these two young men for our own encouragement, that we might get a broader vision of the possibilities of this type of work. To realize that these two young men were led to the truth by simply signing an enrollment card! Multiply the possibilities of the thousands of cards we have distributed like the leaves of autumn.
We are fully persuaded that the Lord will use this plan as one of the methods to bring the gospel of Revelation 14:6-12 to all the world. All the Europeans in Africa could be reached in this general sense in a comparatively short time in this way. We may not have time or means to hold efforts in every town and village, for the end is near. But we can hold a meeting or two and give everyone an opportunity to learn God's warning message for today through the Bible correspondence school. Thus the gospel commission of Matthew 24:14 will have been fulfilled in Africa. Our work is to bring the gospel of the kingdom to all the world. We know, of course, that only a comparative few will accept it. But our responsibility is to give all peoples an opportunity to accept or reject it. I do believe that this method will be one of the means that will help fulfill Romans 9:28: "For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth."
We are looking forward with anticipation to entering the long-neglected fields of Northern Rhodesia. There is a tremendous thrill in trail blazing for God. We have dedicated our lives to evangelism in places where we have no church or where no effort has been held. At present we have started an evangelistic effort in Southern Rhodesia's third largest place, where we have European members.
To those who feel their evangelistic hopes are doomed when they come to the mission field, I would say that they are entirely wrong. However, one must have a vision to recognize that true evangelism means more than large audiences. The Lord's vineyard must be considered as a whole, and no part of it should go unworked.