It must be increasingly apparent to all who have been thoughtfully following our expanding radio Bible correspondence school program that God is verily leading us in this work. The very origin of the plan is typical of God's way of doing things. While a minister on the Atlantic Coast was impressed to perfect a plan of Bible study by printed individual lessons, another on the Pacific was urged to pioneer the presentation of the everlasting gospel by radio. Neither knew that he was providing a companion plan for the other. But when it became evident that this gospel could not be presented over the air fully enough, these printed lessons were called in to remedy that weakness, and the two plans became one.
This combination method of giving present truth is of necessity reversing our customary approach to the' public, a fact of which we may be scarcely aware as yet. The usual approach is, of course, well known. By every consistent means at our command we seek to publish to all that a man with a message has come to town. The bigger the audience, the greater the number of interested individuals we expect to find. But the radio and Bible school reverse this procedure by quietly locating our interested individuals first of all. With these as a nucleus, we go on to build up the interest in as public a manner as the situation seems to require. But instead of having to promote our cause singlehanded, we now have a company of students and radio friends of various churches, whose influence favors our mission far more than our lone traditional approach could.
Where this visitation program has preceded, the attendance at otir public meetings may not vary much from that where the traditional approach has been employed, but the percentage of potential Adventists in them is certain to be far greater from the start. (The plan discussed here assumes that every home in the community has been personally visited and invited to enroll' in the Bible school, as outlined in the previous article.)
This quiet approach, which our radio Bible correspondence schools provide, turns out to be that better approach counseled us years ago. Those who have never heard of the best way to start a church or build up one already started, can more fully share my own feelings when I first read this instruction from Evangelism:
" "The work is to commence Cmietly without noise or trumpeting. It is to commence by giving Bible readings and thus educating the people. This plan will be far more efficient than starting in with sermons. . . .
"I tell you in the name of the Lord that with your present force of workers, you are not prepared to engage in work in a hard place where the prejudice is strong. If half the time usually spent in making public effort were devoted to house-to-house teaching, till the people had become acquainted with the religious sincerity of the workers and with the reasons of their faith, it would be much better. After this work has been done, it could be decided whether a more expensive effort would be advisable.
"Public efforts have been made which have accomplished good. Some have responded and received the truth, but, oh, how few these have been. The Lord desires that the truth shall come close to the people, and this work can only be accomplished by personal labor." —Page 445.
Another related factor that should be observed here is the effect of such personal labor upon the minister himself. Every divinely called worker longs to be a more sucgessful soul winner. But—and let us admit it without embarrassment—many a godly minister among us is a poor platform evangelist. That is not his gift. However, let him enter a district where a handful of seekers for truth have already been found, and he will share in the joy that comes to his brethren whose evangelistic gifts are at their best in the pulpit. He too will add many new believers to the church, and his own soul will be greatly refreshed, and his ministry to the church will be of greater value. I may add that I am speaking humbly from my own experience here.
A third change that our follow-up work in the Ontario-Quebec Conference has indicated affects the colporteur evangelist. The enrollees in our Bible correspondence schools are proving to be excellent customers for our publications. Without employing the sales methods commonly used by the successful colporteur, and without ever pressing a student to buy, the Spirit of God has used my simple presentation on The Great Controversy to sell seventy-one copies. More than one of every four who saw the book in my hands bought it. It remains to be seen what success would come to one who used proper sales methods in a district where one family in every three or four has its name in our Bible school files.
The final and most far-reaching change of all that our radio Bible schools promise, touches the experience of our entire church body. In this conference we are having to look more and more to our consecrated brethren and sisters in the church as fellow-workers in this follow-up program. Our ministers and Bible instructors could not begin to call at every home where our students live. This is a work that will have to rest on the shoulders of the church itself. Our members must be trained, and trained quickly for this work, ere these doors are closed again. Our ministers will have more calls for efforts than our present force can conduct, but these efforts will be much more successful than those of the old type have been. Also, they will in many cases be of shorter duration. And what does all this mean?
"When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God."—Ibid., p. 699.
Truly then, our expanding radio work and Bible correspondence schools are of God. But their tremendous possibilities take form only as we carry on the visitation program that they entail. Let us not hesitate because of the changes in method this may involve. The changes they necessitate seem to be those seen by the messenger of God as His work neared completion.
(1) If the work of temperance were carried forward by us as it was begun thirty years ago; if at our camp meetings we presented before the people the evils of intemperance in eating and drinking, and especially the evil of liquor-drinking; if these things were presented in 'connection with the evidences of Christ's soon coming, there would be a shaking among the people. If we showed a zeal in proportion to the importance of the truths we are handling, we might be instrumental in rescuing hundreds, yea thousands, from min.—Counsels on Health, PP. 433, 434.