Please, sir, could you tell me the way to the Adventist church?" "Well, I think it's over that way somewhere. But wait—do they have a church in this town?"
"Oh, yes! I'm sure there is one somewhere here. I thought you might know where it is located."
"No, I'm sorry. But if it is anywhere, I think it will be over in that section somewhere."
Did you ever participate in a dialogue of that sort? Then you know what we are talking about. How difficult it is sometimes to locate our places of worship ! The church that above all others should be as "a city set on a hill that cannot be hid," is too often obscure, unknown, and ignored.
Has not the time come when every Adventist church should be known, and its influence felt in the community? The one thing the world could not do with the apostolic church was to ignore it. 'Those early Christians were maligned, persecuted, and killed, but they could not be ignored. Something always seemed to be happening. They were either in "a riot or a revival," and often in both. But in spite of everything, a river of blessing flowed from that group of Christians that brought life, health, peace, and power to those who heeded their message. Cities were shaken, and whole communities turned upside down.
In the closing of earth's history such scenes will be repeated. Indeed, they are being repeated in many places today. During the last decade Adventists have become more and more widely known throughout the world. The war that resulted in such desolation to the world brought our work to the attention of multiplied millions. Our health, radio, and press bureau work in many countries is giving us marvelous publicity. People know and appreciate the principles for which we stand. More than that, many are looking for light, "waiting only to be gathered in."
What are we doing to capitalize on this greatly changed attitude ? We have nothing to fear, and nothing for which we need be ashamed, except as we shall "forget the way the Lord has led us." and fail to give the light to others. This we dare not do.
One of our great objectives should be to make every church a spiritual hospital and a training ground for new recruits in spiritual nursing. Many of our neighbors are wounded in the battle for life, and need the comfort and consolation of the gospel. Others are looking for avenues of service where they can devote their lives to some worthy cause. Our message and our organization meet these needs, but too often these wounded or energetic ones do not know where to find us. They are waiting—yes, waiting to be healed and waiting to be used.
Years ago we were Ingathering in a town in New Zealand. We called on a Chinese merchant. He showed particular interest, then called his wife. She spoke very little English, but got quite excited when she saw a certain illustration in the leaflet. It was a picture of one of our schools in China, and she had been one of the students. She was an Adventist at heart, but had grown- careless. She was surprised to discover that there was an Adventist church in that town, although it was only a few blocks from where they were living. The next Sabbath she and her two children were at Sabbath school, rejoicing in the fellowship so real among the Advent family.
We have more to do than hold our own and get our financial goals. These are important, but the Lord lays on us an even greater goal : "Wherever a church is established, all the members should engage actively in missionary work. They should visit every family in the neighborhood, and know their spiritual condition."—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 296.
Visiting every family and becoming so well acquainted as to know their spiritual condition means organization, instruction, and inspiration on the part of our pastors and leaders. After making such a community- or city-wide survey, the people should at least know where the Adventist church is located, and then be encouraged to fellowship with us.
Even the transient visitor should know where our church is. Frequently when driving into a town we see directional notices, such as "Three blocks to the Lutheran Church," or Baptist, or Methodist church. For years we have urged that similar notices of welcome and direction be placed in every city and town where Adventist churches are located. We are now happy to report that a series of such notices have at last been made available. We know that the announcement appearing on page 44 of this issue will be welcome news. And we could hope that throughout North America, and in other countries where such service could be made available, all our churches will take advantage of this opportunity, of becoming better known in their communities.
Why should we hide our light under a bushel? Rather, let us put it on a candlestick. A dark world needs the beneficent beams of a message which comforts, heals, inspires, and empowers. The last prophetic picture of this Advent Movement is of the angel lighting the whole world with the glory of the truth we all love. It is a glorious picture. May we all plan and work to make it a reality.
R. A. A.