Evangelism by Bible Instructors

A story from World War II.

By DAVID G. ROSE, Director of European Relief for the General Conference

During World War II six hundred thousand men were mobilized out of a popula­tion of four million people in Finland. Most of the Adventist ministers in this small country were drafted into the army. In many instances there seemed to be no other choice but to put the Bible instructors in charge of the churches as well as some of the evangelistic efforts.

In the first instance where this was done the minister had not yet been drafted. He had felt impressed to open up work in a new place, and had then left his Bible instructor, a young woman of twenty-five, to bind off his evange­listic effort. The Bible instructor, feeling her inability to cope with the situation, enlisted the prayers of some of the sisters in the church that God would supplement her efforts with His blessings. The earnest prayers of this group bore fruit, and a revival came in the church without most of the members' knowing that these women were praying for them. The young Bible instructor lost her fear of audi­ences, and began to present the truth in a clear, forceful manner. She did not mince her words ; and some even feared that her clear, cutting statements would drive people away, but the public came back to hear more of our message. That was eight years ago, and since that time she has been continuously carrying on success­ful evangelistic campaigns. During the last eighteen months, she, with the help of two other Bible instructors, has helped to bring 130 people to the decision of baptism.

This sister is only one of the nine women evangelists that we have in Finland. Recently it was my privilege to interview one of these evangelists, and to discover something of the methods used in her work. This particular young woman was a graduate of our school and had canvassed for seven summers. She had then been in Bible work four years. In January, 1948, she opened a series of meetings in the small town of Laakoski, a place where the mes­sage had not yet been proclaimed. Another Bible instructor opened a series of meetings in another village four miles away. Thus they were close enough so that they could assist each other when necessary.

The Bible instructor inserted a notice in the local paper and put up five posters advertising the first meeting, which was to be held in a pri­vate home. Only twenty people came to the meeting on the first Sunday night, but by Wed­nesday night the news had spread throughout the surrounding country, and seventy people were present. From then on, the attendance averaged from fifty to seventy at each meeting. New posters were put up each week, announc­ing the subjects and the home of the person where the meeting was to be held, because this varied from week to week. After each meeting she handed to each person a tract on the sub­ject she had presented. She made a point of visiting the most interested people once a week, and the others as often as time would permit.

When she presented the testing truths, the people still continued to come, but the local minister of the state church tried to prejudice the people against her. He warned everyone to stay at least two kilometers (1.2 miles) away from her. This stirred up the whole village, and some of the people actually became hostile. When things were at their lowest ebb for our cause, the village schoolteacher encouraged her to continue her work, stating that she had wrought a wholesome change in the village. Then the Bible instructor persisted in her ef­forts, and- the tide eventually turned. By the middle of June, when she closed her meetings, ten people were ready for baptism, and a large group were deeply interested in the truth. An­other Bible instructor who was working near by had eight souls ready for baptism. Neither of these young women had ever held meetings before. This gives promise that other Bible in­structors may be developed into fruitful soul winners.

These experiences give promise that God is still waiting to do a larger Bible work through humble, consecrated women. God is not without witnesses for His message. The Holy Spirit still works upon the hearts of men in spite of the most foreboding circumstances. In an old copy of the Review and Herald, May 9, 1899, Mrs. White says, "All minds are not reached by the same methods." She continues :

"Teach this, my sister. You have many ways opened before you. Address the crowd whenever you can ; hold every jot of influence you can by any association that can be made the means of introducing the leaven to the meal. Every man and every woman has a work to do for the Master. Personal consecration and sanc­tification to God will accomplish, through the most simple methods, more than the most imposing dis­play."—Evangelism, p. 473.

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By DAVID G. ROSE, Director of European Relief for the General Conference

May 1949

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