Identity in Small City Effort

A report from recent efforts.

By A. C. MARPLE, Pastor, Huntingdon, West Virginia

It was a hot day last summer in the soft coal capital of West Virginia. The evange­list had shed his coat because of the extreme heat. He had stopped at a filling station, and noticed a man standing near by watching him. Finally the man spoke, "Do you know who I thought you were at first? I thought you were that Advent preacher from down at the tent. You resemble him a lot." The evangelist, desir­ing to get the outsider's viewpoint, merely an­swered, "Do I ?"

"You sure do—look enough like him to be him. He certainly has been preaching the Bible. I always wondered what those Advents be­lieved, and now that I'm finding out, I juSt about agree with them."

This was but one of the many results that came from advertising the campaign as being sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventists. The advertising was designed to create interest and eliminate suspicion. The people did not attend the services wondering who was conducting them. Before the opening night we placed a notice, similar to the following, in the newspa­per and announced it on the radio:

"The Seventh-day Adventist Churches of West Vir­ginia Are Pleased to Bring to the People of Logan, Evangelist Marple, Who Will Present Messages on Bible Prophecy.

The local Ministerial Association had a meet­ing and discussed the possibility of stopping the meetings which were about to open in the tent, but one of their own number reminded them, "Our hands are tied. There is nothing we can do. The Adventists have as much right to preach as we do." The one main argument that other ministers like to use against Advent­ists was eliminated, because our identity was not hidden.

The meetings opened with a capacity crowd, and all through the campaign the interest ran high. Meetings were conducted six nights a week for two months and five nights a week for the last month. Ministers from the other churches attended almost every night, and at some of the lectures there were as many as six present. They came, not to discover who we were, but to hear what we had to say.

Preceding the evening's lecture, we set up a projector and showed pictured truth on the screen. The plan was to present briefly on the screen the lecture that had been given the previous evening. This served two beneficial purposes. First, it reviewed the subject and fas­tened it more firmly in the minds of those who had attended the meeting the night before. Sec­ond, it gave those who had missed the lecture an opportunity to hear it, making it easier for follow-up work in the homes.

These meetings were conducted in a dark city, with not even one Adventist living there. The Voice of Prophecy and the Bible course were used to prepare the field, along with lit­erature distribution and strong colporteur work.

As the result of these meetings twenty-one members with their children are looking for­ward to our Lord's soon return. Five others will join these at the next baptism. Of this group there are seven or eight united families.

We maintained the good will of the local ministers in Logan, and became especially friendly with the Catholic priest and the Pres­byterian minister. For six months the Presby­terians opened their church to our believers, until we were able to buy a church building.

The Logan church was remodeled, and invi­tations to be present at the organization of the church were extended to the business people of the city, as well as to the general public. The local newspaper carried a write-up on the front page the day before the organization. When the day set apart for the formal organization of the Logan, West Virginia, Seventh-day Ad­ventist church arrived, the seating space was inadequate for the people who came. Ten months from the beginning of the meetings a church was organized, with a permanent church home.

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By A. C. MARPLE, Pastor, Huntingdon, West Virginia

October 1949

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