The year 1949 promises to be a banner year in soul winning in the Inter-American Division. We have already received the reports from the field for the first two quarters of the year, and these show a gain of five hundred in baptisms over the first six months of 1948.
A division council and ministerial institute were held in Santa Clara, Cuba, in December, 1948, and I personally feel that the inspiration and instruction given at these meetings has been a great help in uniting us all in forward-looking plans. At these meetings almost all our local and union field leaders were present, and we were privileged to have the help of several leaders from the General Conference, together with the division staff. A large number of our evangelists and pastors attended these meetings.
We have received reports from 28 of our 33 local fields, and these show that 235 regular evangelistic efforts will be held in our division in 1949. These efforts will vary in length, but it can be assumed that in them present truth will be fairly well covered in the sermons. Reports show that 130 spearhead efforts will be held by our regular ministry all over our field, which covers 27 countries and major dependencies. A total of 365 regular and spearhead efforts will be held during the year, or an average of one effort beginning each day of 1949.
Our fields report that 724 lay preacher efforts will be held from one end of the field to the other, all around the Caribbean Sea. Much credit for this movement among the laymen is due the home missionary men throughout the field, under the able leadership of Wesley Amundsen. Scores of ten-day schools for laymen have been largely responsible for the instructing and training of this layman army. Our local fields right around the circle are placing more and more emphasis on this phase of the work.
Our fields have been encouraged to enter new territory with evangelistic efforts and church buildings. In some places it is necessary to have a building before an effort can be held. The laws of some countries make it illegal or inadvisable to hold meetings in other than regular church buildings. To our Puerto Rico field really belongs the honor of blazing the trail in systematically planning to enter new territory. Under the leadership of Stanley Folkenberg, president of the field, and David Baasch, the Puerto Rico committee took a map of the island and marked off the "black municipalities"—those where there were no Seventh-day Adventists--and then made definite plans to enter those unworked territories. As I remember it, in one year they entered nineteen new municipalities. Under the leadership of Charles Beeler plans are being laid to enter new territory in the promising cities of Venezuela. Our other field organizations are giving earnest consideration to their unworked territory, and space would fail me to describe in detail the excellent plans being carried out. On the reports received from the local fields 213 new places are being entered by our evangelists this year.
R. H. Pierson, president of the Caribbean Union, has been the champion of keeping before our local fields and churches the high value of having a baptism in every church every quarter. This is indeed a good plan. By this plan the interested ones are baptized when their spiritual condition is ready, and the baptisms do not accumulate for the last part of the year.
Richard Delafield has conducted a public effort through a translator in Panama City. In the past we have had no success reaching the Latin-American public through translators. But from the first, Elder Delafield's meetings were well attended, and at the close something like two hundred were well on their way toward being prepared for baptism.
In French Guiana our workers through the years have earnestly toiled for a foothold, as it were, in this remote territory. As I understand it, we have never been able even to get more than one or two interested through our most earnest work in that field. A. H. Linzau, from the French West Indies Mission, was sent to Cayenne, and at last the Holy Spirit's pleadings are being heeded by the people of Cayenne, French Guiana. When I visited there in February of this year, Elder Linzau had a company of fifteen baptized members, and hopes to win another twenty in 1949. In numbers this seems small, but we consider this a signal victory for the gospel cause in this difficult field.
Right through the territory of the Inter-American Division our union and local field leaders are earnestly pushing forward on a strong evangelistic program, and we know God will reward all these efforts with precious souls in the kingdom.
WALTER E. MURRAY, Association Secretary, Inter-America