When an evangelist figures his budget for a-large city evangelistic campaign, he will generally allot one third of his advertising- budget for the purpose of gathering an audience on the first night. Often this would amount to several thousand dollars, an expenditure which in many cases would not be wise. Perhaps it was with this thought in mind that Mrs. White wrote in 1904: "I was given instruction that as we approach the end, there will be large gatherings in our cities, as there has recently been in St. Louis, and that preparations must be made to present the truth at these gatherings." Evangelism, p. 35.
Among these "gatherings" might be a harvest festival, a Memorial Day celebration, a county fair, a Fourth of July celebration, et cetera. We must be wise to know how and when to work for God.
"At every large gathering some of our ministers should be in attendance. They should work wisely to obtain a hearing- and to get the light of the truth before as many as possible. . . .
"We should improve every such opportunity as that presented by the St. Louis Fair. At all such gatherings there should be present men whom God can use. Leaflets containing the light of present truth should be scattered among the people like the leaves of autumn. To many who attend these gatherings these leaflets would be as the leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of the nations." Ibid., pp. 35, 36.
Last fall our local church rented a space in the merchants' building at the large Reading fair. The accompanying photo shows the general plan of the display. The background was draped in a deep wine-colored material. A floodlight was directed upon the picture of Christ, and a second one upon a large Bible.
Under the sign "Back to the Bible" were several small cards which read "For a Happy Home," "For Spiritual Power," and "For a United Church." A white ribbon extended from each card to the Bible.
In the center of the booth at the front was a pentagon turn-table display, above which a globe was mounted. The semicircular sign above the globe read, "Seventh-day Adventists Are Working for a Better World." Half the printing was on each side of the sign. This entire display rotated slowly, attracting considerable attention.
The sides of this pentagon display featured some of our leading publications Signs, Our Times, Liberty, Listen, and Life and Health. Other displays featured our mission program, a free Bible course, and "The Friendly Church With a Message for Today" the local Seventh-day Adventist church.
Thousands of people saw the display, which was the only one sponsored by a church. More than eleven thousand pieces of literature were given away. Comments were encouraging. It can truly be said that the booth was an asset to the denomination.
Another display attraction we have thought of having is an automatic slide-changing ma chine to project colored pictures of current signs of the times upon a small screen in view of everyone who passes by. Included in the slides could be invitations inviting the people to enter the booth, also to enjoy the free pictures in the chapel, which would be arranged in an enclosed back or side portion of the booth.
In the chapel short, illustrated, recorded dis courses could be presented, selected literature could be sent to those who would register for it, and enrollments could be secured for the Bible course.
Next year the church is planning on an expanded program for the fair. We believe that an alert church will find many ways of taking advantage of the opportunities presented in the large gatherings of our cities, and that God will water the seed thus sown.