God's great heart of love has always grieved over the many unwarned in the crowded cities. It was when He saw the multitude that the Master was moved. To Jonah, God said, "Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city?" To the church of that day the Assyrian capital represented wickedness and opposition. To Jehovah it represented need and opportunity. So He sent an evangelist to turn their hearts from sin to holiness. It seemed difficult to get the preacher to his task, but when at last he delivered his message, glorious was the result.
Nineveh was a large city for that time, but compared with some of our modern cities, it would be small. The rapid growth of many of our great centers is amazing. With each new development the evangelist faces a new challenge. City evangelism never was easy, and today it is harder than ever. But the message of grace must be sounded amid the din and clamor of big business.
The apostle to the Gentiles was a city evangelist. He knew that what affected the city influenced the whole countryside. When he wrote to the believers living in the capita] of the empire, he called them "beloved of God." He reminded them that they were "called" to belong to Jesus Christ and "called to be saints." One would hardly think of ancient Rome, that wicked, immoral city, as a center for saints. But the spirit of holiness separated them from the corruption on every hand and made them a colony of heaven, that they might reveal the power of the resurrection in their daily lives. And the same power that purified the lives of those whom grace had salvaged from the moral wreckage of the Greco- Roman world, the same power that brought a wicked Assyrian city to repentance, is the power that is promised to those who today will be a voice for God to the multitudes. As this issue goes to press a group of loyal workers are laying the groundwork for a large evangelistic program in the city of New York. In some respects this great metropolis might be called the greatest evangelistic challenge of our time. Facts and figures have a way of impressing us. Think of these:
"Seven million people within the city limits.
"Twelve million people in greater New York.
"Twenty million within sound of radio voice.
"One-seventh of the nation's population.
"Fifty tongues spoken.
"Sixty per cent foreign born.
"More Italians in New York than in Rome.
"More Jews congregated in New York than at any other time or place in Jewish history.
"More Irishmen than in Dublin.
"More Negroes than in any southern city.
"One third Jewish.
"One third nominally Roman Catholic.
"Only thirty per cent with any consistent religions affiliation.
"A greater population than forty-one of the seventy-five nations in the world.
"One thousand night clubs in the city.
"A total of 3,181 churches of 114 denominations.
"Eighteen thousand men in the police force.
"At least 3,650,000 people over fourteen years of age not accounted for by any religious organization of the city. . . .
"New York is a modern Babylon. Every minister is a Daniel in that Babylon." MEL LARSOX in God's Man in Manhattan.
In this area, within a radius of twenty miles, live more than twelve million people. They represent practically every race, kindred, and tongue under heaven. Here can be found more Jews than have ever resided in any one place at any time in the history of the world. And here too are Russians, Danes, Germans, Poles, Chinese, Indians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Syrians, English, Negroes millions of them huddled together; yet all Americans, and all needing to hear the message for this hour.
A challenge indeed!
E. L. Branson, president of the Greater New York Conference, has, with his committee, planned a program of evangelism larger than has ever been attempted hitherto. For this project all the Adventist churches in the area are uniting more than thirty in all. These represent many language groups and cultures. Half a century ago clear counsel came from the Lord concerning this great center. We were told that "a determined effort must be made to unify our churches in New York and the surrounding cities. This can be done, and it must be done if aggressive warfare in New York is successfully carried forward." Evangelism, pp. 388, 389. (Italics sup plied.) It is not easy to bring various cultures and languages into harmonious action. Nothing short of the power of Pentecost can accomplish it.
Several departmental leaders from the General Conference are also uniting with pastors and leaders of New York for this campaign. This effort will thus give opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of coordinated evangelism. We will give a more detailed report of this organization later.
Meetings each Sunday night will be held in Carnegie Hall, beginning September 9. and running through December 30. For sixty years this hall has been the center of New York's culture and music. Other important halls are also being used for week- night meetings. The radio and television programs are also joining in the program. And for the leadership of this giant plan the brethren have called upon your editor.
The overwhelming weight of such a project urges me to appeal to you all to remember me and my associate workers before the throne of grace as we move into this venture for God. To cast about for some Tar- shish somewhere would b'£ easier than accepting this tremendous task. Others of my fellow evangelists will enter into my feelings, for it humbles one to sense the full impact of such a task. Uplifting Christ before the millions calls for everything we have or ever can be, under God. But dare we flee from His presence? Dare we hesitate in an hour when a sense of doom hangs over all great cities? Instead, we go forth in humility and faith, believing that God is leading, and confident that He who called us by His grace will surely endow us with the Spirit of holiness and the power of His resurrection to go forth to the multitudes calling them to the obedience of faith.
Pray for us, brethren, and for all who in this age of skepticism are sent to the cities to proclaim the message "Behold your God!"