EVANGELISM

contains two articles

The Joys of Evangelistic Service

HUBERTUS WILL, Evangelist, Switzerland

Serve the Lord with gladness." Ps. 100:2. Doesn't it sound like a solemn challenge and at the same time an encouragement for each one who has yielded himself to the Lord as a servant? To serve because one must is not even half service, and certainly it will be without gladness. To serve as an evangelist is not always easy, and yet it must be done, because the Lord has commanded it. "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me." 1 Cor. 9:16, 17.

How thankful we should be for the grace of the calling! Have we any reason for complaining? Nevertheless, we should recognize that the proclamation of the three angels' messages today places much greater requirements upon the evangelist than it did twenty-five years ago. The hearers have become more demanding. They have been to a certain degree hardened by the events of the times. In many places there is a shocking frivolity, so that if the Lord through the Holy Spirit does not do all that we ask, no human heart will allow itself to be moved to accept Him. "My spirit shall not always strive with man," said the Lord in the time of Noah, and the same conditions prevail today. (Matt. 24:37-39.)

How much prayer, patience, and work it costs today! How much wisdom from above is needed by the evangelist in order to be able to lead one soul to the Lord! Is it a lack on the part of our faith and zeal or that of our hearers, that they surrender to the Lord so hesitatingly and singly? Each of us must search himself, and if he dares not say, "We have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10) and who could say this of his own efforts? then the Word of the Lord, through which He so sharply reveals our time, will comfort him: "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8.

A Backward Glance

Has not the Lord promised a special help for this time through the Holy Spirit? Has He not given His servants the pattern and the skill to pull with united strength on the evangelistic net that has been cast out? Has He not promised to send a hunger, not for bread, and a thirst, not for water, but for the hearing of the Word of the Lord? (Amos 8:11.) We literally experienced the latter some time ago when the president of the Southern European Division brought about a greater effort for the evangelization of Basel. After well-pre pared publicity the hall was filled with about 1,700 persons. The whole church joyfully took part in this work. This was made possible only through good cooperation by pastor, church elders, church board, the evangelist, and his assistants. The cooperation of a fine group of workers was blessed by the Lord with a good harvest of souls.

Outlook on Evangelism

At this writing an evangelistic campaign is under way in Biel, and when these lines are read the third group of believers there will have been baptized. It goes without saying that first of all we need help from on high. Above all things, in order that the work may succeed, there must be a genuine fellowship without the slightest trace of envy or jealousy, and in hearts as well as on lips the petition to God: "Lord, let me feel joy in the success of my fellow workers." Let us not look enviously at the greater number of souls the Lord gives to a fellow worker, for, as is suggested in the Spirit of prophecy, souls are a gift of grace from God.

Aids for Preaching Prophecy

To be able to reach every class the educated and the simple the evangelist is helped by using suitable visual aids. A special device I have found useful is the giant collapsible globe shown in the illustrations. It has a diameter of 160 centimeters [about 63 inches]. This size was chosen in order to. make it suitable for use in larger halls. The continents of North and South America and Australia are mounted on rails and can be removed. The globe itself comes apart in two halves, in order that it may be carried through an ordinary doorway, and also in order to make it possible to explain the scientific facts concerning the inside of the earth. With this globe the following texts can be graphically explained: "Every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Rev. 6:14. "And the earth helped the woman." Rev. 12:16.

The globe is mounted on ball bearings. When it is opened one can see graphically depicted the increase of heat toward the center of the earth. (See illustration.) This varies according to place, but is approximately one degree Centigrade for thirty meters of depth [about 98 feet]. A gigantic thermometer helps the people to visualize this. Even for church members this type of representation is a great blessing. Statements in Great Controversy and Ear/)? Writings appear in such wonderful light that even scientists are impressed with the re liability of these testimonies. For example, that statement in Early Writings which says:

"It was at midnight that God chose to deliver His people. As the wicked were mocking around them, suddenly the sun appeared, shining in his strength, and the moon stood still. . . . The sea boiled like a pot, and cast out stones upon the land. . . . The earth trembled before Him, the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Pages 285-287.

Similar statements can be found in the Bible and the inspired counsels. When the Holy Spirit is present skeptics are simply overwhelmed with the glory of the plan of salvation. Then when one emphasizes that all this and much else was prophesied, also that the continents of North and South America were discovered at the right time, in order that God's persecuted ones might find places of refuge (Rev. 12:6), it helps them to see the over-all plan of God. It also becomes clear that God reveals Himself in His natural laws as He does in His moral laws, and that He has ordained every de tail in His great plan of salvation. The evangelist, as His messenger, is called to make the message "plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." Hab. 2:2.

Effective Evangelism

L. SCHNEEBAUER: President, Austrian Union Conference

There is nothing so stable as change." The JL author of this sentence, taken from a newspaper article, had in mind intellectual change. The statement accurately characterizes the present-day situation.

Yet it is an encouraging fact that the cares and difficulties of our day make people more ready to listen to God's message. This is confirmed by the well-attended meetings in many places. One gets the impression that in countries where religious liberty prevails, the prospects for the proclamation of the last message are today more favorable than they have ever been, and that in most cases all that is needed for well-attended meetings is a suitable place and a capable speaker. And it usually turns out that the right man is able to find the right place.

The question under consideration here is what conditions the evangelist must meet in preaching the gospel to several hundred people, so that the listeners will continue to come, in order that the evangelistic campaign may cli max with a good harvest of souls.

In addition to the manifestly necessary knowledge of God's Word and personal Christian experience, the evangelist must possess the talent of interpreting God's message for today in free- flowing and vivid speech.

When one considers how far this generation has become estranged from the life which is in God, and from God's Word, and how as never before it is divided intellectually and politically, one can easily understand that to make God's message comprehensible to our contemporaries is a difficult task indeed.

Three Essentials of Speaker's Message

Three indispensable characteristics of evangelism may be mentioned here: The message must first of all be timely, up to date; it must be given in a vigorous and convincing manner; and its presentation must be well organized and purposeful.

Timeliness demands first of all a good understanding of the time and of mankind. The evangelist must be on the lookout for anything that may contribute to the desired end. If current events are treated in the lecture, then he must be thoroughly familiar with them. In order to keep his presentation up to date and striking, the evangelist must be diligent in collecting and filing reliable quotations.

Only a vigorous and powerfully convincing discourse will take hold of the hearers and in duce them to come again.

While mastery of the language is naturally a prime requisite for a lively delivery, mastery of the subject matter is just as essential. This will be made easier by an orderly and logical arrangement of the material. It should be done in such a way that one thought will lead to the next, and the whole to the desired conclusion. By this purposeful development the train of thought will be led inevitably to the climax of the lecture.

Such an organization of subject matter also helps to avoid the danger of verbosity, which goes hand in hand with an even greater danger long-windedness. Lectures that are too long have never produced good results, but they are particularly unwelcome today. A good preparation and mental discipline will eliminate these dangers.

The Power of the Spirit

Thus by untiring labor the evangelistic worker schools himself to an ever greater degree of proficiency; and such men, the Spirit of prophecy tells us, the work needs. Yet, vital as this proficiency is to successful evangelism, it is nevertheless clear that in itself it cannot uproot a single sin from the heart of the listener. Of highest importance, therefore, is the presence of the Holy Spirit, for He alone can bring about true repentance and create a new heart.

Hence we are led to the ultimate goal of evangelism: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Thus Jesus Christ, the crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour, will become the subject and aim of our message, which will then not only be timely, vigorous, and convincing but also achieve its purpose in the evangelistic sense. Evangelism carried on in this way will not fail of success as long as the gospel is proclaimed. In Psalms 68:11 we read, "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it."

May our Lord and Master raise up in our day a great company of evangelists, and also Bible instructors who are prepared to work in close cooperation with them, in that even more important soul-winning work—giving Bible studies in the homes of the people.

When revival and evangelism go hand in hand then great things will be accomplished.

 


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December 1951

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