A suburb of Belem, Para, in North Brazil has become an evangelistic laboratory recently, and thus far the experiment is successful. The district pastor, Walkyrio Sousa de Lima, attended the Seminary Extension Course in Montevideo, conducted by F. H. Yost, L. E. Froom, and R. Allan Anderson in 1949. While there he learned "a more excellent way" to do public evangelism. He in turn transmitted this information to a local elder in one of our churches in Belem, Brother Milton Sousa de Purification.
First of all, Brother Milton made two maps of the territory that was to be worked around the church. One map is on the wall of the church and the other is in his pocket at all times. From a church membership of less than two hundred he recruited eighty house-to-house workers to go out in pairs on Sabbath afternoons and Sundays. These workers were carefully trained for weeks in what they were to do and how it was to be done. Discussions of any kind are absolutely forbidden. Four "inspectors" with maps and lists go from street to street to see that the work is properly done and to give aid or counsel where needed.
The workers offer to study a set of twenty printed Bible lessons with the people, leaving them a copy of the lesson of the day each week. The response was amazing. At the end of seven weeks the number of families accepting these -studies had not diminished, but rather had grown to 284! A distress call was transmitted to another church in Belem, and they sent over twelve workers.
Recently Brother Milton, who has never studied in a school of any kind, opened a series of meetings in the church. The public was not invited. Only these interested and friendly people were asked to come. The full seating capacity of the church is only 237, so our own people were asked to remain outside and listen through the windows and doors. About a hundred people not of our faith also stood outside, for the seats were all occupied early, and many stood up inside. The only Adventist inside was the speaker, and the Lord blessed him with a moving message on the pre-existence of Christ as Creator. Tuesday and Thursday nights this same situation has continued. An hour before the meeting is to begin our people crowd into the schoolroom behind the church for an ear nest prayer meeting. They know whom they are praying for, and have reason to expect that these people will accept the message. Brother Milton told me that there were so many well- dressed people there the opening night that he was almost struck with stage fright for a minute or two, but this soon passed, and he spoke with power and convicting logic.
A number of lives and homes had already been transformed before the meetings ever began. Alcoholics have been reclaimed. People who are receiving studies give new names and addresses of relatives and friends each week who also want lessons. The leaven is working, and the members are happy.
About the second week of the house-to-house visitation Brother Milton received a letter from the local priest informing him that this was his territory and to please stop this heretical proselytizing. A Protestant sent him a letter of a similar tone, but he has gone forward with his work, and the results are most encouraging.
In years past we have begun the meetings with a song service and public prayer. These exercises always produce the same effect on Roman Catholics. It is as if we went to visit their church and were asked, with insistence, please to kneel down before an image or at least light a candle. It is unlikely that we would return. So our brethren are endeavoring to carry out the admonition of the apostle to be come all things to all men, if by any means we might win some.
The Spirit of prophecy says that soul winning is a science. There we also find the formula and procedure. Brethren, do you suppose the Lord will forgive our past blundering mistakes? By doing it the correct way we can just about know what the outcome of our effort will be before we ever start. We are feeling a "going in the tops of the mulberry trees" in North Brazil, and it thrills our souls.