The Message of the Evangelist
H. D. WILSON: Native Evangelist, Sierra Leone Mission, West Africa
[EDITORIAL NOTE.—This article represents a talk given at an evangelistic institute in West Africa. In submitting this article to THE MINISTRY, Edgar Keslake, superintendent of the Sierra Leone Mission, speaking of the author, wrote: "Pastor Wilson is our oldest native ordained minister in Sierra Leone. I never tire of listening to his messages as opportunity affords."—B. G.]
To us as evangelists God has entrusted the good news of salvation which is summarized in the greatest of all gospel texts, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
If we analyze this phase of our blessed message, this good news of salvation, we shall see that it is primarily the story of the Word made flesh. John 1:14. Christ the eternal Son of God took up His abode with the fallen race to become our Saviour and our Lord. This greatest of all events in history, the incarnation, is the center of the ages; it is the historical back ground of our message.
The message we bear is also the story of the atoning work of Christ—His sacrificial death, His glorious resurrection, and His priestly ministration on the sinner's behalf in the sanctuary above. Here we present Christ to men as a personal Saviour, the only hope of eternal salvation. This is perhaps the most important phase of our message.
The gospel of Jesus has also a universal aspect. The claims of Christ are universal. He came to save every man in every family, in every tribe, in every race, in every nation. Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Toward the close of His earthly ministry our Lord made three significant statements that we as His ministers must ever bear in mind. He said: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." "Christ for the world," therefore, must be our burden, our ambition, and our goal.
The Function of the Message
Our duty as messengers of God is not to threaten men and women with hell and destruction. Ours is the message of love, of mercy, and of reconciliation. To us has been entrusted the message of pardon to men and women under sentence of eternal death. Brethren, let us always pray for divine wisdom and guidance in the presentation of this solemn message.
We are to plead with men to exercise faith in God as the only condition of salvation. Through our ministry men must be made to believe that loyalty to God and obedience to His law must be the rule of life and conduct, that they must cooperate with God in working out their own salvation. The evangelist goes out in love because he bears the message of love from the God who Himself is love. In the book Evangelism, page 185, we read:
"Christ crucified, Christrisen, Christ ascended into the heavens, Christ coming again, should so soften, gladden, and fill the mind of the minister that he will present these truths to the people in love and deep earnestness."
The gospel messenger goes out in faith. He must have faith in God. He must never lose heart; he must never become discouraged. Here is a cheering statement from the Spirit of prophecy:
"The Lord never forsakes His faithful messengers: He sends to their aid heavenly agencies and accompanies their labors with the power of the Holy Spirit to convince and to convert. All heaven will endorse your appeals."—Ibid., p. 38.
We must also have faith in the ultimate triumph of our message. In the same book, page 20, the messenger of the Lord says:
"Truth, passing by those who despise and reject it, will triumph. Although at times apparently re tarded, its progress has never been checked. When the message of God meets with opposition, He gives it additional force, that it may exert greater influence. Endowed with divine energy, it will cut its way through the strongest barriers, and triumph over every obstacle."
As ambassadors of God it is essential that we have faith in those to whom we are sent. None is so low and degraded but that the Holy Spirit, if given a chance, can cleanse and purify him and make him a new creature in Christ Jesus. The Advent messenger knows nothing of hope less cases. Concerning Christ our divine Master Mrs. White says:
"In every human being, however fallen, He be held a son of God, one who might be restored to the privilege of His divine relationship."—Ibid., p. 55.
A wholehearted belief in the gospel as the power of God unto salvation is the driving force behind all missionary endeavor, all self- sacrificing labor for the redemption of mankind.
The Sphere of the Message
The gospel message covers three main facts— sin, righteousness, judgment. It deals with the problem of sin, presents the possibility of righteousness by faith, and warns of the certainty of a coming judgment. (John 16:8-10.) Sin is revealed as the willful disobedience to the will of the Creator as set forth in His holy law. Man, the sinner, must die, for the wages of sin is death. But the good news of salvation reveals and exalts Christ as the perfect sacrifice for sin, the only Saviour of the world.
Through the atoning work of Christ man receives righteousness by faith, whereby he is able through Christ to render willing obedience to the will of God.
The gospel also reveals the solemn fact that though He is gracious and merciful, yet God is judge, and the hour of His judgment is come. Sin and Satan will eventually be rooted up and destroyed, and Christ will reign triumphant as King of kings and Lord of lords. "Prepare to meet thy God" is the call of the hour, the burden of our message.
The Character of the Gospel Message
The message we bear to the world is called the "glorious gospel." It is glorious in the revelation it brings. It sets forth Christ as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. It is also glorious in its power—power over evil spirits and the medicine man, over every evil habit and degrading custom. We can all testify to this wonderful power. God has entrusted to us this power to break down the walls of prejudice, dispel the darkness of ignorance and superstition. How often have we not entered into the very stronghold of Satan and delivered men and women from the bondage of sin! Yes, brethren, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the good news of power, the power of God unto salvation to everyone who will believe.
Our message is the only good news—the only way of salvation from sin and destruction. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. The message also divides men and women into two groups—those who believe unto salvation and those who reject unto eternal damnation. It is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. We hold the destiny of souls in our hands. What a solemn responsibility is ours!
The Duration of the Message
The time we have for the proclamation of this message and the finishing of God's work on the earth is very short indeed. Soon the door of mercy will forever close, and men will have no more an Advocate with the Father. We must bring them the good news of salvation ere it is too late. Time is so dreadfully short! We must not, we dare not, tarry by the way.
"We have no time to lose. . . . The coming of the Lord is nearer than when we first believed. The great controversy is nearing its close. . . . We hear the footsteps of an approaching God, as He comes to punish the world for its iniquity. We are to pre pare the way for Him by acting our part in getting a people ready for that great day."—Ibid., pp. 218, 219.
"I saw One standing on a high platform with arms extended. He turned and pointed in every direction, saying, 'A world perishing in ignorance of God's holy law, and Seventh-day Adventists are asleep.' "—Ibid., p. 32.
"The message for this time is positive, simple, and of the deepest importance. We must act like men and women who believe it. Waiting, watching, working, praying, warning the world—this is our work."—Ibid., p. 219.
May God help us to do it faithfully.
Spearhead Evangelism in Canada
L. R. ELLISON: Licensed Minister, Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference
The sparsely populated country, the great distances of the Canadian prairies, the few churches — sometimes hundreds of miles apart — the fact that 40 per cent of our membership is isolated, and the scarcity of workers in the field make the task of evangelizing the masses seem almost impossible. The mailing program of the Bible correspondence school has reached nearly all the homes in this conference, and there are many folks who would be among us if we could only make some personal contact with them. Pondering these difficulties gave birth to the spearhead programs that were successfully conducted for more than ten weeks in the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference.
The evangelistic team consisted of a program director, a song director, and a pianist. An additional person who is acquainted with the program and who supervises the ushering and its related duties is recommended. In one community a colporteur canvassed after the first night's program and sold to almost 100 per cent of the contacts he made. The additional teammate could profitably be a colporteur. Of course he would need a certain amount of remuneration for his help, for it would be difficult for him to put in full canvassing time.
Planning the Campaign
To the public the idea of a program seems to have more desirable appeal than has that of a meeting. With this in mind the campaign was planned to provide attraction and entertainment while at the same time evangelizing the listeners. Every attempt was made to make this the biggest thing the townsmen had seen in a long while.
In each town visited there were two programs run on consecutive nights. The evangelistic team operated seven nights a week when possible. Several weeks before the campaign was begun the most suitable hall in each place was arranged for, and the newspaper editors visited. Then two weeks before each program, posters were mailed to some of our church members, who placed them in conspicuous places. Also handbills were sent to the post office for distribution to every resident. Thus, as long as the campaign was in operation, there was a daily round of advertising materials to care for.
For the approach the temperance film America's Beloved Troubadour was used, and was introduced as a film presenting a problem. After a briefing on Adventist temperance work, the audience was told that the problem would be discussed the next night. Another film was shown on the first night, entitled Witch bound Africa. This created a favorable attitude toward Adventist missions.
We prefaced our program the second night with this statement: "Last night a problem was unveiled. No matter what our perplexity, the Bible has the answer. In the first picture tonight you will see the response of God to the world's ills." Then was shown the film, "The Birth of a New World," which created a favorable atmosphere for introducing the Bible correspondence course.
At this juncture enrollments were received. Then followed the fourth and final film, Open Doors in the Orient. On both nights the audience was informed that the second films were Seventh-day Adventist mission films.
Around these features there was a song service each evening, flannelgraph pictures, vocal music, the handing out of literature, offering appeals, the signing of temperance cards, and other such items.
Response of Audience
In ten weeks we visited nine villages, nine towns, and three cities. In two of the cities we secured radio time, which was a real boost Jo our attendance.
In nearly every place halls were filled to capacity, and well over 50 per cent of the time there were not enough seats to accommodate the crowds. In a few places there was not standing room. The total attendance was 10,000, an average of 250 for each program. It must be kept in mind that these programs were designed for small towns and rural communities where halls are small and people few. It was near the close of the campaign that we ventured into the cities and were equally well received.
The expenses of even a small team's moving around could become costly, but in this venture the cost of the entire project was only twenty- five hundred dollars, half of which was received in offerings. Then consider that the salary of the pianist is included, as well as the hotel, meals, and travel expense for the group. With proper organization another time this could be made a self-supporting spearhead program.
At least twenty-five interested people were quickly located, some of whom have now been baptized; over one thousand were enrolled in the Bible correspondence course; an immeasurable amount of good will was created toward Seventh-day Adventists; prejudices were broken down and Ingathering has been made easier. Our own people are now requesting small projectors to use in following up the interests with personal studies, and our district leaders are binding off the interests.
Strong leadership was given to this spearhead program by Wilbur Rick, former home missionary secretary for the conference, who is now under appointment to serve as president of the East Pakistan Mission in the Southern Asia Di vision.
For any who care to have further information, complete details are available from the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference, 1004 Victoria Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
MELVIN G. HICKMAN: Pastor-Evangelist, Wisconsin Conference
During the past two years, while rotating with a number of evangelistic campaigns around the State, I observed that our people consistently responded but little to repeated appeals for names and information about their friends, relatives, and business contacts. At best much of the response would come too late for effective contacts.
To remedy this situation, I mimeographed and handed to the people evangelistic contact forms, with spaces provided right on the sheet for the information desired. The response of the people was multiplied many times over, and a large list of names with accompanying information of much value was received.
Following are the items included on the evangelistic contact form.
Information for Evangelistic Contacts
Approximate Age: ___________
Give directions on how to find the residence. Be detailed if in country. If a family, give number of children at home and their ages.
Is this person a ____ relative, ____friend, ____casual acquaintance, ____ or business contact? (Check)
Religious Affiliation: _____________________________________
Has the individual ever been an S.D.A.? ____
How long ago? ____________
for how many years? ________
Has Adventist relatives? ____________
How much does the individual know about the truth? ___________________________________________________________________
Through what sources and by what means? ____________
What degree of prejudice exists? _____________________________
PLEASE GIVE ALL THE ADDED INFORMATION POSSIBLE THAT WILL HELP IN CONTACTING THESE PEOPLE EFFECTIVELY.
Name of One Informing __________________________________
Telephone Number ___________________
[NOTE.—Also see page 26 of the August, 1951, MINISTRY for another form of "Interest Information Card."—EDITORS.]