For this special issue of THE MINISTRY, which honors twenty-five years of continuous broadcasting by H. M. S. Richards, your editors have asked two conference presidents, two conference home missionary secretaries, and several pastors to tell of the value of Voice of Prophecy interests sent to them. A careful reading of these letters will show that the names sent out by the Voice of Prophecy Bible correspondence schools, or any other of our Bible schools, when faithfully followed up, can be a wonderful help to the local pastor in his soul-winning endeavors.
M. E. Loewen, president of the Ohio Conference says:
Contacting Voice of Prophecy Interests Increases Baptisms
"As the tempo quickens in the march toward the Advent of our Lord, it is amazing to contemplate all the manifold means God has developed to finish the work. And of these means, perhaps none has made a greater impression in the last twenty-five years than has the work of the Voice of Prophecy.
"The radio broadcasts have thrilled millions, the messages have stirred hearts, and the music has moved men and women toward heaven. This is as it should be. But it is not enough. The Bible correspondence school has channeled all these interests into a study of last-day truths.
"The spirit of joy and progress is evident wherever we see a church that is active in promoting the Voice of Prophecy broadcast and following up the interests of the correspondence school. The pastors who faithfully nurture these students find their churches becoming more active, more alive. They are getting baptisms through the Voice of Prophecy in addition to those from their own soul-winning program. These are the pastors who are building strong churches. The consecrated pastor does not dare neglect Voice of Prophecy interests requesting guidance.
"At a recent baptism the question was asked, 'What aroused your interest in this message?' A father and his three sons who were baptized that day replied that it was the Voice of Prophecy. It is not unusual at any baptism to have a goodly number specify the Voice of Prophecy as their original contact with the truth. These converts are enthusiastic, wholehearted Seventh-day Adventists, anxious to do missionary work for their friends and neighbors.
"God in His wisdom has given us this wonderful means of awakening interest. He has given richly of His Spirit to water the seed sown. As we thank Him for this blessing, may we determine to be more faithful in cooperating with this soul-winning agency."
H. C. Klement, president of the Missouri Conference, declares:
People Accept the Message
"I am happy for this opportunity of expressing real appreciation for the work of the Voice of Prophecy.
"I know from firsthand experience that as we faithfully follow up the names sent from the Voice of Prophecy Bible school, we get results, and people accept the message. I believe that as each pastor contacts the interested persons whose names are sent to him, he will find that baptisms will greatly increase. People become well indoctrinated in the message as a result of studying by correspondence.
"May the Lord bless this agency that is used for the advancing of the work of God in the earth."
A. R. Mazat, home missionary secretary in the Texico Conference, states:
A Wonderful Evangelistic Tool
"I have the utmost confidence and appreciation for the soul-saving work being carried on by the Voice of Prophecy. While serving as director of the Bible school in the Middle East Division, I was impressed over and over again with the wonderful service your school offers that field. Whenever a person from the Middle East wrote to California for Bible lessons, someone in that office immediately sent that name and address back to the Lebanon office. That type of service always warmed my heart. I could see that there was no desire to establish a record, but an eagerness to see souls saved in God's kingdom.
"While serving in the Middle East Division we observed that the best way, and the only way at that time, of reaching the hearts of the Mohammedan people was through the printed Bible lessons. These lessons did not argue with the people. The lessons presented the truth positively. They prepared the hearts and minds of the students for baptism. We learned, however, that the lessons alone were not sufficient. It took some personal visitation along with the Bible lessons in order to bind off the interest. Experience taught us that students who had completed the Bible course were good prospective candidates for baptism.
"I believe that the Voice of Prophecy is a wonderful evangelistic tool in God's vineyard. It prepares the minds and hearts of the students to receive Christ as their personal Saviour. I further believe that district leaders and local pastors would greatly increase their baptisms per year if they would follow up and bind off the interests created by the Voice of Prophecy.
"We have greatly appreciated the privilege of supporting and boosting the Voice of Prophecy program. We are thankful for what it has accomplished. We feel, however, that the best lies just ahead of us.
"May the good Master continue to bless the consecrated efforts of the Voice of Prophecy as it goes forward in faith."
E. E. Hagen, home missionary secretary of the Kansas Conference, addresses his message directly to the Voice of Prophecy.
"Dear Voice of Prophecy Family:
"We are deeply grateful for the Voice of Prophecy radio evangelism in Kansas. During 1954 41 of our 192 baptisms came as a direct result of our Voice of Prophecy contacts. This means that 21.3 per cent of our baptisms came as a result of Elder Richards' preaching over the air, and the Bible school promotion. We are anxious to see more stations carrying the Voice of Prophecy in Kansas. We want more students to enroll in the Voice of Prophecy lessons. We want more follow-up reports from the Voice of Prophecy prospect department, for we know that all this means more baptisms. Souls for God's kingdom are what we want. Every prospect received by us is looked upon as a possible baptismal candidate."
Joseph Dobias, pastor in the West Pennsylvania Conference, expresses his appreciation in the following words:
Converts Especially Eager to Work for Others
"As a minister I appreciate more than words can tell the wonderful help the Voice of Prophecy gives us. Most of the names of Bible students are excellent interests, and they should be faithfully and immediately followed up after being received. This is where we frequently fail. Many times we are burdened with other work and are unable to visit; and the individual, when visited later, has perhaps lost interest or joined some other church.
"In the last year and a half I have received about fifteen names of Voice of Prophecy students through our conference office. Six were baptized; five more, already faithful Sabbath-keepers and tithepayers, are in the baptismal class planning for baptism within the next two months. These converts are zealous witnesses of God's truth and are especially eager to work for the salvation of others."
W. S. Jesske, field representative of the Southern Union's School of Bible Prophecy, also addresses his message to the Voice of Prophecy family.
Road to Soul-winning Success
"Greetings and congratulations to you on this your twenty-fifth anniversary of radio work. I for one thank God for the wonderful results accomplished through your faithful service in this span of time on the air. I'm sure that only eternity will reveal the ultimate harvest for the kingdom of God.
"I feel that my personal ministry, as well as the churches and conferences for which I have labored, has been greatly benefited by the Voice of Prophecy broadcasts, and particularly by a careful following up of all names sent to the field. It was the Voice of Prophecy interests that started me on the road to soul-winning success.
"A few years ago I was asked by my conference committee to take charge of a certain district. I was to be in Europe for three months before taking over. Before I left I pleaded with the members of this new district to do their best in enrolling people in the Voice of Prophecy Bible course. Having great faith in this course, I told them that if they would be faithful in gathering students, I was sure the Lord would bless us with a goodly harvest of souls.
"When I moved into that district I held spearhead meetings throughout the next nine months. In addition to the speaking, I conducted the music and followed up all interests, with no help from the conference. Special invitations were sent to the Bible correspondence students. New interests, developed by the meetings, were enrolled as soon as possible. Those who did not have opportunity to attend many of the meetings became interested in the message through having been enrolled in our Bible courses. With the help of God, we added to our fellowship seventy new members. I continued this procedure thereafter with like results.
"Over 50 percent of my converts have been Bible correspondence students, most of them from the Voice of Prophecy. I never overlook a Bible-school lead, nor will I let them wait long. When an individual has studied the first twenty lessons in the quietness of his home, seed has been planted that warrants attention. These lessons enter and prepare hearts that otherwise could never be entered. Every correspondence student is a potential candidate for baptism. To overlook such is like the farmer who plants a field of wheat, then at harvest-time goes on vacation. The results are obvious."
H. Hampton White, pastor in the South Dakota Conference, states:
Preparing the Hearts of the People
"I appreciate immensely the work of our Voice of Prophecy and other Bible correspondence schools in securing interests and preparing the hearts of people for the full acceptance of the truth and entrance into the church.
"Many times these interests have been difficult to reach because of distances, but the effort has been well repaid in the spiritual satisfaction of seeing another light catch fire and burn brightly in unentered territory.
"I have always tried to follow the interests at the time the requests came through, for I have found that sometimes when it was impossible to go immediately, the propitious moment had passed, and either their interest had cooled or the enemy had gotten there first with false doctrines.
"It is usually necessary to hold a series of studies with these new interests, reviewing the fundamentals and focusing the new truths upon the Seventh-day Adventist Church as being the remnant church and the divinely foretold and ordained movement of Revelation 14:6-12. Another reason that studies in the home are imperative is that often only one member of the family has been studying. By utilizing this interest it is possible to hold studies that will include the other members of the family in the study group."
F. W. Wernick, pastor in the East Pennsylvania Conference, writes:
No Better Method for Finding Open Doors
"The Voice of Prophecy program can be heard in Philadelphia twice each Sunday over prominent stations. This excellent coverage gives the Voice of Prophecy a large listening audience here.
"In this heavily populated area it is most difficult to find open doors, but the Voice of Prophecy, with its splendid Bible course, has led us to many interested people. We have endeavored to follow up every name that we have received, and most of them have led us to those with whom we could work. Having these interests already created saves much time for the personal worker. In fact, we are relying almost entirely upon the Bible courses to help us find interested people. We have found no better method of finding open doors to the gospel.
"In addition to the Voice of Prophecy Bible course, we also have the Faith for Today and the Twentieth Century Bible courses; and the interrelationship of these three mediums is interesting. Often we have people who take two of these courses and I think of one man who has taken all three—which shows that these courses bolster one another. We have found the Faith course of the Voice of Prophecy to awaken much enthusiasm, even after the person has taken one of the other courses, and we suggest that those who are completing other courses take the Faith course as well.
"We have had the privilege of baptizing a number of people who have taken the Voice of Prophecy course, and most of our young people who join the church have taken the junior course. We would be greatly handicapped without this program, and trust we shall always have its services."
Marcus E. Payne, pastor in the Kansas Conference, writes his warm appreciation of the Voice of Prophecy group:
Reaches Public in a Way That Cannot Be Duplicated
"I am happy to express my appreciation for the wonderful way the Voice of Prophecy has helped me in my ministry. H. M. S. Richards and the radio group have been my 'associate pastor' for a nurner of years.
"In every pastorate to which I have been assigned I have found that Elder Richards has visited in more of the homes, given more Bible studies, preached more sermons, written more letters to the people, and reached more hearts through radio than any other Seventh-day Adventist minister. He is known in more homes within these pastorates than I. He reaches the public in a way that no evangelist or pastor can duplicate.
"It is little wonder, then, that when I receive a letter from the Bible correspondence school saying that someone has completed the Bible lessons and would like to have a representative call, I make the visit as soon as possible. The interests are usually good ones, for they are carefully screened in the office before they are sent on to the field. The initial call, however, is not enough. When engaging in evangelistic services we call on each interest as often as once a week, until they accept or reject the truth. To get the maximum results from our Voice of Prophecy interests, we must treat them in exactly the same manner. We must first show ourselves friendly, extend an invitation to visit church, answer their many questions, and, wherever possible, arrange for regular Bible studies in the home. Pastors who are following this type of program are getting results.
"At times I have found that as many as one third of my baptized converts have resulted from carefully following up Bible correspondence school interests.
"On a recent itinerary the radio group journeyed far out of their way to bring an evening program to us in the little town of Hemingford, Nebraska (population approximately 800). Other than personal invitations, the only advance advertising of the meeting in the high school auditorium was a short newspaper article on page one in the town's only weekly newspaper. In spite of three competing programs in other churches, by civic groups, and in the town theater, five hundred people assembled in that auditorium to listen to the quartet and the inspiring message by Elder Richards. It was the largest single crowd ever gathered to that date in that auditorium. When the appeal was made for those interested in our great truths to enroll in the Bible correspondence school, fifty-seven responded. Think of the tremendous popularity enjoyed by the Voice of Prophecy in that one little town; then think of the mighty influence that is exerted for God throughout the world by this program."
James R. Hardin, pastor in the Southern California Conference, suggests an excellent follow-up program:
Prophecy Class in the Sabbath School
"San Pedro is a port town representing many different nationalities. It is also the largest Catholic parish west of the Mississippi. This presents a number of problems in soul winning; therefore an interest slip from the Voice is received with welcome. Usually it is a good interest.
"To aid in the follow-up work, a project was started in our church about five months ago that seems to be proving very satisfactory. On Sabbath mornings during the lesson study period, a prophecy class for non-Adventists is conducted. Several members of the class have been or are students of the Faith course. There are ten regular members in the class at present, and there have been as many as sixteen present. Besides the study group at the church, there are, in a nearby prison, twenty-eight inmates enrolled in the Faith course. Because of this interest in the Voice of Prophecy, I was recently given an opportunity to present an evening devotional service for all the Protestant inmates.
"When a Voice of Prophecy interest comes to me I make a visit as soon as possible. Next, I invite him to visit the prophecy class where the Faith lessons are studied as a group. This way there is not the feeling of being forced into some church. Five people have been baptized to date, and there are a number in the class who no doubt will take their stand within a few months.
"We like this method of soul winning so much that eighteen thousand Faith enrollment cards are being bulk-mailed to the homes in San Pedro. In this way we hope to find more honest hearts."