At EMC we are endeavoring to take the students out into the field to supplement class instruction with participation in practical soul-winning activities. The enthusiastic response to this plan is almost overwhelming. The ministerial students hunger for an opportunity to actually witness and participate in evangelistic meetings.
A full year of practical evangelism has just closed. Beginning July 5, 1958, with the opening of a field school in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it closed July 4, 1959, with a baptism that marked the close of the current summer's field school in Allegan, Michigan. Between these two campaigns and during the school term two other public efforts were conducted—a church campaign in Elkhart, Indiana, in the fall, and an auditorium campaign in Berrien Springs, Michigan, this spring. More than eighty baptisms resulted from these four three-week campaigns.
For one to have had a part in leading a soul to Christ is an unforgettable thrill that sharpens the vision and increases the desire to become a full-time soul winner for God. This is a primary value of the field training. To see a drunkard unshackled, to witness the conversion of an ex-convict, to welcome a backslider into the fold of safety, to see tears of joy overwhelm a young mother as her once unbelieving husband walks forward to register his decision for Christ, to view the unfolding of a life to Christ as the result of the entrance of the light of truth, to watch the miracle of the new birth again and again in people young and old from every walk of life, make indelible impressions on the hearts as well as the minds of young ministers in the making. Prayer and the power of God can no longer be dry theory to them; they become living realities. Methods and techniques form an im¬portant part of the instruction, but without the Holy Spirit's work on human hearts, no lasting good can be accomplished.
The plan we follow for instructing the boys and conducting the campaigns is very simple. We studiously avoid any elaborate features that would tend to complicate the program and discourage the young men from trying public evangelism for themselves. Simple methods, utter dependence upon God through prayer, followed by much hard personal labor, characterize the endeavor. This may be illustrated in this summer's field school.
The students with their instructor were in the field together for five weeks. I lived with my family in a rented house trailer. The students, with the exception of one, lived in the home of one of our consecrated physicians. Classes were conducted three hours each morning for two weeks. Afternoons and evenings the first week were spent in preparing the auditorium and visiting interested ones whose names had come to us through the Voice of Prophecy, These Times, and Faith for Today. The Sunday night of the second week marked the opening of a city-wide series of public meetings. These continued every night for three weeks. Each student was assigned an important responsibility—publicity, platform, ushering, visitation, secretarial, music, medical, et cetera. All visited intensively during the campaign in teams of two. Each had opportunity to make visits with the instructor so that he might learn both by observation and participation.
The practical training emphasis was on personal work: how to detect the degree of interest of the people, how to pray with them, how to urge them to come to the meetings, were some of the points empha-sized in these visits. During the last week of the public meetings and also during the week following, a special class was con-ducted to review the points of our faith with those who took their stand. Two in-spiring baptismal services were conducted in a beautiful lake, and a total of twenty-two were baptized.
A special feature each night, Monday through Thursday, was "Prescription for Better Living." This was a health talk given by a medically trained person. Dr. Wayne McFarland counseled with us in setting up this feature and was present on the opening night to present the first talk. Dr. E. B. Johnson, local CME graduate, carried on with the help of other doctors in the area, including two from the Health Center in Battle Creek. Chapters from the book Better Living, by Dr. McFarland served as a basis for most of the talks given. This feature was of special value in pre¬paring the way for the acceptance of our health message.
One unique aspect of our training pro-gram this summer was to team together a premedical student with a ministerial stu-dent. Under a scholarship arrangement and sponsored by a group of Michigan doctors, they attended the field school and then held a short campaign of their own, speaking on alternate nights. At this writing they have just completed their campaign at Hartford, Michigan. During the invitations for surrender a total of eight adults registered their decisions to unite with the church. You can imagine the thrill these two young men experienced to see results like these during the first calls they ever made. The premedical student had never preached a sermon before this summer. The attendance was outstanding, and the support of the church was exceptional. An excellent interest has been developed and is being followed up by the pastor.
Two other young men are conducting tent meetings in Knox, Indiana. Attendance has held up remarkably with a good number of non-Adventists present. On the first call for surrender, twelve decisions were registered. The interest is keen with the prospect of a good harvest.
This counsel from the messenger of the Lord is timely even in the mid-twentieth century:
Students cannot afford to wait till their education is considered complete, before using for the good of others that which they have received. Without this, however they may study, however much knowledge they may gain, their education will be incomplete.—Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p. 263.
We have found that this practical program of learning by doing brings in a beautiful missionary spirit that permeates the whole student body. It is our desire that this spirit may capture the entire campus and result in helping to hasten the day when Jesus shall come to take His loved ones to their heavenly home.
Since this report was written, the student campaign in Knox, Indiana, has closed. A Bible class is still in progress. To date there have been twenty decisions to unite with the church. Five have already been baptized.