THIRTY-ONE young men who are being prepared for the ministry had the privilege of attending the Field School of Evangelism that was conducted in Rockford, Illinois, June 5 to July 9, 1960. Twenty-one of these students were attending the Theological Seminary of Andrews University, and ten were attending Emmanuel Missionary College.
Elder Bruce Johnston, of the college, and Elder E. C. Banks, of the University, directed the campaign and taught the classes. The college students received six hours of college credit while the Seminary students received five—three hours in evangelistic procedures and two hours in personal evangelism. Elder L. J. Marsa, pastor of the Rockford church, and the 250 members gave loyal and helpful support throughout the campaign.
There were so many blessings and benefits derived from this campaign that it is difficult to list them all and to evaluate their importance. The most important, of course, is the winning of souls to the kingdom of God. During the Rockford campaign eighty people made decisions to accept Christ as their Saviour and to prepare for baptism. There were approximately forty new members baptized into the church during the campaign, and as a result of a good follow-up program, which is now in operation, many more will be baptized.
Perhaps the second most important contribution this type of campaign makes to the church is the inspiration and training in front-line evangelism the ministerial students receive. At a time like this, when the difficulties and discouragements found in the work of soul winning are increasing with staggering magnitude, and when it is possible for ministers in this message to keep themselves satisfiedly occupied in doing many other good things, it is of vital importance to the church to teach young men preparing for the ministry the techniques of leading people to Christ and of sharing with them the heavenly joy found only in this phase of a minister's work. The thirty-one students who shared in the soul-winning thrills at Rockford will never for get their experience, and it is sincerely hoped that they will continue to seek out the lost and lead them to Christ.
A good evangelistic campaign always brings renewed life and consecration to the members of the church, but when there is a field school with a large group of dedicated young men connected with it, the church receives even greater blessings and happiness. The presence of these young people brings new life into all the services, and even after the campaign is over, the church members continue to follow the progress and success of the students throughout their years of service.
A fourth benefit may also be mentioned that by no means should be considered of least importance. This is what the field school of evangelism does for the teachers who lead out in it. It seems to keep them a little nearer the Lord than other phases of their service, and it continually reminds them that they need to depend upon Him for success. It brings to them a fresh interest in and love for lost humanity and renews their zeal to seek out men and women and lead them to the Saviour. It focuses in their minds again the things that are of vital importance in the Advent message and leads them to a rededication of their lives to the task of finishing the work God has given to His people at this time.
As the Seminary faculty plans for the training of ministers, it is a definite part of the plan to operate one or more field schools of evangelism each summer. It is a part of the plan to invite some of our most successful evangelists to help lead out in this phase of the Seminary program.