ONE of the most interesting programs that it has been our privilege to work in has taken place in the Atlantic Union—a church revival in which a physician and a minister unite in bringing the message night by night. This has proved very effective in awakening our people to the wonderful privilege of living a life wholly dedicated to God.
Our theme has been "Saving the Whole Man," and it is definitely slanted to church members and backsliders.
The following steps were taken prior to the beginning of the series.
The church was organized into small prayer groups to pray for the forthcoming meetings. In one church the elders met every Sabbath morning for several months before the revival was to be held. They met to study and pray for the Lord's special blessing at the time of the meetings. A new experience came to these men as they were led into deep heart searching. The pastor and the head elder led out in these meetings.
Other groups were formed in the church, all of them praying for us and for themselves. We are certain that this preparation is a large factor in bringing souls to a decision during the actual revival services. It should not be neglected.
Our meetings begin on a Friday night and carry through an entire week, up to the next Sabbath inclusive, or possibly to Sunday.
From seven to seven-thirty each evening, Dr. Mc-Farland conducted a class on the Spirit of Prophecy and healthful living. This was limited to church members, and especially those who were to have an active part in the week's revival. They were encouraged to be on the alert for any backsliders who were present—to show an interest in them, and give them a real welcome. Also, we asked them to pray for us as we spoke.
Brethren, with twenty-five or thirty devoted church members sitting in the congregation praying for God to especially bless, you have an atmosphere you cannot obtain in any other way. These folks knew what testing truths we planned to present. They were cued in, you might say, to pray at the crucial moment in the talks that were to immediately follow. This group also saw many victories gained in their own lives.
Service of Song
The aforementioned members were released in time to take part in the song service. The power of song, prayer, and exhortation, and the direct approach to the problem of sin cannot be minimized when you are having a revival. In the area of music we had one of the best leaders, Elder Sunny Liu. Here again the deep consecration and dedication of Elder Liu were felt in the songs he chose and in the appropriate remarks he made as he endeavored to bring out the beauty of congregational singing. Nothing can compare to the beauty of voices raised in melody and praise to God. Music and dedicated singers—the best you can find—are essential in revivals.
The following topics were covered in the evening lectures:
For Your Physical Health—By J. Wayne McFarland, M.D.*
Friday—"Wonders of the Human Body"
Saturday—"Why Germs Like People"
Sunday—"What You Need Is a Tonic"
Monday—"Anyone Nervous at Your House?"
Tuesday—"Wake Up and Live"
Wednesday-—"The ABC of Vitamins—Garden or Drugstore?"
Thursday—"Food and Your Personality"
Friday—"Fear, Worry, and Resentment"
Saturday—"How to Help an Individual Overcome Smoking"
Sunday—"Hypnotism, Science, and Religion" For Your Spiritual Health—W. J. Hackett
Friday—"Has Christianity Failed?"
Saturday—"The Scripture Says the Members of Christ's Church Are to Be Saved. Do You Belong to That Church?"
Sunday—"Do Psychology and the Bible Agree?"
Monday—"Looking Into the Church From the Outside" Tuesday—"Does Christ Still Lead the Christian Church? Wednesday—"Can Catholic, Protestant, and Jew All Be Saved?" Thursday—"Man's Brain Examined"
Friday—"Recharging Man's Vital
Force" Saturday—"The Law of the Unenforceable" Sunday—"God's Atomic Power" The talk on physical health usually preceded the talk on spiritual health. The first few minutes were used in answering health questions. Texts of Scripture on health that would bring out deep spiritual truths were freely used. Frequently, they were texts on Bible truths that would tie into the spiritual lesson to follow. Likewise, the talks on spiritual health often alluded to illustrations given in the health talk. In this way, there was a double reinforcement of what each of us gave. Sometimes we would change roles—the minister would talk on physical health, and the doctor oh spiritual health. This added emphasis to the truth that spiritual, physical, and mental health are inseparable—that to save the whole man was our privilege and duty, and that Christ and the angels stood ready to give us victory over the flesh and the devil. The very fact that a minister and a doctor were combining their efforts in bringing a revival to the church gave reality to the truth that we are to be sanctified wholly.
It wasn't long till the church members were on fire and eager to tell their non-Ad-ventist friends about the meetings. Having themselves benefited so much by the lessons on spiritual and physical health, they were certain that they had relatives or others who had questions on health or spiritual truths that we could answer.
We have seen churches respond before, but nothing quite so dramatic as this.
Make regular, organized efforts to lift the church, members out of the dead level in which they have been for years. Send out into the churches workers who will live the principles of health reform. Let those be sent who can see the necessity of self-denial in appetite, or they will be a snare to the church. See if the breath of life will not then come into our churches. A new element needs to be brought into the work. God's people must realize their great need and peril, and take up the work that lies nearest them.—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 267. (Italics supplied.)
As the members sitting in the pews began to make changes in their physical and spiritual lives as they followed the counsel of the Lord on healthful living, their spiritual eyesight was restored. Spiritual truths were seen clearly and distinctly; confession of sins and faults, one to another, occurred. The next step was logical. They wanted others to have this blessing. We did all we could to encourage this "share with others" spirit.
This formula was used by Christ and the disciples again and again in the restoration of fallen man. First, He restored them physically so they could think properly. Then they could discern spiritual truth, which before was only hazy and cloudy in their minds. How slow we are to discern Christ's methods and to prayerfully ask Him to help us to use His own ordained means of success! The revival grew larger, and we found ourselves visiting not only in the homes of the saints but also of sinners.
This brings us to another important facet of carrying forward a revival—namely, visiting in the homes, getting close to the people, learning of their needs. Here again the value of a doctor-minister team is clear. People are sick, and they are sick all over. Physical ills, mental frustration, and the guilt of sin have bowed them down; they have lost hope. Now here is a physician of the body and a physician of the soul saying, "We can help you." Maybe they have a physical problem they want to talk over. Of course, we cannot prescribe medicine, but we can explain why their doctor is having them get X-rays or take such and such a medicine. Or if we feel some simple adjunct, such as more exercise, a change of diet, or simple hydrotherapy will benefit them, we ask them to ask their doctor if they can carry these out without hindering his program.
You can see, we have made a friend of their family doctor. Many times the best medicine these folks can have is someone to talk to, and Christ, the bearer of our infirmities, stands ready to help their physical ills. It is an ideal combination, of Christlike work for the body and Christlike work for the soul.
We are under the conviction that this visiting in the homes, using the direct approach, is most important to the success of the revival. Elder Sunny Liu joined us, and also the local pastor, in this visitation program. It is in the home, meeting the unbelieving husband or wife, son or daughter, and giving them personal help, and then having prayer with the family, that we have some of our most wonderful experiences.
This is no time for a timid ministry. When we deal with backsliders, we must come directly to the point of introducing them to Christ, the One mighty to save. There is power in the Word to change and transform the sinner. Let us come close to people. We must love them if we want them to understand God's love. We should not be afraid to talk plainly so long as we have love in our voice. Help them to change their harmful physical and spiritual habits. The direct approach, we call it. Find the sinner, find the sin, and find the cross.
The Sabbath Program
There are two Sabbath services. We divide these, one speaking one Sabbath, the other the next. On the last Sabbath we have an afternoon service, and an opportunity is given for testimonies. This is indeed the climax of the entire program. Church members confess that "we had grown cold"; others, with tears in their voices, that "we have been in a rut for years." Then the backsliders and open sinners come to the front and tell how the prayers of this or that church member are the reason they are coming back to the church.
Brethren, when God takes over a meeting, we cannot stop it. On one occasion, the testimony and prayer service began in the late afternoon and continued right through the supper hour, up until 7:00 p.m. Some who left came back and said they went home but they couldn't stay away— they just had to come back and bear their testimony.
We trust that there will be other doctor and minister teams who will be encouraged to start church revivals. We have seen just a little of the deep movings of God's Spirit; we need to see more.
How slow men are to understand God's preparation for the day of His power! God works to-day to reach hearts in the same way that He worked when Christ was upon this earth. In reading the word of God, we see that Christ brought medical missionary work into His ministry. Cannot our eyes be opened to discern Christ's methods? Cannot we understand the commission He gave to His disciples and to us? —Medical Ministry, p. 246.
The world must have an antidote for sin. As the medical missionary works intelligently to relieve suffering and save life, hearts are softened. Those who are helped are filled with gratitude. As the medical missionary works upon the body, God works upon the heart.—Evangelism, p. 517.
* A full discussion of these topics is found in the book Better Living, by J. Wayne McFarland, M.D. Copies may be obtained at your Book and Bible House.