Evangelistic Vision

This was a challenging presentation to the workers in Nebraska. Change the name and the statistics, and the principles enunciated apply to our evangelistic tasks all over the world.

J. L. DITTBERNER, President, Northern Union Conference

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

This is a record of the last instruction given by Christ to the leaders of the early church. They faced the task of giving the gospel message to the whole world. The Founder of the church outlined to His fol­lowers the simple plan of how the gospel was to be spread. The Holy Spirit, of course, is recognized as the power behind the work, but the mechanics of the pro­gram are also outlined in this verse. The starting point of the gospel work, as well as the terminal point, was given. The workers were to begin in Jerusalem and continue reaching out until the whole world received the message.

Today we face a similar task of giving the three angels' messages to the world. Our means of communication is much better. It would be possible to give the message through one voice from one place to be heard by all peoples throughout the world. But that does not seem to be God's plan of giving His special message for this time.

"Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand."—The Great Controversy, p. 612.

Our work was organized for the pur­pose of extending the work of the everlast­ing gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by Sev­enty-day Adventists. I would like to propose that we address ourselves to Jerusalem and Judea—to our home church, its commu­nity, the country in which it is located, and the dark counties adjoining. Let us think of our home town and its church as Jerusa­lem and the county as Judea; or let us think of Lincoln, the conference headquar­ters, as Jerusalem and the State of Nebraska as Judea.

Take a look at our conference here in Nebraska; contemplate the task of evange­lizing your community, and your State. We ought to emphasize Nebraska—Target Ne­braska. Within the borders of this State live almost one and a half million people. Our State is divided into 93 counties. Within these counties are hundreds of small towns and villages and a few large towns. Our task is to evangelize the com­munities and counties that constitute the State of Nebraska. How can we hit the target? How many voices do we have to give the message? How many lights are there to shed the beams of God's love and mercy to the lost? Within our conference there are 5,115 Seventh-day Adventists. This means that one out of every 276 peo­ple in Nebraska is a member of our church. If all these 5,000 voices of our church mem­bers would speak, it wouldn't take long to give the warning here in Nebraska. These individual church members are organized into 59 churches, six companies, and 17 branch Sabbath schools. Fifty-two of the 93 counties in Nebraska have either a church or a branch Sabbath school.

For us to follow the pattern of evange­lization laid down by the Master means that we must move out from our church into the community, into the county, and then to the dark counties around. To aid us in this work of evangelization, the Voice of Prophecy is heard over eight stations and Faith for Today over six outlets. Many other means, such as literature evangelists, Vacation Bible Schools, JMV camps, church schools, welfare activities, systematic literature distribution, public meetings, et cetera, are also used. We have an abun­dance of tools. We have thousands of voices. We have scores of churches, but all these soul-winning instruments and activities must be directed toward the target-Target Nebraska. A man may have a quiver full of arrows, but if he never shoots toward the target he never makes a bull's eye. I am sure we need objectives toward which we can direct our activities.

It is true the work cannot be finished by resolutions, but without resolutions and plans there is very little action and some­times this undirected action is not very suc­cessful. I would like to propose some ob­jectives to direct us toward our target. These have been thought out and recom­mended by our conference officers and committee. I hope the plans committee will adopt them tomorrow and the delegates ac­cept them by formal vote. Of course, the real objective is to finish the work, but we have to break this major objective down into personal and conference objectives, or else we will be overwhelmed by the great­ness of the task. Furthermore, objectives that are within our own sight and reach will inspire us to activity, God's blessing can be added, and He will finish the work.

During the next two years in our opera­tion Target Nebraska, we ought to:

  1. Stimulate an awareness of the times in which we live, and encourage a conse­crated missionary zeal in the lives of every church member.
  2. Carry on concentrated evangelism in 50 target towns.
  3. Cover every county with a Bible school enrollment invitation plan.
  4. Publicize the Voice of Prophecy and Faith for Today programs in the areas where they can be received.
  5. 200,000 missionary contacts by lay­men.
  6. 10,000 Bible studies by laymen.
  7. Distribute 750,000 pieces of free gos­pel literature.
  8. Conduct 75 evangelistic meetings.
  9. Baptize 500 new believers.
  10. Start and/or complete five new church buildings.
  11. Bring all existing church properties into a state of excellent repair.
  12. Organize and conduct 25 branch Sab­bath schools.
  13. Organize five companies.
  14. Organize two new churches.
  15. Open two new schools, with the ulti­mate objective of a church school serving every district.
  16. Develop an industry at the academy.
  17. Establish four new doctors in the con­ference.
  18. Increase Sabbath school member­ship by at least 500.
  19. Increase Sabbath school offerings by 10 percent.
  20. Receive 8,000 Bible school applica­tions.
  21. Reach General Conference goal for circulation of Review and Herald.
  22. All church school teachers have at least a college degree.
  23. Conduct at least one MV Share Your Faith project in each district each year.
  24. Develop further the possibilities of permanent youth camps.
  25. Conduct at least two junior and one senior camp each summer.
  26. Enlist and train 14 full-time and 10 regular part-time literature evangelists plus summer student program.
  27. Encourage literature evangelists to present and sell balanced units of message books, medical helps, and children's books.
  28. Encourage literature evangelists to get at least five Bible school applications each week.
  29. Conduct a revival in every church, preferably in connection with the Week of Prayer.
  30. Every member faithfully support the evangelistic meetings in his area by at­tending and bringing friends.
  31. Conduct 35 Vacation Bible Schools.
  32. Prominently identify all churches and institutions in the conference with eye-catching conspicuous signs that include the official church name-Seventh-day Adventist. It is further recommended that wher­ever possible early evening illumination of identifying signs and buildings be provided.
  33. Each church press secretary release to news media covering the community in which the church is situated at least one news item each month about church activ­ities.
  34. Each church not already using road­side signs showing location of the church, give study to purchasing and displaying such signs as soon as possible.

To reach these objectives will mean that district pastors, church officers, and church members will need to unite their efforts in an all-out thrust in operation Target Ne­braska. With this spirit of soul winning within our churches, God will add His blessing to the end that His work be accom­plished here in our field.

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J. L. DITTBERNER, President, Northern Union Conference

June 1963

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