How was it done? It was a very simple plan that Salim Japas, who is a master in the art of winning souls, carried out.
First, he secured the cooperation of the entire church in attending all the meetings. Every worker was assigned to a specific task for the crusade itself. Celestino Roque had charge of the children, and he did an outstanding job. Jose A. Diaz was director of visual aids; Chester Robinson and Joel SepUlveda saw to the physical arrangement of the hall. These two men had the help of the Bible instructors and an enthusiastic group of boys and girls of the church.
Three crusades were held simultaneously. In Temple City, Gonzalo Alva had charge of the meetings, with lay members assisting. Augusto Britton and Angel de la Torre were responsible for the meetings held at the Educational Center next to our Spanish church in San Fernando. Two meetings each week were held in each location. Another large meeting was held twice weekly at the St. Louis Street Educational Center which belongs to our four central Spanish churches. On Sunday we had to have two sessions here, since it was impossible to seat all the people who came to the meetings.
One month before the campaign began, 1,500 Spanish Bibles were purchased for use in the meetings. For three Sabbath mornings lay members were instructed in every aspect of the campaign. The members were counseled not to use the words "Pastor," "Elder," "Brother," or "Sister," but to say "Senor," "Senora," or "Senorita" instead.
At each location every chair was occupied every night. There was no singing of religious songs; neither was there prayer. A short introductory talk was given on the first night by B. F. Perez, the speaker of the Spanish Voice of Prophecy, in which he introduced Salim Japas.
From the start of the crusade the audience was enthusiastic about Elder Japas' presentations. Four introductory lectures were given—one on current events; one about the home and children; a third about love, courtship, and marriage; and a fourth on the Bible. At the end of the fourth meeting a short prayer was offered; from that meeting onward prayer was offered before and after each meeting.
On the fifth night each person over twelve years old was given a new Bible, a card on which was the number of the Bible, and a red pencil. Each person wrote his name on the card, but not on the Bible. The Bible, the speaker said, was only lent for twenty meetings. If, during that time, sixteen meetings were attended, the Bible would become the property of the person attending and the name could be written in the Book. Adventists and non-Adventists participated in this plan. All Spanish churches contributed funds with which to pay for the Bibles.
At the next meeting each person gave his number and received the same Bible again. If an individual forgot his number, we had the file of cards numbered, so we could look up the name and find the number there. We also had a list of the name and number of each person, and when he received his Bible, we marked him present, so we knew exactly how each one stood.
The fifth night Elder Japas gave a simple but very interesting Bible study. We printed all the lessons and at the end of the meeting they were distributed. Many people confessed that they did not know that the things the Adventists were teaching were in the Bible. When this type of study began, the people became enthusiastic and the halls were filled. New people came. Some held a Bible for the first time.
Soon we had our first baptism, then the second, and the third. At every baptism calls were made. At the end of our first baptism, more than one hundred people came forward. The ministers and the Bible instructors had more than they could do. More help was secured. Finally, around Christmas time, we decided to celebrate the Lord's Supper at our evangelistic meeting! "Impossible!" said some; "It cannot be done," others added. But Elder Tapas, a very quiet but firm person, insisted that it would work. "Give me a chance and you will see the Lord will help us get decisions that night." Since it was on a Sunday night we had two sessions. Both meetings were well attended. Brother Japas explained how the ordinances were carried out and who should participate. As a result almost all the members took part and those who wanted to be baptized also participated. It was a very spiritual meeting, and many decisions for Christ were made that evening.
When the time came for Elder Japas to go back to South America, a big meeting was scheduled in Paulson Hall for all the Spanish churches in the conference. The place was too small; we did not know that we had so many Spanish believers. More than 1,400! It has been my privilege to continue the meetings since Elder Japas left. I have used the same methods—plain simple Bible studies. We have had two baptisms since then and more are scheduled. We are sure that the Bible-marking plan is God's plan. The people are responding in a wonderful way. Many who never owned a Bible are now good Bible students and members of God's remnant church. Yes, it works!