We need men today who dream of heaven and work feverishly to prepare citizens to inhabit it. We need an evangelistic leadership that will strip itself of less important religious duties in favor of life-giving activity. We need men who will stay clear of the fog of philosophy and heed Paul's admonition to Timothy, "Preach the word." Men who will move and not dawdle. Strong men who will risk all to bring truth to the public. Men who love souls more than self.
This fierce hour of conflict in which we live repudiates the weak, scorns the feeble, mocks at the faint heart. Those who dream of sustentation are disqualified for this type of leadership.
A premium should be placed upon those who exchange the fireside easy chair for the nightly conflict with the enemy of God and man. Only the man who has attempted to wrest souls from Satan's clenched fist through public evangelism knows what this is all about. The man who dares to hire halls, print handbills, and claims to have a message from God must constantly fight against doubts, fear of failure, pride of success, and love of relaxation.
It takes nerve and courage to keep going in spite of numerous empty seats. It requires plenty of endurance constantly to push ahead, attempting by the power of God to reform the deformed. The appeal of a dictating machine and a travel credit card at times becomes overwhelmingly strong. The tragedy is that the type of man who has the qualifications of a public evangelist seemingly has a magnetic attraction for calls into other areas of endeavor. If only a caste system could be inaugurated, making evangelists untouchables, perhaps our church would advance far more rapidly than it has!
This month's special feature is the result of a vision and tenacity that merits our attention. Pastor George Vandeman has by the grace of God advanced steadily into an area of experiment in preaching the gospel. Shore hugging is not one of his qualities, for which we are profoundly thankful. He has been ably assisted in the editing of scripts and films by Marjorie Lewis Lloyd, author of Take His Word.
The following pages reveal a combined potential of mass communication, methods of reaping converts, and utilizing the time and talents of our laymen. We have attempted to set forth practical material, which if studied carefully should result in helping our pastor-evangelists in their own evangelistic harness plus catching a vision as to what can be done with an It Is Written crusade in their area.
In recent months perhaps the largest and most concentrated public evangelistic program our denomination has ever witnessed took place in the Los Angeles area. The principles and organization of the It Is Written program were proved to be effective on a gigantic scale. Only celestial statistical secretaries know the full impact of this campaign on the hearts and minds of thousands. The human evaluation is set forth in this issue by those who know.
In contrast to the application of an It Is Written program to a giant metropolis, under the direct leadership of Pastor Vandeman, we point out what happened in an area of small towns with populations ranging from 3,000 to 34,000 in southern Iowa. Here, nearly 200 souls were baptized by simply tying in the evangelistic program with the telecast and other features of the It Is Written program.
We trust as the reports of this spiritual enterprise unfold that those who have mentally consigned mass evangelism to the graveyard will experience a new birth of conviction and action. Personally, I am doubly convinced that New Testament evangelism not only is congenial to the modern world but is also of utmost necessity to the church in general. If no other benefits are derived except the all-important one of quickening the spiritual natures of the Adventist ministry and laity, it is worth it!
"In these perilous times we should leave untried no means of warning the people. We should be deeply interested in everything that will stay the tide of iniquity. Work on. Have faith in God."—Evangelism, p. 63.
Let the disease of pessimism find a cure in the optimistic action of fearlessly marching forth to the public with a message of freedom and liberty in the Lord Jesus.