"This is the supervisor from the Vermont exchange. What's going on at the church? The switchboard here at the office is jammed! I've been trying to get through now for half an hour and all I get is a busy signal. And yet I see from our records that you have fifteen telephone lines!"
This conversation took place in Detroit the first night that we tried the telephone plan. Had we been warned what would take Michigan place, I still don't think we would have been entirely prepared. It is difficult to describe the excitement the first time through.
Our telethon operators had been properly instructed before the telecast began. At the close of the telecast Elder Vandeman introduced Planet in Rebellion to the viewers and invited them to go to their telephones and request a free copy of the book. Within twenty-five seconds after the telephone number was flashed on the screen, all fifteen operators were busy answering requests. Thirty minutes later all fifteen telephones were still busy. That first night we had more than 400 requests for Planet in Rebellion, with almost 300 of these enrolling in Take His Word. Many of these were long-distance telephone calls.
We go across the State of Michigan to a small community and one telephone, one operator—the minister in this case. The offer is made again. In two hours he receives forty-two requests for Planet in Rebellion, again enrolling 75 per cent of the callers in Take His Word. One of those who called in was the mayor.
These are the two extremes. In all, we used seventy-eight telephones in eighteen cities, covering most of Michigan. In the large cities we discovered that the more telephones we used, the more calls we received. In Detroit, for instance, we added three more telephones after our first offer and received about a hundred more calls the next time.
In order to give you an overall view of the program, here is an outline of the plan:
- Elder Vandeman invites viewers to request a free copy of Planet in Rebellion.
- Trained operators are waiting at their telephones, ready to receive the calls.
- On a specially prepared card the operator writes the name and address of each person requesting Planet in Rebellion, in addition to any other information learned from the caller.
- The cards are collected and given to typists who record the names and information in typed form ready to be used by the It Is Written office.
- The office prepares labels and attaches them to previously packaged books. These are mailed the same day.
- Those requesting Take His Word are enrolled.
It is interesting to note that in Detroit we had the largest number of telephone lines aside from the Credit Bureau. We used what is called a trunk-hunting system. This utilizes separate lines with consecutive numbers. When the first line is busy, the call is automatically channeled to the second line, eventually using all the lines in the installation. Wherever you have more than one line, it is necessary to use a trunk-hunting system. This word of precaution: Have the telephone company replace the bells with neon lights.
This last year we received more than 6,000 requests for Planet in Rebellion. In one city a Catholic nun requested the book and also enrolled in Take His Word. She stated that she was a teacher and one of forty sisters in a Catholic school. She said they watched and enjoyed the program each week.
Only eternity can reveal the souls saved through this modern means of evangelism.