The church should be an organization of individuals whose supreme common aim is to help severed, wayward, independent man to make connection with God his Creator. To achieve this goal, the incomparable value of the individual soul must be kept in focus. One of Satan's most successful methods to keep the church from realizing her aim is to divert the time and energy of her forces into good and worthy but, sometimes, unrelated or unimportant avenues.
When battles are fought, multiplied ideas and plans must be discarded in favor of the most direct and decisive methods for achieving victory. There are many possible treatments for pneumonia that could be labeled helpful. But any treatment that bypasses the marvelous miracle-working medicines available today is not only a dangerous procedure but in some cases could be fatal.
The church must ever constantly and consistently ask herself, "What are we here for? Are we using our potential in the best possible way to reach our goal?"
The following gripping incidents related by our overseas division leaders at the council are nuggets of pure gold and emphasize our objectives as a movement to God. As ministers we need to see God at work in the lives of men. You will enjoy these living experiences.
J. R. S.
Australasian Division—L. C. Naden, President
A deaf-and-dumb boy up in the highlands of New Guinea, totally illiterate, learned the third angel's message by special revelation. The story sounded so fantastic that I found it difficult to believe. I was up there a few months ago and talked with Brother Tindall who said, "Well, I was just as skeptical as you are, but I went up and saw him. This young man has worked out a sign language between himself and his father. The father can speak to him, and they have complete communication between each other." Brother Tindall went in with a young man who could speak pidgin English, and he spoke to the father. Questions were asked concerning the doctrines of the message. Brother Tindall said, "I thought I would ask this young man a difficult one. I said to him, 'What is Satan going to do during the millennium?' Well, that is a difficult question to ask some of the people in the homeland. Brother Tindall said, "This little illiterate deaf-and-dumb boy put his hands together and laid his head on his hands. 'That is what Satan is going to do during the millennium.' " A deaf-and-dumb boy right in the jungles of New Guinea has been used of God to establish a strong work in that particular area. He and his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, and many people nearby, are baptized members of this church today.
Central European Division—O. Gmehling, President
Sometimes the people come in contact with us in a very peculiar way. This year while working from house to house a book evangelist found Renate Von Hassel, a young lady who is a music student. She had read the book Die Neue Pamela. In this book the American writer described the life of a young Adventist. After reading it, she started to live the Adventist way and began to celebrate Sabbath. It did not take very long until she was baptized.
In one town a woman came to our public effort. She had never heard of us. In a restaurant near the railway station a young man was sitting at her table. Before beginning to eat he prayed a silent prayer of thanks. She spoke to this young man and he told of his faith and invited her to visit our church. She came and later was baptized.
Far Eastern Division—C. P. Sorensen, President
Vietnam is a country we read about so often in the news, where the war with the Communists is going on at an accelerated pace. Many of our church members have suffered persecu, tion because of the conditions in Vietnam. Nine of our literature evangelists were kidnaped by the Viet Cong. Only two have returned. The other seven must be presumed lost, making the supreme sacrifice. But this has not discouraged our people in that land. In 1960 we had 16 literature evangelists there. Today we have 105.
Inter-American Division—C. L. Powers, President
In Colombia, South America, a high-ranking army officer is studying with one of our laymen. He recently called the Upper Magdalena Mission office to lodge a complaint. First, he congratulated the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the message it has for the world, a message with the power to change lives. Then he said, "But I do have a complaint. Why aren't you preaching on street corners, in market places, on the city square, in buses, in trains. from rooftops—everywhere? Put aside your fear. Preach with boldness." Then he offered his services in case we were troubled by the authorities. Can you imagine these marching orders from an outsider, in a country that has been called the most precious jewel in the Pope's crown!
Middle East Division—R. A. Wilcox, President
Public meetings continue in our beautiful Cairo evangelistic center with twenty-seven baptisms there in the last year and a half. A fine well-to-do businessman took his stand for this truth. One night when he went home he found his door locked and barred. He slept at a hotel that night. Then his people came to him and said, "We have disowned you. You can't be in business any more. You can't go home. All you have is the Adventists." He said, "Praise the Lord. All I need is the Lord Jesus."
We thought we ought to come up with some financial plan to aid this good man, but before we could talk to him, he came to our office and pulled out a big envelope of tithe from his pocket. He said, "I am working on the side. I have another business going now. Someday my house will open up and my family will take me back, and then I can begin to work with them and lead them to Christ." He was asked to defend his faith at a large meeting. They said, "You must defend your faith." So, before a large group of men around a massive table in a large building stood our brother with his Bible. With a knife in his hand, his son rushed through a back door and attacked his father. If it had not been for the intervention of a friend, he would have killed him. The fine man continued to work. He returned to his house and began to teach his wife. He was very kind and showed her the truth. And in the Cairo center just a few nights ago, his wife was baptized. Then they both watched their daughter enter the waters of baptism, and then another daughter, and another daughter. All but the son were baptized. Now the father is giving Bible studies to the boy. Some of the finest businessmen of Cairo are accepting the truth.
Northern European Division—E. E. Roenfelt; President
While I was in the city of Warsaw I decided that it would be wise for me to see the government minister for cults. I was fortunate to be in Poland, for not many people are allowed in. I felt that it would be a good thing for me to go and see this minister. Our secretary-treasurer made an appointment for us to see this gentleman, and accompanied by Brother Dombrosky, I went to his office. At first he seemed to be very nervous. He smoked cigarette after cigarette, but finally he composed himself and we had a friendly chat together. We spent an hour and a half with him, discussing our work and our movement. During our conversation he made a remark that impressed me. "Mr. Roenfelt," he said, "you Seventh-day Adventists must develop into a big, strong church in this country." "Why do you hold that opinion?" I asked. He replied, "Here in Poland we have two large and strong groups. On the one hand we have the Communistic Party and on the other hand we have the Roman Catholic Church. These groups are about equal in power and influence. We need another party to stand between these parties as a buffer. You Seventh-day Adventists are the largest Protestant group in the country and you must grow and develop into a strong group to stand between Communism and Roman Catholicism." I did not tell him why I felt that our church should grow numerically and in every other way in Poland, but I went to our people and said, "Brethren, this is the day of our opportunity in Poland to proclaim the message of God for the hour." Our people responded. To the conference workers they said, "Brethren, we do not want you to pastor us. Our local elders, deacons, and deaconesses will care for the churches. You go out and preach the message to the millions of people of this land who have never heard it." Brethren, in Poland today our workers are out preaching this message to the public, and our lay people are caring for our churches.
South American Division—J. J. Aitken, President
A priest over in Mendosa saw our evangelist on television holding a baptism. (We have found that holding a public baptism is one of the finest ways to bring people into the truth.) This Catholic priest called up the telephone company and said, "I would like to know the telephone number of the Seventh-day pastor." They said, "That man does not have a telephone. He has just arrived. He is just an evangelist." The priest said, "I don't care if he is just one of these evangelists or not. He is doing a lot of good for the city of Mendosa. Give him a telephone just as soon as possible." He got a telephone on the priest's order. He said, "That man should be in contact with the people." We need to be in contact with the people in order for the message to burn within their hearts, that they might know what the truth is.
Because so many Catholics were in Mendosa, Brother Joppas, our pastor, arranged for special services. Then he said, "I want you to come to the Rosary, which will be Wednesday night [our prayer meeting on Wednesday night]." Then they were told, "Next week we are going to have the cardinal of the Seventh-day Adventist church [Elder Peverini, who is the union president] visit us." So you can see we are trying to adapt ourselves to the Catholic way of thinking a bit in order to reach these people.
Southern Asia Division—R. S. Lowry, President
We are cheered by all that we can measure statistically, but more than this by the character and consecration of some of the precious souls who have come into the church from rank heathenism. One such person is the Hindu girl, Kali. Her name indicates she was a devotee to the cruel and bloodthirsty goddess, Kali, of the Hindu pantheon. This girl had completed her high school work and was ready to take her place in the society of her people. She became interested in the truth while attending one of our evangelistic meetings, but had no Bible from which to study. She sold her fountain pen and traveled seventy miles to our Book and Bible House, where she purchased a Bible. Daily she studied it carefully and prayerfully and finally accepted Christ as her personal Saviour.
Upon learning of her new-found faith her parents threatened her life. Undaunted, she proceeded with her plans and was baptized. She was subjected to intense persecution from all her relatives. On one occasion, while tied in disgrace with a rope, she was dragged along the road in view of the public. She was flogged many times, and once after such a beating was left tied in the hot sun for the entire day without food or water. Though she wept and became faint her relatives gave her no assistance.Yet she would not give up Christ. When all such inflictions did not shake her faith, her brother determined to silence her by stuffing her mouth full of rags. Finally, she was driven from her home and found shelter with the local mission worker. She is now in attendance at one of our schools, preparing to be a Bible instructor. She enjoys a rich Christian experience and is an inspiration to all. She has changed her name from Kali, meaning "ferocious," to Amminie which means "pet." In a very real way she feels she is the special object of God's care.
Southern European Division—M. Fridlin, President.
The Southern European Division extends from the English Channel to Africa, where we have former French, Spanish, and Portuguese territories; Madagascar, Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. Today we have more than four thousand members in Mozambique. About eight hundred have been baptized in the third quarter of this year alone. Extraordinary things are happening down there. We don't have much freedom. We can work only officially in the little district of Munguluni. A Portuguese woman in Mozambique visited a friend about two hundred miles from where she lived. In a bush village she learned that not far away were some people who met together each Saturday. "They are not heathen or Roman Catholics. We don't know what they are," she was told. Early on Sabbath morning this woman went to find them. It was just a bush path. She had trouble with her feet so took her shoes off and walked in her bare feet for an hour or two. Finally she heard the singing of hymns and came to a small bush chapel. About fifty people were there with their Bibles. After the meeting, the leader met her and expressed his surprise to have a white woman in the congregation. She asked, "Do you meet here every Saturday?" "Oh, yes," he replied. "But what are you?" she asked. He answered, "We are Saturday Adventists." He showed her pamphlets and books and invited her to come to attend a baptismal service. She attended the baptism in company with one of our workers. Many people in Mozambique are keeping the Sabbath without any of our workers ever having visited them.
Trans-Africa Division—R. H. Pierson, President
The deaf-mutes are having a part in preaching the message. A deaf-and-dumb man in Rhodesia, who is able to communicate with some of his close friends who act as his interpreters, raised up a church and erected a prayer house in which they can worship. Not only are the deaf-mutes preaching, but the blind are having a part as well. Blind Samuel is a man whom God has endowed with a wonderful memory. He can quote whole chapters of the Scripture. On Sabbath afternoon Brother Samuel goes out and tells the people there will be a meeting Sabbath night. The folks ask him who is going to preach, and he says, "I am." So the people come to find out what this man can talk about. He is a good soul winner.
Little children are having a part in evangelism in Trans-Africa too. Little Miriam, whose parents were heathen, attended some evangelistic meetings. One night when the pastor preached on the punishment of the wicked, she went home crying. She was a Christian, and when her parents asked her what she was crying about, she said, "Oh, Mamma and Daddy, I have been hearing tonight about what is going to happen to those who don't accept Jesus as their Saviour. You are not Christians, and my heart is breaking to know what is ahead for you. Oh, if only you were Christians too!" That little girl's appeal to her mother and father reached their hearts. They attended the meetings with her after that, and today they are baptized members.