When Paul arrived at Athens, "his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." One receives the same impression on arrival at the great metropolis, Mexico City.
The first surprise the visitor to Mexico City experiences is its great size, with almost 6 million inhabitants who are justly proud of the famous University of Mexico, many great cultural institutions, and magnificent historic and archeological treasures. Indeed, Mexico City is the largest city in the Inter-American Division, and one of the largest in Latin America and the entire world.
The second surprise is a sad one, because although the Mexican Union has more than 31,000 baptized members, yet in the capital city there are only six churches with about 1,000 members.
But the visitor to Mexico experiences a third surprise when he is told that within the past three years three beautiful church buildings have been erected, and in these is being carried on the greatest evangelistic crusade that Mexico City has ever seen.
Arrangements were made through the proper channels to invite Carlos E. Aeschlimann, evangelist of the Buenos Aires Conference of South America, to conduct a large-scale evangelistic campaign in Mexico City. A team of 33 workers from the six missions in Mexico were brought together to cooperate with the evangelist and participate in an evangelistic school conducted simultaneously. Of this group eight are senior ministerial students from the Mexican Adventist seminary, and three are teachers from the Linda Vista Academy in southern Mexico.
Preparation and Organization of the Campaign
Several months before the public meetings began, various committees worked hard arranging details and laying the groundwork. Sergio Moctezuma, director of lay activities in the Mexican Union, energetically directed a lay campaign, which resulted in hundreds of interested persons and strengthened the radio work. As a plan to obtain names and addresses, approximately 20,000 homes were visited, and a poll was taken of the subjects in which the public would be interested. General plans for the campaign were directed by a steering committee presided over by Alfredo Aeschlimann, president of the Mexican Union. Other committees were named as follows: (1) Press, (2) Public Relations, (3) Lay Participation, (4) Music, (5) Finance, (6) Art, (7) Publicity, (8) Ushers.
The workers were divided into three groups, each directed by local pastors Samuel Guizar, Xavier Soto Valle, and Jose Corral. Jose CastrejOn, president of the Central Mexican Mission, was selected as the general coordinator of personnel. It was wonderful to see the cooperation of the union, local mission, and Book and Bible House personnel. Seven hundred Bibles were donated by the Book and Bible House, and the church members cooperated in providing 1,400 more.
God opened doors that generally are closed quite tight in a large city. We refer to the "doors" opened by the press, radio, television, and cultural societies. The Press Committee, directed by Prof. David Garcia Poyato, secured free publicity by all the usual mediums. When the evangelist arrived at the Mexico City International Airport at one-thirty in the morning, on September 29, all the principal newspapers and television stations sent reporters and photographers. Favorable publicity, which would have cost around 55,000 was secured almost free of charge.
Various cultural entities—among them one of the most famous organizations in Mexico, the National Institute of Social Security—invited Carlos Aeschlimann to present special lectures. The hall provided for this lecture was filled to capacity, and six hundred persons were turned away. The responsible authorities stated that the attendance was the largest witnessed in the history of the institution. Twelve such lectures were presented, with an approximate total attendance of 5,000.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of the campaign is the ready cooperation on the part of the publicity mediums: press, radio, and television. At the present time short five-minute radio and television programs are being prepared, which will be transmitted to the public without cost. It is hoped to reach three million listeners and viewers through these presentations.
On Sabbath, October 17, an air of expectancy reigned among workers and members in Mexico City. That night, the first lecture of the evangelistic campaign was presented in the Colonia-Anahuac church. Six hundred persons attended. The next night the cycle was begun in the Tacubaya church, and in the double-session held, more than 1,000 attended. Three weeks later the third series was begun in the brand-new Portales church, and 700 came to listen. From then on meetings were held twice on Sundays and Sabbaths, and one each night of the week, a total of nine meetings every week—three in each cycle or series.
During the first two weeks approximately 2,500 names were registered by the evangelistic team. At present an average of 1,150 persons are attending the meetings, and it is wonderful to see the three churches constantly filled by sincere seekers of truth.
The Bible in the Hands of the Public
Should one be privileged to attend one of these evangelistic meetings he would see a Bible in the hand of each person present. Each time the evangelist mentions a Bible text, hundreds of persons may be seen rapidly turning to the page indicated and following the reading of the text announced, then underlining it. It is really thrilling to see the great interest demonstrated by all in the study of the Bible. As a method of evangelism, a Bible course is being carried on, and those who attend regularly will receive the Bible they have used as a gift. A total of 1,689 are enrolled in this Bible course.
The Homes of the People Are Open
In each class of the evangelistic school that is being conducted parallel with the campaign, emphasis has been laid on the fact that the success of the effort depends on the personal Bible work done. Great enthusiasm has been displayed on the part of all members of the evangelistic team, and surely the most extraordinary aspect of this campaign is the work done by these faithful workers in the homes. At date of writing, Bible studies are being given in 600 homes to more than 1,400 interested persons.
Some Interesting Figures
Poll sheets answered
(20,000 homes visited) 20,000
Average attendance during the first meetings 1,898
Names obtained at the meetings 2,500
Registered in the Bible course 1,689
Homes in which studies are being given 600
Number of persons studying 1,400
Number baptized (8 weeks after beginning of campaign) 56
This evangelistic campaign is bringing great blessing to the thirty-three workers who comprise the evangelistic team, the members of the Mexico City churches, and the entire Mexican Union. There is a great revival of evangelistic fervor. We believe that a new day has dawned for God's work in this great country of Mexico.