Field schools in evangelism are training programs conducted by members of the religion department in conjunction with a series of public evangelistic meetings. They are normally four to five weeks in length. Instruction is given in a class meeting five mornings each week, with visitation in the afternoon and observation of and participation in the public meeting each evening. After each nightly meeting the group is gathered for an evaluation of the day's activities and for sharing visitation experiences. Up to five semester hours of college credits may be received.
Under special arrangements students may elect to enter a ten-week scholarship program. The first four weeks are spent in one of the field schools, and six additional weeks spent in organizing and conducting an effort with another student in one of the local conferences. A $300 tuition scholarship is given each student in addition to the $100 granted each student enrolled in the regular field school program.
During the field school proper the students receive free room and board, an incidental living allowance of $10 or $15 a week per team of two students for evangelistic visiting, and a grant-in-aid of $100. The students pay tuition at the regular summer rate.
After the field school is over, student teams go out into the local conferences to conduct their own efforts. They have been thoroughly instructed and have been given materials to aid them in carrying on a regular series of evangelistic meetings. The local conference supplies an effort budget of $250. The men receive free room, $2.50 per day each, a $10 incidental living allowance, and $15 a week per team for mileage. The local conference contributes $200, and the union conference and college contributes $100 each toward a tuition scholarship for the students. (The union conference also contributes $1,500 toward the field school budget with the local conference appropriating the balance. The college pays the salaries of the instructors.)
Last summer eight student teams held meetings in which 75 people took their stand for Christ and church membership. Of these, 28 were baptized before the students left the field. I believe that this is a most commendable record for student evangelism. Thrilling were the stories of personal victory that were told by the student teams at a ministerial retreat held right after school began in the fall. The students were inspired and their vision was lifted. They learned from personal experience the truth that "there is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God."—The Desire of Ages, pp. 250, 251.
Including efforts by students and staff of Southern Missionary College over a four-month period the total decisions were 238 with 164 baptisms. I believe this is an indication of what can happen when youth receive a vision of a finished work.
Months of visitation, prayer, and planning by Southern Missionary College students were climaxed with approximately one hundred decisions to join the Seventhda), Adventist Church.
For several months students visited the homes of Chattanooga residents regularly, gig, ing out the lesson study in connection with the It Is Written television program on WRCB-TV channel 3. After becoming closely acquainted with the families they were visiting, the students invited them to attend the It Is Written crusade, which was held in Chattanooga's Tivoli Theater, April 25-May 17.
Approximately 1,480 persons turned out to occupy the majority of the 1,780 seats in the theater on opening night. Attendance continued to run high throughout the crusade, with 1,300-1,500 usually present.
Evangelist for the meetings was Bruce Johnston, chairman of SMC's division of religion and coordinator and staff representative for It Is Written in Chattanooga.
Elder Johnston has directed more than thirty crusades, many of them in the Midwest, including such cities as Indianapolis, Chicago, and South Bend. He holds the B.A. from Walla Walla College, the M.A. and the B.D. from Andrews University.
Associated with Elder Johnston were Elder and Mrs. Gordon Henderson. Elder Henderson was minister of music, and Mrs. Henderson was the organist and sang duets with her husband.
A graduate of Walla Walla College, Elder Henderson has been in evangelistic work for ten years, including crusades in Washington and California. He was associated with George E. Vandeman at the Ford Auditorium in Detroit when Elder Vandeman presented his It Is Written program there.
The opening sermon presented by Bruce Johnston was "Planet in Rebellion," and dealt with the problem of human suffering. One of the important questions answered in the sermon was "If there is a God of love, why do people suffer?"
Sermons presented throughout the crusade were designed to link current events with Biblical forecasts, and to present practical answers for the problems of the complex days in which the world is involved.
Typical topics were "Can the Space Age Conquer Death?"; "Russia Races for World Control," "How Can I Be Sure of Eternal Life?"; "Mr. Johnston, Why Do You Keep Saturday for Sunday?"; "The Longest Court Case in History"; "Is It Necessary to Keep the Sabbath to Be Saved?"; and "The Secret of a Happy Home."
At the meetings special reference Bibles, identically paged, were used by the audience as the preacher referred to various texts.
More than 1,000 Bibles were awarded those who attended ten of the twenty-five meetings held.
George Vandeman of the It Is Written program led out in a special follow-up meeting for the crusade on June 28, in the Tivoli Theater. At that time about twenty others joined the group requesting baptism.