The Hanseatic town of Hamburg is Germany's largest and most famous harbor —Germany's door to the world. Our twelve hundred church members and nine ministers in Hamburg felt that the nearly 2 million inhabitants of this metropolis should hear the message, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come" (Rev. 14:7).
The usual steps of searching for a hall were taken. A fine civic center was rented for a nominal sum, since it would be used for religious purposes. Following this, the conference committee met with the ministers and church elders to lay further plans. A program was mapped out and every church member was visited to secure his cooperation in filling out forms indicating the addresses of interested relatives and friends. A special meeting was conducted for the entire church membership, where prayer lists were formulated and stimulating quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy were handed out. The evangelistic budget was materially aided by the distribution of special offering envelopes.
Preparatory Meetings Necessary
Special pre-evangelistic meetings were held every Wednesday and Friday evening. Attendance was excellent. The members assembled on Friday evenings for special prayer meetings. For some weeks in advance preparatory sermons were given at the various Hamburg churches. Subjects such as the "Surety of Salvation," "Behold, I Come Quickly," and "What Is Our Commission?" were given.
The evangelistic team of sixteen workers included the president and five Adventist ministers from other towns. A regular workers' meeting was held each morning at eight o'clock where we prayed and studied Testimonies for Ministers. These worship services preceded evangelistic planning discussions. Some of the ministers held special prayer and fasting seasons. Challenging convocations were held on Sabbath afternoons for the young people. Church standards were particularly discussed at this time. Everything possible was done to seek God's blessing on our endeavors. We believed that our own spiritual zeal and power would result in the winning of many souls.
Before the opening meeting 3,000 written invitations were mailed, more than 650 posters were placed, and 18,000 invitation cards were distributed to the homes of the people. One unique feature was a special press conference held in a well-known hotel, with reporters from three leading newspapers.
The opening night was September 28. The entire day was spent in fasting and praying by ministers and a number of church members. "So we fasted and besought our God." We knew that all of our mechanical efforts would avail nothing unless the Spirit of God would work in our behalf. Just as Ezra sought the help of God and refused to depend upon the king for assistance, so we knew that the success of our warfare against Satan in Hamburg depended upon God and not men's methods.
On the opening day a heavy downpour of rain took place. But we continued praying and the Lord heard our petitions. Amazingly the rain ceased from two hours before the meeting started until well after the meeting ended. In spite of other attractions, including musical performances and an evangelistic crusade sponsored by another church, the Lord granted us a full hall. The main auditorium was not sufficient to hold the crowd, and another small hall had to be added and additional chairs placed. We were able to secure this auditorium for five nights. We presented direct specific subjects from the very beginning. One included the change of the Sabbath. To illustrate the power of God at these meetings, one woman wept bitterly when she learned that she had been observing the wrong Sabbath for so long a time. A group of young men invited the evangelist to present the same messages to their companions at a nearby hostel.
Meetings were finally transferred to our Hamburg church building. During the first ten meetings between six to seven thousand people attended and nearly two hundred of them gave us their names and addresses for visitation. For thirty-five weeks we held meetings on Wednesday and Friday evenings using the theme "The Plan of Redemption."
Twenty-one sincere persons took part in our first baptism. Seven former church members were reclaimed. Our second baptism included nineteen precious souls, mostly young people. The seed sown during these meetings is still producing fruit. One great blessing was a revival experienced by the church. Marvelous victories cheered and encouraged our hearts and strengthened our faith.
God Takes Control of Tongue
One of our Adventist sisters was seriously ill with cancer. Her body was covered with lumps, and a previous operation had brought very little help. Her forty-year-old husband was not a member of the church. His devoted Christian wife did not fear death. One day when her husband was standing by her bed, she expressed her hope of the resurrection and of eternal life. Suddenly she turned, looked at her husband and said, "It would be much more delightful if I knew you were going to meet me on the resurrection morning." He bent over and answered with bright eyes, "I have decided to take Bible lessons." His wife, so pleased, replied, "Then please stick to it." Then he added, "I have decided to be in the next baptism." This statement overwhelmed his wife and also his mother-in-law felt deeply touched. Turning to the ministers who were in the room with them on this occasion, he said, "I don't know who spoke those words. I myself didn't say it, but somehow I was forced to declare it." This man was one of the candidates in the first baptism. His wife was able to be out of bed and spent the entire day with the church group and through the grace of God, she is still alive today. We worship a living God who hears prayers!
Jewelry, Smoking, and Sabbathbreaking
Another woman, who left the Adventist Church a number of years ago, heard the invitation at one of the evangelistic meetings. The Holy Spirit spoke to her heart. She had a fine job with a large company and her position required that she work on the Sabbath. Breaking the Sabbath led to wearing jewelry and smoking. After hearing the Advent message anew, she immediately stopped smoking, stripped herself of her jewelry, and began the struggle to get Sabbath off work. In a recent letter from this dear one she explains how hard the struggle had been, but how wonderfully the Lord had helped her. She wrote, "I am the happiest person in the world and want to tell everyone what the Lord has done for me. Now I know that there is really nothing impossible with our Lord if we believe. I have the Sabbath off and can still keep my job. I want you to know that your prayers for me have not been in vain. . . . I am indeed happy and contented and shall never forget to be grateful."
Our hearts are filled with gratitude and praise for God. We know that our fasting and praying has resulted in the conversion of souls. The words of the beloved Paul ring in our hearts: "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:57, 58).