This denomination has been entrusted by God with tools or weapons that are not found in any other religious movement. We state this in all humility, for it is the Lord God Himself who has clothed His church with this outstanding armor with which she is to engage in the final battle.
Last January it was my privilege to join our workers who, in different capacities, contribute to the proclamation of the gospel in the French capital and its surroundings. By a happy coincidence I was able to visit several of our offices, lecture halls, and institutions. I thus gathered a great deal of information and many impressions, which gave the vision of a work whose unique value and beauty often escape our notice.
Perversion or Truth?
One of the things that strikes the occasional visitor in Paris is the place the press seems to take in everyday life. Newsstands and bookshops are counted by the thousands; there is a daily, weekly, flood of books, papers, and magazines of all types, which, with few exceptions, contain nothing uplifting for the reader. However, at the very doors of the city there is a modest publishing house that tries to offset the rising tide of such publications. Its presses turn all day in order to print material that will feed souls hungry for hope, encouragement, and truth—the things they so much need. Our institution, Les Signes des Temps ("Signs of the Times"), near MeIun, France, prepares publications that are distributed by consecrated colporteurs to the remotest towns and villages. From the very beginning the Lord granted the Advent Church a vision of the tremendous possibilities offered by the press as an agent of evangelism. And since that time our papers have not ceased to go around the world, sowing seeds of light and life.
Bible in the Hand
A few days later, in Paris, I attended another of the "Bible in Hand" meetings. Hundreds of listeners followed our worker attentively as they turned the pages of the Bible with him. What strength and encouragement it gives to the preacher to be able to state in all simplicity, "Thus speaks the Lord." Human eloquence and persuasion take second place while the Word "blazes."
In Paris, as in all the world at the present time, religion hardly penetrates into restaurants and homes. But even so the church has her mission there. Since the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the way of feeding and treating it is important. This is why God Himself has set rules for diet and health. Let no one forget, therefore, that there is religion in the way of making bread! In the United States and in Australia, Adventist food products are appreciated by many and can be found in most stores, but in our division this is not so. However, our "Pur-Aliment" and Phag food factories are keeping up their pioneer work, although the people do not seem to know much about the importance of healthful eating.
European Five-Day Plan
Then there is our most recent tool—the Five-Day Plan. The church that prepares to meet her Lord has not only given up tobacco but is now contributing to the liberation of helpless victims of this social plague. The plan that has been worked out is one of good common sense combined with the intelligence of the individual. In Saint-Etienne, France, I had the privilege of attending the first meeting in our division of this social service.
From Suspicion to Support
I saw the listeners arrive for the first meeting—suspicious and shy, cigarettes in their pockets. I watched them as night after night they listened to Dr. G. Hummel and the evangelist, C. Delargilliere, as they explained how to come out victorious in the battle over the tobacco habit. I then had the pleasure at the last meeting of witnessing many hands raised, giving proof of victories gained. Several people were eager to know which organization came so generously to their rescue. Now the Five-Day Plan has been launched in other cities, such as Valence and Paris in France; Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. F. Brennwald and Pastor R. Lenoir have led out in some of these. Everywhere men and women are grateful for this outstretched hand. A woman in Geneva, at the end of the five days, asked the worker: "May we also attend your church services?" Dr. Brennwald writes the following about the Five-Day Plan in Geneva: "The plan . . . has caused us much work, but also joy untold. Let us hope that aside from lives changed here below, there will also be fruitage for eternity."
All this strengthens my vision of the church "prepared for battle," clothed with the complete armor of God and provided—thanks to tithes and offerings—with weapons of war to ensure success.
No doubt the Advent Church is far from having attained perfection. But she has a mission to fill, a message to proclaim, and she has received the necessary weapons or tools to win the final battle. Are we preachers worthy of this high calling? If upon asking such a question we feel like blushing for shame, let us turn our eyes toward Him who has the power to forgive and to make us worthy of serving Him. He will not disappoint us but grant us the victory.