The year 1965 will go down in Adventist evangelistic history as our “finest hour” for centurion evangelism. In this year 150 of our evangelists under God baptized more than 17,000 converts into the Seventh-day Adventist Church, or an average of 115 for each team. Such a report should help us all to lift our sights, for the unreaped harvest is even greater than any of us can realize. As we assembled the statistics our souls echoed the famous words “What hath God wrought!”
From Finland to Australia, and from the Middle East to the Far East, these dedicated men preached God's final message to men.
The highest per-capita baptisms per minister for any field come from the Bahia and Sergipe Mission, whose slender worker force, including even a launch captain, averaged nearly 100 baptisms. A thrilling report out of West Java states that F. A. Hamel led more than 100 Moslems to Christianity last year. In Egypt and the Middle East there is a steady increase in church membership. And in the traditionally difficult Chesapeake Bay Area of the United States, baptisms have doubled in the last two years under a strong program of coordinated evangelism. From Samoa comes word of D. E. Hay baptizing seven persons—all of whom were expelled from their village. But these humiliated ones established the work in an adjoining area and the work goes forward.
From Germany, E. Detlefsen, president of the Wuerttemberg Conference, led out in an evangelistic campaign in the city of Rottweil. A number of souls were baptized, among them a surveyor who invited his superior to the meetings. This man, who is the chairman of the board of public works, came and was deeply impressed and is now preparing for baptism.
We of THE MINISTRY staff salute these evangelistic administrators, not only in Germany but all around the world. Thus the work moves forward even in difficult areas. We rejoice that in the Japan Union many are yielding to God under the preaching of the gospel of peace. In Okinawa, Shigero Tsukayama recently led 26 through the waters of baptism.
Then think of 1,888 souls being led to Christ in 1965 in the West Indonesia Union alone! In Davao City in the Philippines, the first major campaign since 1944 was launched. This meeting survived several bomb threats and a bell-ringing procedure that would start behind the speaker's platform each evening when the preacher began to unfold his message. But the God of heaven blessed this campaign and more than 200 souls were added to the faith.
London's New Gallery Centre is a beehive of evangelistic fervor with promise of encouraging results in 1966 under the leadership of John Coltheart, recently arrived from Australia. An excellent work was accomplished there in 1965 when A. C. Fearing from our headquarter's staff led out.
Here is good news from the Southern Asia Division. The South India Union had its most fruitful year in our history, with 1,900 baptisms. One of the evangelists neared the century mark.
In Spain they are using the Bible Marking Plan with good effect. The Italian Union records a real increase in evangelistic results. And a major campaign was conducted this year in the city of Viseu in Portugal.
But it was the Trans-Africa Division that provided the record news of the century. This evangelism-oriented division reported 42 evangelists who with their associates baptized 100 souls or more. Time and space forbid our telling of all the victories during 1965. Nor can we list that great group of dedicated men and women who, toiling under insurmountable difficulties, had but few souls to show. This would also constitute an inspiring chronicle. We salute you, brethren, whoever you are and wherever you labor. Those of us who do this work know from experience something of the perplexities you face. But do not forget that Heaven views success in terms of sincere effort expended as well as results attained. The spirit in which we do our work is important to God. We thank our blessed Lord, whose Spirit is leading out in the finishing of His work. Thousands are literally pressing their way into the ranks. All heaven is astir.
The last tragic scenes on earth are moving the angelic host to action. As sure as the apostles of old were led by angels in their soul-winning work, so sure are we of the cooperation of those heavenly hosts in these last days. God's work will be finished on earth and finished on time. Then our Saviour will come for His redeemed people. To hasten that glad day through earnest soul-winning endeavor is man's highest privilege.
Looking back over the year 1965, our hearts are filled with gratitude. Under God, we are increasing our evangelistic outreach. This is a most hopeful sign. In my own experience in New York City, in fellowship with thirty ministers of the gospel and fourteen Bible instructors, more than 400 souls were added to the church. This convinces me that the public appetite for Bible preaching has not waned and that men of all ranks and races will come to Spirit-filled meetings. And there we saw some wonderful movings of God in our midst. The year 1966 is the year of the General Conference session, at which time larger plans will be laid for the proclamation of the Advent message. In our planning, let us acknowledge this fact, that under God we may double all previous results. And may we as a church experience what one author calls "the second coming of the Holy Spirit" in all of His fullness. If our Lord were here He would say to each of us, "Lift up your eyes."
We know that our ministerial force around the world will rejoice to know that 140 men and their associates scattered through many countries each baptized 100 souls or more. We must not forget there is rejoicing in heaven over even one sinner who repents!
E. E. C.
(Please see the pdf version of this information to view the "Men of the Century" statistics from 1965)