WHAT does one do when confronted with the task of warning 11 million people, 90 per cent non-Christian, with only ten ministerial workers and 800 church members? This is the situation here in Ceylon. However, there are some advantages we must mention as well. Ceylon is a small island, only about 250 miles from north to south and 150 miles from east to west. Three hundred people live in every square mile of this territory. So, we don't have far to go to see people—they are everywhere.
We did several things. First, we got the members into the work. Many of them are active in helping win souls to Christ. Then we asked our departmental men to engage in more direct evangelism. This is now being done. Our secretary-treasurer also is conducting a two-week decision meeting in one of our churches.
It has been my privilege to conduct two such decision meetings this year. The first was in the city of Galle, where with the loyal support of the 23 new church members, twenty-four precious souls were baptized at the close of the series. More recently I conducted a series of meetings in the Town Hall in Moratuwa, about ten miles south of Colombo.
In preparation for this series of meetings, and as advertising, we used our VW Voice of Prophecy van. Two weeks prior to the decision meetings we arranged to have open-air film shows using our temperance and Faith for Today films. We gave these film shows in various sections of the city. We also announced the forthcoming series of meetings and took applications for the Voice of Prophecy Bible course. In this way we were able to contact approximately eight thousand people. When our meeting opened in the Town Hall it was packed with about 500 people the first night.
The attendance held up very well during the series, averaging between two and three hundred. The second night of the meetings a Bible class for all who wished to remain after the sermon was started. About 125 remained every night. We had mimeographed "The Bible Says" series of studies written by R. Woolsey for use among non-Christians. We distributed Bibles and the Bible study sheet to those present and had each text read. This became a very popular feature at the meetings.
Another feature was the cooking school arranged and directed by Mrs. R. S. Fernando and Mrs. Beck. Four nights during the series the women were asked to come one and a half hours before the meeting time and observe demonstrations on how to make gluten, barley coffee, cheese curry, salads, et cetera. The attendance at the meeting was good and the interest grew from day to day.
One hundred and twenty people attended at least eleven of the fifteen nights and received an attendance award book at the close of the series.
Twenty are now in the baptismal class, looking forward to baptism and union with the church. Many others are still studying and will be baptized at a later date.
Brother J. M. Fernando stood by my side every night and did a wonderful job of translating. R. S. Fernando, pastor of the Moratuwa church and union Sabbath school secretary, did a good job in organizing the meetings and the visiting program. A. R. Pieris, a retired minister, was pressed into service to help with the visiting. Our good laymen attended the meetings faithfully and upheld our hands in prayer and did their utmost to welcome the people and help them find the Bible texts.
It is a thrilling experience to be in active evangelism. Even though the work in the office is pressing, I found these meetings to be an enriching experience in my work. They helped me better to understand the problems of our men in the field, and they keep the fire of evangelism burning more brightly in my own experience.