A young Royal Australian Air Force lieutenant along with 1,500 other men was ready to embark on the old S.S. Ulysses bound for England. The first world war was at its height. Just before boarding the ship he and his younger brother locked hands in silence. A deep and strong love bound their hearts together. In a few moments the "all aboard" order was shouted. The moment of separation had come. The older brother, eyes riveted on his younger brother, said, "Roy, I'll do your part at the front if you'll do my part in the work of God." A quick good-by wave was given as he boarded ship. They were never to see each other again. One year later Roy received a cablegram informing him that his brother was killed in an accident during formation flying. Immediately the mantle of two men's responsibility fell upon the younger brother. Up until this time he had thought of making music his career, but the parting statement of his soldier brother was destined to change his whole life program.
Roy Allan Anderson, affectionately known by us as "the chief," was that younger brother. He has never forgotten or failed to fulfill that pledge made in 1917 to the one who is awaiting the call of the Lifegiver. Shortly after this experience Avondale College began fitting him more definitely for the ministry as well as providing the opportunity for him to meet Myra Wendt who for 46 years has shared his joys and sorrows. Following their marriage in 1920 they spent seven soul-winning years in New Zealand. One of their converts was L. C. Naden, now president of the Australasian Division.
From 1,400 to 3,500 Seats
In 1927 the Andersons returned to Australia and began evangelistic work in the capital city of Brisbane. The 1,400-seat theater soon proved too small. A 2,200-seat theater was secured, but after several weeks they were compelled to vacate, owing to theater remodeling plans. Now the question was, Where could they go?
A prominent businessman of the city knowing their predicament tested their faith by saying, "Remember, my friend, there is only one way to go and that is up. If you believe what you are saying and if you are confident that it is true, then you must go to His Majesty's Theatre—the opera house. It is the largest and finest in the city and will attract the very best people." The chief's youthful faith was tested to the limit. How could he ever begin in a place like this? Faith overcame fear, and meetings were begun in this strategic and important location. Two and a half years later capacity crowds were still listening to the Advent message.
Daniells, Australia, and England
In 1928 A. G. Daniells visited Australia and attended one of the Sunday night meetings when more than one thousand people were turned away. He talked very candidly to the chief and said, "I believe the Lord wants you in another area of the world." Eighteen months later a call from the General Conference came for the Andersons to work in London, England. In 1930, when the world was plunging into the depths of an awful depression, this 34-year-old Australian Adventist preacher began his work in England. The Lord's Spirit was mightily poured out upon his labors. Remember, these were the days of depression, but the people attending the meetings supported the work year after year, as practically no budget was received from the conference. (One year $75 was advanced by the conference committee.) Those who know the chief best know that his strong faith in God's power and leading is a personal quality to be desired far above budgets and equipment. Where there is vision, the people prosper!
La Sierra College
Six and a half years later they were invited to connect with the Pacific Union Conference. Activities included strong public evangelistic work, chairmanship of the La Sierra College Bible department, graduate work at the University of Southern California, and being loaned to the Inter-American Division for a large evangelistic campaign in the city of Kingston, Jamaica. This latter experience undoubtedly enlarged the vision of the ministers and evangelists of the British West Indies Union. Today we have more centurion evangelists in that area of the world than in any other.
At the 1941 General Conference session he was elected as a staff member of the Ministerial Association. This involved teaching, editorial work, and ministerial training. Eventually seminary extension schools were developed, and during the years he has participated in twelve or thirteen of these training programs held in most of the world divisions. Forty-three of his 47 years in active ministerial service have been spent largely in training other ministers—either in the ministry or in one of the most effective of all programs, large field schools of evangelism. These field schools of evangelism have found him conducting meetings in three of the largest cities of the world—London, New York, and Tokyo. For twenty-five years his work in the Ministerial Association has molded the thinking and enlarged the vision of our world ministry.
Won by Music
The gift of music seems to be a heredity feature in the Anderson family. The late A. W. Anderson, father of three ordained ministers, was an accomplished musician. Therefore music has played an important part in the life of our subject. During his ministry he has compiled several songbooks and had a part in the development of the Church Hymnal. One of the unique features of his evangelistic work was the use of a choir, many of whom came from a non-Adventist background. A group of anywhere from one hundred to two hundred singers became a part of the soul-winning program. At least twice every year an oratorio with orchestra and choir was rendered. This not only attracted the public but gave the musical organization a real challenge.
On my recent visit to Australia a faithful member attending the Adelaide camp meeting told me his experience of being in one of the chief's choirs. Then he naively said, "I never could understand why he wanted me in the choir, for when we first met I could hardly sing a note." I asked him, "Don't you really know the reason?" His response was negative. Then I told him that this was the chief's method of getting him into the truth.
During a period of ten years a careful account was kept of the non-Adventists who joined the choir, and the results showed that more than 95 per cent of them were later baptized. This method surely proves that singing is not just an adjunct to evangelism, it is evangelism in the highest sense!
A story of this type would not be complete unless I related a few personal experiences. My first contact with the chief was during a Week of Prayer held at Washington Missionary- College (now Columbia Union College) during the school year of 1941-1942. The musical part of the Week of Prayer revealed new songs such as "Spirit of the Living God," "There's a New Day Dawning," "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," "It Is Morning in My Heart," "He Lives," et cetera. We had never heard these songs before. The entire student body was lifted by song during and following this week of spiritual emphasis. My senior year found me in one of his classes in pastoral training. Here we were taught to do street preaching, first in the classroom and then outdoors. I remember helping to erect a Daniel 2 image under a tree in a Washington park. Some distance away another outdoor preacher was surrounded by a crowd of several hundred. But our arrival with the help of our image magnetized our competitor's crowd and in a short time we reigned supreme as far as numbers were concerned! Other training featured extemporaneous elocution. Five-minute speeches were assigned, the subject of which was announced to us while walking from our seat to the platform. To capture the results of this experiment on paper is impossible, only tape recordings could suffice.
Following graduation, I was assigned to be a part of his evangelistic team in a large campaign held in the key city of Cleveland, Ohio. A young intern does not begin to realize the impact made upon him by a successful evangelist until years later. No policy of the church could ever supersede that of placing young workers with older qualified ministers. This policy, if unswervingly followed, would assure success to many an intern who otherwise might become discouraged or accept mediocrity as a standard.
The vision I caught, the ideas, methods, and experience gained during the Cleveland evangelistic programs, helped me more than any theoretical classroom training. Perhaps the greatest enlightenment received was during the house-to-house visitation program patterned after the apostle Paul's method. The chief's tact, kindness, and patience helped me to realize the opportunity and value of personal work. Time after time we would be placed in difficult positions when a wrong answer could have lost a soul. To watch the skillful handling in bringing the concerned individuals to a decision has been one of the most precious experiences of my entire ministry.
As associate evangelist in the 1951 New York Carnegie Hall campaign more lessons were learned. The staggering perplexities and problems of this giant metropolis forced us to our knees time and time again. One unforgettable expression of the chief is, "Let's have some prayer." The load carried by him during these campaigns was extremely heavy. The physical endurance exhibited proved that he was more than an evangelist; he was a shepherd—a shepherd-evangelist. One of his philosophies was that every evangelist should be a shepherd or a pastor of the flock and every pastor should be an evangelist. True evangelism always springs from the shepherding instinct. His book The Shepherd-Evangelist centers on this theme.
Another strong feature of his evangelistic program was the use of visual aids. A large blackboard was ever an indispensable item (see picture). Not only did this hold the attention of the people, but it made the truth clear and plain. He played a major role in developing the cut-out type of visual aid such as the beasts of Daniel 7. Thousands who have been led by him through the waters of baptism can never forget the force of spoken words mingled with impressive eye-catching devices.
Besides the hundreds of articles for THE MINISTRY and other magazines, he has authored the books Unfolding the Revelation, Preachers of Righteousness, Secrets of the Spirit World, and The Shepherd-Evangelist. A full-message three-volume set for the public is now being printed by the Southern Publishing Association. In recognition of his theological contribution to the Adventist Church, Andrews University honored him by conferring the Doctor of Divinity degree upon him in 1964.
It is difficult to climax this brief and incomplete story of a person whose messages have gripped the hearts of both the earnest and the rebellious, and it is more difficult to say farewell to one who has inspired hundreds of young men to become ministers and to remain ministers. As Roy Allan Anderson leaves the Ministerial Association we realize something of the debt we owe him for his sympathetic, understanding heart. His coin of genius was not only his ability to preach and write, but his bigness of spirit, his capacity to love and accept a person as a person. Never vulgar, coarse, or rude. Ever ready to lend a sympathetic ear. Never capitalizing on others' failures. Always a true Christian gentleman.
If I were writing these words with no higher motivation than merely to extol and praise a human being, I would be condemned. But to intimately know the chief means you know One better for having known him.