THE apostles were together on the day of Pentecost and we are told they were of one accord. They were praying for the promised Holy Ghost. And it came as it always will if our hearts are right and we are united. Each disciple received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and they each spoke a language that could be understood by those around them.'All in Jerusalem heard the message of the crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour.
Peter continued preaching and declaring Christ unto those assembled until they cried out: "What shall we do?" Peter's reply was simple and to the point, "Repent, and be baptized." "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:37, 38, 41).
But the soul winning did not end there. God has a continuous work for His followers to do. "To everyone who becomes a partaker of His grace the Lord appoints a work for others."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 148. All who are consecrated to God are channels of light. "God makes them instruments of righteousness to communicate to others the light of truth."—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 632. The disciples continued to share their faith—to preach the Word. It happened then as it will happen today if God's ministers and God's people unite with one accord in sharing the faith with which they are entrusted. The Lord will add "to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
20th Century Acts of the Apostles
We have just prepared a chapter of the twentieth-century book of acts covering the accomplishments in soul winning in North America for the year 1966. We rejoice that 21,807 souls were received during this year by baptism and profession of faith, into God's remnant church. This was 5.7 per cent gross increase in membership. The Chesapeake Conference had the highest gross increase in membership with 12.7 per cent. The accompanying table of statistics will give the number of new converts and the per cent of gross increase for each conference in North America.
"Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. "There is nothing that the world needs so much as the manifestation through humanity of the Saviour's love. All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts."—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 419.
17.5 for I Soul
We compiled statistics also, conference by conference, on how many members it took to win one new convert. On the average, for North America, it took 17.5 church members to win one soul. Here again the Chesapeake Conference, which led in baptisms in relation to church members at the beginning of the year, had the best showing, with one new convert for just less than 8 members. As we study these figures, we no doubt will wonder, Couldn't we who are members of God's remnant church lead more souls to Christ? How wonderful it would be if every minister would organize his church, as the Lord has counseled, so that the members could go out two by two and each couple win one. With God's help we could do it. If we did we would have more than 190,000 new souls in one year in North America.
50 Percent Gross Gain!
After preparing this report an encouraging bit of news came to my attention:
A few months ago a little church of twenty-six members using "Your Bible Speaks Plan" challenged God's promises to make the members soul winners for Him. They visited their neighbors. They left Bibles and the first two lessons with those who expressed an interest. They went back the following week and picked up the two completed lessons and left two more. By the time they had made twelve visits they had made many friends. Some were coming to church and studying their Bibles more. Already thirteen persons have been baptized as a result, which is a 50 per cent gross gain in church membership. Others are preparing for baptism. God will use our members if we organize them and they submit themselves to God.
What a potential we have with God's help. Let us pray for a new zeal for souls. May God open our eyes to see what He sees. Workers and members alike need a new vision of God's plan for HiS work. "Christ sees a plentiful harvest waiting to be gathered in. Souls are hungering for the truth....Many are on the very verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in."—Temperance, p. 258.
(See pdf for graph figures)