THE year 1966 is now history. Many doors hitherto closed were opened to us during 1966. The Vatican opened millions of minds to the privileges of Bible study, as the reading of the Scriptures and other religious books was declared to be an acceptable practice. In the United States many leading Catholic publications now advertise Adventist literature. And in lands where the preaching of the Word 'has gone slowly, there are sudden and dramatic changes taking place. Hundreds now listen who have previously turned a deaf ear. This is truly the day of the Lord's power and of unprecedented opportunity.
Iran and Vietnam
From the country of Iran, Kenneth Harding has preached nightly to overflow crowds in our church close to the Turkish-Russian border. Milton Lee held a campaign in Saigon, Vietnam. Exploding shells could be heard in the background, but our faithful brother preached on and lived to see Buddhists cast down their altars and surrender their lives to Christ and take their stand for the right.
And from the Catholic Philippines the news is inspiring. L. E. Montana was conducting a campaign in Cebu City. The crowds flocked to hear him preach night by night. A priest, observing the large attendance, said, "I'm afraid that we will lose 200 of our members as a result of these meetings." He proved to be a true prophet. He lost 214.
In the land of the Reformation, 12 ministers and 36 literature evangelists banded together to sow the seed of truth in 20 small villages.
Matching Vision With Reality
From Rome, the land of martyrdom for evangelists Peter and Paul, within the shadow of the Vatican there was a fine Catholic woman, a singer at the Opera Theater. She dreamed one evening that she saw a church. As she entered it people were singing a song. It was unfamiliar to her but in her dream she learned its words. Eight years later she entered the Seventh-day Adventist church, and the people were singing that same song. Matching vision with reality, she became a baptized member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
And who can read the Central African Union report of 34 ministers, baptizing more than 100 souls per minister, and of L. E. Gatorano, with 451 baptisms, and not exclaim, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"
From Sweden comes the good word, "This year we have doubled our baptisms' total as compared with last year." Incidentally, the president of the field opened a campaign in Sweden on January 14.
From difficult London, more than 100 baptisms for the year; and Inter-America and South America provide their usual inspiring reports.
It was a good year, and I am sure that you will rejoice with me in the blessings of God on His work and workers. Many of the men here listed have joined the CENTURY ranks for the first time. We congratulate you and sincerely hope that this will become for you an annual habit. We recognize that every man of the Century Group owes a definite debt of gratitude to fellow workers and laymen who have played an important part in finding and preparing souls for baptism. The following are those who baptized 100 souls or more under God during the year 1966:
(See pdf for the complete list)
Of great significance to this report is the large number of ministers who conducted public evangelistic campaigns for the first time. Harold Kibble had this experience in the year 1966 in a difficult little city known as Bridgeport, Connecticut. Forty souls were baptized. Then there was Stephen Lewis in virgin territory who went into the little town of Charleston, Missouri. He baptized 47 people in his first campaign. No satisfaction exceeds that of a minister baptizing a soul into Christ. There is no substitute for this work in the life of a gospel minister, and he can never be really happy unless he has a renewal of this experience frequently. The following men had their battle nerves tested for the first time in the year 1966:
(See pdf for the complete list)
The year 1966 was a good year for the Lord in public evangelism, but I am sure we all recognize that measuring our results by our opportunities we have not yet scratched the surface of the world population in terms of gospel exposure. It would appear that the challenge of 1967 will be continued public evangelism but with a new element added. With the church membership-nonmembership ratio being in such frightening imbalance, it looks as though we will need more feet pounding the pavements and more hands knocking on doors to communicate the message as we preach it publicly. In short, each minister has a solemn obligation to his membership to commit them to some form of missionary service on a sustaining basis within the year 1967.
Our Greatest Weakness
Our greatest weakness is an idle laity. Somehow our people must be convinced by our earnestness that their soul salvation is at stake in this matter of gospel communication. We must disabuse the minds of our dear believers of the notion that simply by paying and praying they are discharging their total duty toward the cause of God. Thank God, signs of this awareness are even now appearing. For years in the Trans-Africa Division laymen have been foremost in the transmission of the gospel to their unsaved neighbors, but now in North America the challenge has been received.
Administrators and Evangelism
We have moved into the era of total evangelism. It has been heartening to hear men who bear the burdensome responsibilities of administration announce their intention either to run a public campaign within the calendar year 1967 or involve themselves with men who are running such campaigns for as much time as circumstances will allow.
Let's Get Out of This World!
Following the example of the General Conference president, who is conducting a campaign in Wilmington, Delaware, this year, a number of the General Conference staff are running short campaigns within the calendar year. One just returned from such a meeting with a report of 50 baptized and 20 more studying. In short, let's get out of this world! We are living on borrowed time. The total resources of the church must be committed to this final push in time's last hour. The pen of the prophet is traced to the glorious future of the church united in action and totally committed. The baptism of the Holy Ghost cannot be withheld from a man or a movement who are thus committed.
May the close of the year 1967 find us as workers "fair as the moon, clear as the stars, and terrible as an army with banners."