EVER since the Advent seed was planted in this little island of Jamaica, approximately fifty miles wide and one hundred and fifty miles long, there has been a glorious chapter of evangelistic exploits.
It will perhaps surprise many readers to know that the last large evangelistic series of meetings conducted here in a tent was in the year 1949, but this has not retarded the evangelistic zeal of our ministers. Every church has been an evangelistic center and every minister an evangelist. Each convert has been a missionary carrying the good news to his neighbor.
One Out of Forty
Today we have one Seventh-day Adventist to every forty persons on the island and if our churches were placed on a straight line there would be a church every half mile. It took forty years to reach the first ten thousand in membership, ten years for the second, six years for the third, and five years for the fourth. Today we have more than forty thousand baptized members on this little island.
Open Every Sunday Evening
The torch of evangelism was lighted by the early pioneers of this movement, and it would appear that the torch has been kept steadily burning. Every Sunday evening the doors of our churches are open to visitors and the message is geared to lead souls to a decision. Many individuals who would neglect attending their own church, find themselves at a Seventh-day Adventist church service. Baptismal services are specially planned with visitors in mind In our large metropolitan areas a Sunday evening baptism is a beautiful sight to behold. The church is always attractively decorated and visitors take pleasure in attending this service.
After a special sermon is presented on the significance of this rite, and the candidates are immersed, the minister extends an invitation to those who have not yet been baptized to come forward, thus indicating their desire to be numbered in a future baptism. These individuals form the nucleus of a new baptismal group. I have witnessed as many as seventy-five and more come forward at baptismal services.
Conventions also are made evangelical, especially the devotional feature. It is not unusual to see as many as one hundred visitors responding to an appeal at a Sunday morning convention.
One Every Year
We must not minimize public efforts, because every minister accepts this as his charge to the gospel ministry. Each district pastor conducts at least one major campaign of six weeks' or more duration in a church, booth, or tabernacle during the year. Administrators and departmental secretaries also conduct such meetings of at least three weeks' duration. Then we have a group of energetic laymen who invariably find the time and place to conduct some meetings.
Since January of this year one of our ministers, Pastor Basil Henry, conducted a major effort in a church seating about 200. In spite of the restrictions he had as a result of unfavorable weather, he has already baptized forty, and expects another ten.
Another example of evangelism can be found in the West Jamaica Conference where Pastor Ernie Wright conducted a series of evangelistic meetings in an unfinished church buildink. He has already baptized more than one hundred persons in the first half of this year.
The branch Sabbath school is another evangelistic medium. Many of our converts can trace their interest in Adventism to a branch Sabbath school conducted in some remote community. Some of these schools are conducted a few miles from the mother church, and before very long a church or company is raised up.
Each year approximately 3,000 new converts are baptized by these various methods. The constituency of the West Indies Union has taken seriously the words from the servant of the Lord:
The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.—Gospel Workers, p. 352.
We must pay tribute to the noble pioneers and leaders who laid a good foundation. During the administration of Pastor R. H. Pierson, who was the president of the then British West Indies Union, an evangelistic thrust was given to this territory and it is still bearing fruit.