A PIECE of Eden planted on a Danish M fjord was graced by the presence of 370 Scandinavian Adventist workers, wives, and children. At our Vejlefjord Danish Junior College, the ministers of the West Nordic Union and Swedish Union met for a six-day evangelistic council. Although these two unions had united in workers' meetings on several occasions before, this was the first time in history they had united as families.
The combined school and youth camp facilities were ideal for such a large gathering.
The early August weather blessed us with continuous sunshine. Symbolic of the soul-winning theme of the council were the school's ripening wheat fields sprawled over the gently rolling hills. The wheat's heavy, golden heads begged to be garnered in. What a picture of the thousands of sincere souls scattered from above the Arctic Circle to Germany's border who wait for the Holy Spirit to send the reapers. Yet, there is a more challenging picture found in this same area. It is a picture of the more than 16 million other souls who need to have the opportunity of hearing the Adventist message. Scandinavia is strongly held in the arms of Lutheranism, the state church, a fact that cannot halt the spread of God's last-day message if our church makes determined, well-laid plans for evangelism. And this is exactly what our leaders are in the process of doing.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of progress was this meeting with a group of men who were planning to step out and hold for the first time, major public evangelistic meetings. Formerly these men of experience had been conducting campaigns only in their local churches, but their faith had been enlarged to the point where they were entering into large-scale public work. John Coltheart, division Ministerial Association secretary, had recently conducted a most successful campaign in Sweden's capital, Stockholm. This meeting proved that it was possible for Adventists to get a hearing. Many of our younger men had found additional courage to believe that new evangelistic methods, plus hard work, would prove effective.
Leadership With Vision
W. Duncan Eva, division president, has had a dream that is finally turning into reality. A sense of the need of reviving public evangelism, especially in the larger cities, has led him to recommend John F. Coltheart to the division committee as the new Ministerial Association secretary. Pastor Coltheart's main responsibilities are the fostering and training of men for public evangelism throughout the Northern European Division.
Jens Madsen, West Nordic Union president, has lined up Pastor Coltheart with a team of men to conduct a major campaign in Bergen, Norway, this fall. Kaj Pedersen, of Denmark, is in the midst of the largest public meeting ever to be held in the famous capital of Copenhagen. We salute these men for their vision and energy in laying big plans for the public presentation of our message. They need our prayers, not our criticisms. It is our conviction that Pastor Madsen, along with his local presidents, is going to place not just more emphasis, but the greatest emphasis Scandinavia has ever witnessed, on evangelism. We believe the next General Conference session, if there is one, will prove the wisdom of this emphasis.
The Swedish Union president, Odd Jordal, has his feet on the ground and his head in evangelism. During the Stockholm campaign he Made it his personal business to copy all of Pastor Coltheart's material for distribution among all the ministers in both the Swedish and the West -Nordic unions. We salute this union for taking steps to put more men in the field. This has been accomplished by combining two of the three Swedish conferences into one. It is believed this move will provide more men, and money for direct soul-winning activities. We pray God's blessing upon this venture.
The evangelistic activities of some departmental men in Scandinavia were most heartening. Each man carries several departments but he still finds time for engaging in public meetings.
We also salute the women Bible instructors in these two unions. These faithful workers are instrumental in bringing many souls into the church. Our church in all countries is in desperate need of taking definite steps that will encourage consecrated young women to dedicate their talents to the work of soul winning.
Time was spent discussing a coordinated evangelistic program. If a plan like this is religiously followed, it is our conviction that in a short while these two unions will double their 1967 baptismal record of 396. Would doubling this number be too much to expect from a total membership of more than 13,000 led by a force of ordained and licensed ministers, credentialed and licensed Bible instructors, totaling 123, to say nothing of literature evangelists, institutional workers, and others?
Our next stop was Saunaland. Finland, noted for its sauna baths, was another delight to the eye. God's love revealed in nature couldn't be more impressive than it is in Finland. The warmth of its saunas was matched by the fellowship of its people. The Kallionime youth camp near Jyvaskyla, on one of Finland's more than sixty thousand lakes, was a fairyland of beauty. Next to tiny Iceland, Finland has more Adventists per capita than any other field in the Northern European Division. The union president, W. E. Aittala, is laying strong plans to support Pastor Coltheart with both men and means in the forthcoming city-wide campaign in Helsinki.
Finland's rapid cultural and economic advance has made public evangelism much more difficult than in the past. Today new methods, new approaches, as counseled by the Spirit of Prophecy, must be used if the 1967 baptismal record of 190 is to be greatly surpassed. We believe this will be done.
One impression Pastor Coltheart and I received was of the fervor exhibited by our Finnish workers. More earnest prayers and testimonies could not be heard anywhere. Of course, our famous lady preachers are a wonder to the Advent world. Elsa Luukkanen, dean of women preachers, made a deep impression on our church members in America several years ago. She, along with other brave Finnish women, is still publicly proclaiming this truth. In short, our entire working force in Finland, with renewed dedication, is determined to put direct soul winning at the top of their activities.
What would a trip to Finland be without trying a sauna? Finland cannot be disassociated from Sibelius and saunas. Try to imagine yourself sitting in a wood-paneled room heated by a stove containing a core of fiery stones. Watch the temperature soar to over 200° F. Beat your body with a clump of birch switches. Then, when you feel as if your skin has reached the boiling point, you dash out to the freezing-cold lake and plunge in. Repeat this process about four times, and you find your mental and physical capacities thoroughly subdued. We took these baths just- before retiring. To take one before preaching would render our ministry quite ineffective! If our nervous world would only use saunas instead of tranquilizers, what a blessing it would be! As for us, we are sold on saunas. We couldn't recommend them more highly.
This report would not be complete without mentioning a bit about our traveling companion, John Coltheart. He eats, sleeps, and drinks evangelism! His heart must look like an evangelistic handbill. At places where we stayed together in the same room, we wondered at times if we would get any sleep. Our numerous walks through hill and dale were laced with ideas, suggestions, and discussions centering on the business of soul winning. John has a knack for slanting everything toward soul winning. Little wonder he has made evangelism a real science. His scrupulous attention to even the smallest details connected with a campaign is an indication why the Lord has blessed his efforts. His good wife, Raye, stands beside him, laboring untiringly for the success of every campaign.
In the next issue, we will conclude our report with an account of our work in Iceland, England, and Poland.
J. R. S.