THE year 1969 was the best year yet for public evangelism in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. From every division revelations of spiritual miracles pour into the office. Pen and ink cannot do justice to these stories. No language yet invented can en compass the scope of the miracle. The Australasian Division reports 6,512 baptisms.
In the Central European Division 979 persons entered the portals of the church by baptism, and forty-three administrators united with pastors to make possible this outstanding result.
The Far Eastern Division reports 18,368 baptisms for the year 1969. One person baptized more than 300; four baptized more than 200; twenty-eight baptized more than 100, and fifty baptized more than 50 persons. One hundred and twenty-three administrators engaged in evangelism.
In the Inter-American Division, the division with the largest number of centurions, 27,618 baptisms are reported. Three men baptized more than 300; twelve baptized more than 200; seventy-seven baptized more than 100; ninety-two baptized more than 50, and thirty administrators joined in the evangelistic thrust personally.
In that difficult Middle East Division there were 493 baptisms into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1969. One man baptized more than 200 believers and two baptized more than 50, while twenty administrators joined with their working force to produce this outstanding result.
In North America in 1969, 25,295 persons were baptized into the church. Three men baptized more than 300; six baptized more than 200; twenty-one baptized more than 100, and forty-one baptized more than 50. But a record number of 225 administrators engaged in some form of personal or public evangelism within the year. This is easily America's most outstanding year, and we say, "To God be the glory!"
The Northern European Division reports 7,970 baptisms for the year 1969. One person baptized more than 200; six baptized more than 100; nine baptized more than 50; and nine administrators engaged in public or personal evangelistic endeavors.
The South American Division reports 33,653 baptisms for the year 1969. Six men baptized more than 300 persons, and among them Eduardo Castro baptized 702, Raymundo Tancara baptized 627, and Ruben Flores baptized 607. Eleven ministers baptized more than 200; forty-four baptized more than 100; and sixty-five baptized more than 50. Twenty-five administrators engaged in the evangelistic exercise.
The Southern Asia Division baptized 7,681 persons in 1969. This is by far their highest annual baptismal report. Of this number T. J. S. Fredarichs baptized 421 and A. Dason 203. Ten others baptized more than 100. This is a miracle in view of the fact that India has through the years been such a difficult field of labor.
The Southern European Division re ports 7,486 baptisms for the year 1969. Two men baptized more than 300; four baptized more than 100; and five baptized more than 50. This has long been a conservative area and we thank God for the excess of 7,000 baptisms for 1969.
Finally, the Trans-Africa Division. They report 35,214 baptisms for the year 1969. Seven men baptized more than 200; fifty-four baptized more than 100; and one hundred and eighteen men baptized more than 50 persons. Fifty administrators engaged personally in the grand enterprise of soul winning.
If you want to kill a church, let that church forget its mission. Obviously, from this report we have not forgotten ours, but there is the ever-present danger that this might one day happen. Other denominations started out red-hot with evangelistic passion and finally settled down to a form of institutionalism that has robbed them of their very lives. Any time a denomination exists for the purpose of self-perpetuation, it has already lost its soul. We must, there fore, resist with all vigilance and might the natural trend of institutionalism that naturally comes with growth.
What has been accomplished unto God in 1969 is a tribute to the presence of the Holy Spirit, to the dedicated men and women among us, and to the willingness of administrators to commit themselves and the means of the church to the grand cause of soul winning. But the days ahead will be more difficult, and there is a crying need for more ministers to commit them selves to some form of public or personal evangelism. It is a sad but lamentable fact that some men were so overcharged with administrative problems that they were not able to get into an organized program of soul winning in 1969. The year 1970 must be different, and with the help of the Lord it will be different.
Then there is the vast army of laity, many of whom are active in a soul-winning endeavor. But there are many more who, though faithfully supporting this movement through prayer and church attendance, are doing nothing in personal soul winning in their neighborhoods. This is our corporate sin, that though we are possessors of great truths, literally thousands of our people are doing little in a personal way to communicate that light to others. It seems to me that we can try pulpit promotion until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa, devoid of dew and rain, and our people will still come and go like a gate on rusty hinges, paying little attention to our earnest pleadings.
What is needed now is a worldwide canvass of our membership with reference to personal commitment to soul-winning endeavor. We must indeed activate all of our members, young and old, to the great task of soul winning. The times demand it. The end of the world is upon us. The sands in the hour glass are almost run out. Christ expects it of us. We cannot, we must not, we will not, fail.