Wonders of the Ancient World

A ministerial intern relates his oversees experience.

Dennis Clark is an intern in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.

DURING THE final quarter of my seminary training at Andrews University I was privileged to participate in a field school of evangelism. These field schools provide students with much-needed practical experience and training and are held by evangelists of experience in various cities of North America and sometimes overseas. I chose the one held in Hamilton, Ontario, by Orley Berg. Elder Berg uses archeology as an integral part of his presentations. I found his method to be carefully thought out, smooth, interesting, and powerful in persuasion.

In evangelism, different methods must be used, for different classes of people need to be reached. The archeological approach used by Pastor Berg, though appealing to most everyone, is designed especially for those who would not ordinarily come to a religious meeting, or who would not, under ordinary circumstances, come to a meeting held by a church other than their own. The meetings themselves are most productive when held in a facility other than the Seventh-day Adventist church. In Hamilton, we had the use of a splendid theater-type auditorium at a local college.

Nightly Schedule

The lecture series ran for five weeks with meetings nightly except for Monday and Thursday nights. Monday night was used for evening visitation and Thursday was the team's day off. The lectures began Sunday, July 21, with two sessions—one at four in the afternoon and the other at seven-thirty. The main floor, seating about seven hundred, was well filled for both sessions, with some using the balcony. The series would normally have begun with two sessions on Saturday, but the theater was not available.

Each team member was expected to be at the auditorium early in order to meet and welcome the people as they entered. This became increasingly important as the series progressed. Each would try to spot the interested folks that he was visiting with in his area. A record of their attendance was always kept.

The wives of the team members tended the tables and assisted the people in finding books for which an interest had been developed. They also helped in greeting the people and spotting the interests.

Right at seven-thirty without any preliminaries other than a brief introduction and welcome, the lecture and pictures on archeology began. Around eight-ten there was a brief intermission at which time the pastor made necessary announcements and called for the offering. The speaker appeared again as the lights were dimmed and the second part of the lecture followed. Before nine o'clock, the people were usually on their way home.

The following morning, as the team of students met with the evangelist and pastors for class, one of the first things done was to evaluate the previous night's pro gram. Also, during this time we updated the master file with all the information gleaned from the previous day's visitation. Team members reported on the visits made, and the responses of the people. Following this the evangelist led out in formal instruction relating to all phases of evangelism.

Structure of the Series

The program was structured in a smooth and persuasive manner. The first three lectures were on Egypt—"The Wonders of the Pyramids," "900 Miles Up the Nile" and "The Discovery of King Tut's Treasures."

These were not only good drawing cards, but formed a natural introduction to the series itself— advertised on handbills, in the newspapers, and on radio and TV as "Wonders of the Ancient World." During these three lectures, little is said about religion, except for references to the ancient Egyptians' belief in the after life and the prominence of sun worship as revealed in the re mains of their temples and tombs. Later, when the doctrines of the Sabbath and the state of the dead were presented, the material contained in these early lectures was again drawn upon.

Beginning with the first night the 43-page booklet "Wonders of Egypt" was sold. Written by Pas tor Berg, it contains the first three lectures of the series. This gave the people something to read at home and helped intensify their interest.

The next three lectures formed another unit. The fourth, "Digging Up History," surveyed the history of archeology, illustrating how archeology illuminates and con firms the Bible. To illustrate this point, the story of William F. Albright was related. (See The Ministry, February, 1973.) On this night, a second booklet, "Wonders of Archeology," went on sale. Its 72 pages contain lectures four, five, and six in amplified form, thus enlarging upon the subjects presented.

The fifth topic, "Fantastic Finds in Ancient Babylon," focused on the book of Daniel, showing how archeology and prophecy combine to confirm its early dating and historical accuracy. Illustrations were drawn from Daniel 2, 7, and 8. At the close of this lecture, a poll was taken on the topic of "What the Bible Means to Me." The card lists statements to which those present respond.

With the sixth lecture, "Discovery at Sinai," the series turned (1) Larry Milliken, Hamilton; Orley Berg; Victor Shipowick, Paris; and Orville Parchment, associate of Pastor Milliken, study the territory. (2) The evangelism field school in session. (3) Orville Parchment, left, and Dennis Clark checking interest cards. (4) The Mohawk Junior College Theater where the lectures were held. (5) Members of the evangelistic team. (6) Team members in prayer before lecture begins even more Biblical as the events of Sinai were presented, including law, grace, the sanctuary, and the gospel. This early theme of law and grace was often repeated during the course of the series so the people understood clearly that Seventh-day Adventists believe in salvation by grace.

Presenting Christ

To this point, there were no public prayers in the meetings. The lectures are structured in such a way as to subtly draw people's attention to the Bible. After the sixth lecture a turning point in the series was reached. The next three were on Palestine, focusing on those areas identified most closely with the life of Christ. The speaker began the seventh evening with an invocational prayer.

The seventh topic, "This Is Palestine," traced the life of Christ through His baptism and early ministry. The geography of Pales tine was shown, with special emphasis being given to those cities that Jesus would have visited. The prophecies of Jesus' birth were presented, and His pre-existence and deity discussed.

The following night the areas of Jesus' Galilean ministry were portrayed, with emphasis being given to Jesus' talk with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, and His conversation with Nicodemus. In this context the elements of true conversion were presented.

The ninth night dealt exclusively with Jerusalem, giving its history from the time of David. Now the 70-weeks prophecy, the cross, the resurrection, and the second advent of Christ were all introduced. After this lecture, a second poll entitled "What I Think of Jesus" was taken.

With the seventh lecture, a Book Award card was given out and the people were instructed that they would receive the book The Desire of Ages for five numbers punched on the card, a number for each lecture attended. This book tied in very nicely with the lectures on the life of Christ and started them on their way to get ting acquainted with the writings of Ellen G. White.

Prior to this point, the whole evening had been focused on the historical and archeological sites, but now from seven-thirty until the intermission, the emphasis on exploring the wonders of the ancient past continued, but after the intermission the presentation developed into an unfolding of the distinctive messages of our church, all fully illustrated with slides. Usually, there was a very close tie-in between the archeological and the Biblical subjects. It was also at this time that a benediction was added to the nightly program, thus helping to provide a smooth transition to the more religious nature of the program.

As might be expected, as these transitions were made and the topics became more Biblical and evangelical, some ceased to at tend, but those who continued to come represented good interests with whom the team could personally labor.

The Three Angels' Messages

The tenth lecture featured Qumran and the Dead Sea scrolls, with re-emphasis on the importance of the Bible as the Word of Cod and its power to change lives. The second part of the lecture featured an introduction to the book of Revelation and the three angels' messages. Beginning with this presentation, out lines entitled "Wonders of the Bible" were given out nightly. These were tied to the Bible subjects covered.

The next lecture on the destruction, loss, and rediscovery of Pompeii led very nicely into the first angel's message and its emphasis on the judgment and the 2300 days. Following this, "Petra, the World's Strangest City," with its high place and sun worship formed a bridge on the subject of the Sabbath. The lecture on Petra drew considerable attention and was one of the best attended. On this evening the third card, "God's True Sign of Creation," was given out, and a response called for.

Since Petra was the capital of the Nabatean kingdom, this topic provided an introduction to the next night's topic, "The Amazing Nabateans." The same evening Revelation 10 was presented under the title "The Greatest Religious Movement Since Pentecost." Pastor Berg pointed out the parallel between the great disappointment of 1844 and the disappointment that came to the disciples when Jesus was crucified.

In the fourteenth night's topic, "Babylon—Wonder City of the Ancient World," the history of Babylon was portrayed, with emphasis on church-state union and sun worship. This laid the foundation for the study of the second angel's message, and the first beast of Revelation 13.

Bible Seminar

The next day, Sabbath, the first of three Bible Seminars was held. As an extra incentive to attend, a copy of Bible Readings was offered to all who would attend. It began at 10:00 a.m., with a Mission Spotlight program.

Pastors Berg and Larry Milliken shared in the presentations, which included an introduction to the Bible and how it should be studied, a review of some of the "Wonders of the Bible" outlines, personal testimonies of new converts, and a thorough study of the 2300 days and the providences associated with the rise of the Advent Movement.

At 3:30 p.m., the people were invited to come over to the church and witness a baptism. Most of those baptized at this time had studied with the pastor previous to the meetings.

That evening's subject was "America-1776." The U.S. in prophecy, including the mark of the beast, was presented and a fourth decision card was used.

The sixteenth night, "Gods and Temples of the East" prepared the way for the Bible topic on angels, the origin of evil, Satan worship and the occult. Following this, the presentation entitled "Pilgrim age to Rome," showed the striking relationship between pagan Rome and papal Rome, and tied into the study of spiritualism and the state of the dead. On the succeeding nights, "Space Flight and the Future" was coupled with the millennium, and "Hallowed Caves Mid Alpine Peaks," with the story of the Waldenses, formed an introduction to Revelation 12 and a discussion of the true church. On this night a card, "The Movement of Prophecy," was used.

The next day the second Sabbath Bible Seminar was held. The principal subject covered was the millennium, including the Second Advent, the state of the dead, and the punishment of the wicked. Another Mission Spotlight, as well as the health film I'm Sorry, Baby (which points up the evils of smoking), was shown. That night "The Oracles of Delphi" formed a bridge to the Bible topic on modern prophets and Ellen G. White.

Following this, "Digging Up the Cities of Solomon" turned attention to Megiddo and the Bible presentation on Armageddon, and "Miracles All Around the World" brought stories of the Advent Movement. A fifth card, "Call Out of Babylon," was used to register decisions.

Instead of slides for the first part of the twenty-third night, the meeting began with the movie The Arrow of Prophecy, which fitted perfectly into the series at this point. The lecture was on the work of the Holy Spirit, and the importance of following truth.

The next presentation, "Foot steps of MacArthur in the Philip pines," was followed by the Biblical message on the seven last plagues. The rescue of American prisoners from the Las Banos prison camp was used to illustrate the final deliverance of the saints at the Second Coming.

The final Sabbath found many new folks in the church, and a baptism formed an important part of the service. The third Bible Seminar met in the afternoon at the church rather than at the theater as previously. Now the Spirit of Prophecy became the focus of attention, with particular emphasis on the relationship of Ellen White to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Also discussed were the organizational structure of the church, tithing, and the communion service, with special attention given to the ordinance of footwashing.

That evening's lecture on "Baal bek—Sun City of Phoenicia," formed a good bridge to "The Elijah Message," which followed. The last meeting of the series, Sunday night, was held in the church. The topic, "Masada— Spectacular Fortress of Herod," spoke of the unparalleled bravery of the 966 Jews who, in A.D. 73, preferred suicide to surrender. The Bible message was based on 2 Peter 1—"The Last Words of Saint Peter." Prior to the meeting, there was another baptism, which included several who had no previous contact with Adventists before the meetings began; also a number of new decisions to unite with the church were made.

No matter how interesting and valid the structure might be, all of us on the team were kept well aware of the essential nature of the work of the Holy Spirit if our efforts were to succeed. Each morning before the formal class began, we would have a brief devotional message and a season of prayer. Then, at the end of the class period we would break up into prayer bands. Each night be fore the meeting began, as many as possible of the team would gather together to pray.

Visitation

Visitation also plays an essential part in evangelistic success. The seminary students were divided into pairs, with each pair being given a certain part of the city as their mission field.

During the first two weeks, visitation concentrated on inviting people to the lectures. Later, it focused on those attending. After the lecture on the Sabbath we made it a point to visit every person who attended, and to each was given a copy of the booklet The Repairing of Sam Brown. Either Pastor Berg or Pastor Milliken accompanied the teams that visited the better interests.

There are many strengths that make this method of evangelism effective. Archeology is a good attendance builder and draws many who would not ordinarily attend Adventist evangelistic services. The offerings were liberal, averaging well over $100 per night for the twenty-six nights. Although it may take some who are drawn to this type of meeting a little longer to prepare for baptism, they become some of the strongest witnesses and supporters of the church.


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Dennis Clark is an intern in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.

January 1975

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