"The main reason for the increase noted is owing to the new believers' tithe-paying from last year (1975) being registered in 1976. I expect this figure to continue to climb as the large number of folk baptized this year (1976) bring their tithes into the Lord's treasury. Just last week one new believer handed to me his first tithe check. It amounted to $5,000.
"I have no question but that public evangelism is the greatest and best single force of soul winning."
Pastor L. S. Rose, president of the South Queensland Conference, sends the following inspirational report:
"Returning home early in 1974 after twenty-four years of evangelistic service overseas, Pastor Ray Kent joined forces with seven city workers in reaching out for God in an evangelistic thrust in Brisbane. Through prayer and supplication and through various means of advertising, four thousand people at tended the opening weekend meetings.
"During the Easter season a man visiting the city of Brisbane was about to make a purchase from a city store, but before going inside he took from his pocket a handful of change to count. One coin dropped and rolled away down the footpath, coming to rest on a piece of paper. On picking up the coin he was attracted to the piece of paper it rested upon, which was an invitation to hear our Bible lecture on 'The Power Behind Black Magic.' The man had long searched for the meaning of life and for the reasons for it, as well as for truth concerning the future of this planet of ours. He attended, and from that time onward never missed a meeting. In fact, he often walked five miles each way to attend, and is now preparing for baptism.
"Twenty-five years ago a literature evangelist called on the Muir family with the books The Desire of Ages, God's Way Out, and some children's books. The children soon became well acquainted with these volumes, and after the children had grown up, the books were stored with others in the attic. There they remained for many years.
"One day a young Seventh-day Adventist man was carrying out some re pairs in the Muir home and began to talk about religious issues with Mrs. Muir. He gave her an invitation to at tend the Kent lectures. Mr. and Mrs. Muir did attend, and from the very first meeting their interest began to grow. One day they remembered the books in the attic. To their dismay, they found that through the years the mice had made their home in the attic. Rummaging around the torn-up books and papers, the Muir's were surprised to find The Desire of Ages untouched by the mice. Their interest in the lectures and God's protection over the book in the attic was an evidence to them that God was leading their family to accept His message."
Pastor Rose also brings to our attention the work of Pastor Gary Williams, who is preaching the message at Ipswich, which has a population of 56,000. In this country center we have an active church with a membership of 239. Be fore the year 1975 had ended, fifty people had surrendered to the Lord's leading.
Pastor Wood-Stotesbury, president of the North New Zealand Conference, re ports that 385 souls were brought into the church during 1975 in North New Zealand. The sense of urgency is noted in the challenge he made to the membership:
"At our last camp meeting the theme was 'So Send I You' and the challenge, Tell Ten Thousand.' Our dedicated constituency have pledged to reach more than ten thousand with the gospel mes sage, and our ministers have pledged to aim at five hundred baptisms in 1976." Pastor Stotesbury briefly pictures the evidence of the leading of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of believers as they go out seeking lost men and women.
"Literature Evangelist Henry Barnes called at a home in Whakatane. After purchasing The Great Controversy, Larry and Elspeth Davis read the book into the early hours of the morning, and then asked for Bible studies. The result was that they were soon baptized. They sold their house, Larry gave up his job, and now he is in the ranks of the literature evangelists."
From Henderson comes the story of 11-year-old Arlene Fraser and her friend Pauline Bayne. These dedicated youth knocked on two hundred doors and placed Bibles in eight homes. Within the Australasian Division we are constantly being made aware of the fact that God still speaks to men through the avenue of dreams. From the city of Albury, evangelist John Carter tells the following story concerning some people who came to his evangelistic program:
"The devout Jacobs family of six have decided for baptism. After attending the fifth lecture entitled 'Chariots to the Stars,' Mr. Jacobs had an impressive dream. He described to us how he saw upon the earth two groups of people. One group was large, and the other was small. With his wife and four children he stood with the large group until a hand reached down from heaven and lifted them and placed them with the small group. He woke mystified as to its meaning.
"With his family he continued to at tend the meetings, and the beautiful truths were gradually unfolded to him. Although he was ridiculed by his old associates, he decided that he could not be 'disobedient unto the heavenly vision.' Gladly the whole family decided to cast in their lot with the little company who are following the faith once delivered to the saints."
Last year in the Papua New Guinea Union Mission 4,883 souls were baptized. In this emerging nation the Adventist Church is seeing its most rapid growth today.
In the Western Pacific Union Mission many jewels are being claimed from the Solomon Islands and the New Hebrides. The president, Pastor Hay, writes:
"Major campaigns have recently concluded in Honiara, Solomon Islands, and in Vila, New Hebrides. One thousand people came out six nights a week for three weeks in Honiara to hear a health-and-Bible series conducted by Pastors Winch and Liversidge and assisted by national ministers. ... A large public effort is still underway in Santo, New Hebrides. Smaller public efforts are being conducted in many island centers and villages, with many baptisms already in some of these areas. Witnessing groups encouraged and trained by the ministry are making significant and growing contributions to baptism."
Pastor George Vandeman recently visited our division to conduct evangelism seminars in connection with the It Is Written program. These seminars created considerable interest in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. The president of the Greater Sydney Conference reports:
"On April 24 and 25, at the new Sydney Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, Pastors Vandeman and Knowles, supported by their seminar team, held the attention of 480 students on Saturday and 430 students on Sun day. Two hundred and twenty-five transferred to 15 regional programs. In addition to this, a considerable number who were unable to attend the seminar participated in regular home Bible studies. Eighteen weeks from the launching of this program, 135 nonmembers are still in regular attendance at regular seminars, and many of these are now attending church services.
"For the first time the Sydney Opera House was used for an evangelistic pro gram by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pastor D. K. Down, twenty-five years a missionary to India, on his re turn to the homeland conducted a series of lectures in the music room of the Sydney Opera House, which has a capacity of 400 people.
"Public evangelism must ever be the vanguard of the church's operation, and in the Australasian Division we are very conscious that it is for the purpose of such preaching that God has brought this church into existence. The Lord is coming, and the keynote of the Advent message to the world must be to 'Prepare to meet thy God.'"