How to Finish the Work of Warning the World
I was at yet another youth conference. On the campus of Southern Adventist University, seminar speakers came up on the platform of the Gymnasium to talk about the seminar they would present. This year the seminar that got my attention was based on how to carry the gospel to the world. I almost didn’t go, but it had my curiosity. I asked the speaker for his notes after the first presentation which came from a talk Ellen White gave in Mountain View, California. I didn’t read through that talk for another two years. The contents slipped the foreground of my mind and laid dormant for some time.
Another aspect of evangelism I discovered at Ouachita Hills College during my first semester there. We had a guest speaker come for a few days named Dave Fiedler who taught a couple of Eugene Prewitt’s classes. It was during our Philosophy of Adventist Education class that Mr. Fiedler shared with us the importance of working the cities. It wasn’t for another year until I got to see a live demonstration of the plan in action when I visited Wichita, and then it clicked both talks were related.
I often wondered how will we ever finish the work. Have you ever wondered the same? I have news for you; our Commander from on high gave us a plan to execute. There are several reasons the third angel’s message has not spread to all the world, and this is one of them. We have not followed the plan for spreading the message. The purpose of this article is an appeal to all of those interested in finishing this work to speed up its close within our lifetimes by following the divine plan.
You might ask, what is the plan? It is outlined in the North Pacific Union Gleaner April 13, 1910 (emphasis provided is mine):
Some have expressed a desire during this conference to send a large amount of means to China for the support of the work in that country. It is right and proper that means be sent to China. God’s people are to act their part faithfully in warning that field, and many other fields in various parts of the earth. Already a beginning has been made in many important mission fields in the regions beyond, and God is giving his servants some measure of success in winning souls. As the workers advance in faith, they will find that the Lord is going before them by his Holy Spirit, preparing the hearts of many to listen to the truths presented.
But while plans are being carried out to warn the inhabitants of various nations in distant lands, what is being done in behalf of the foreigners who have come to the shores of our own land? Are the souls in China any more precious than the souls within the shadow of our doors? God’s people are to labor faithfully in distant lands, as his providence may open the way; and they are also to fulfill their duty toward the foreigners of various nationalities in the cities close by.
Those in responsibility must now plan wisely to proclaim the third angel’s message to the hundreds of thousands of foreigners in the cities of America.
God desires his servants to do their full duty toward the unwarned inhabitants of the cities, and especially toward those who have come to these cities from the various nations of the earth. Many of these foreigners are here in the providence of God, that they may have opportunity to hear the truth for this time, and receive a preparation that will fit them to return to their own lands as bearers of precious light shining direct from the throne of God.
Although the needs of the great centers of population have been presented before our people over and over again, yet comparatively little has been done. Who is answerable for this neglect? Brethren, consider how you can ever expect to be clear in the sight of a just and holy God if you leave these cities unwarned? Very few of the ministers are carrying forward strong, aggressive work in these large centers where so many thousands are in need of the saving truths we have to proclaim. The means that should be used to carry the message to the cities, seems to be taken away and used where it perhaps ought not to be used. But where is seen a burden in behalf of these cities that have long been pointed out as places that must be worked without delay? Who will take up the burden of this work? Who will labor faithfully to set a right example before the inhabitants of our centers of population?
It almost seems as if scarcely any one dare ask a worker to go into the cities, because of the means that would be required to carry on a strong, solid work. It is true that much means will be required in order to do our duty toward the unwarned in these places; and God desires us to lift our voices and our influence in favor of using means wisely in this special line of effort. Over and over again has been repeated the message, “Go out into the highways and the byways, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” This is a work God’s people must take hold of; for it is a work that must be done.
In this effort in behalf of the cities, all classes of laborers may co-operate to advantage. Especially valuable is the help that the physician may render as an evangelist. If ministers and physicians will plan to unite in an effort to reach the honest-hearted one in the cities, the physicians, as well as the ministers, will be placed on vantage ground. As they labor in humility, God will open the way before them, and many will receive a saving knowledge of the truth.
Great benefits would come to the cause of God in the regions beyond if faithful efforts were put forth in behalf of the cities in America. Among the foreigners of various nationalities who would accept the truth, there are some who might soon be fitted to labor among those of their own native land. Many would return to the places from which they came, that they might win their friends to the truth. They would search out their kinsfolk and neighbors, and communicate to them a knowledge of the third angel’s message.
In New York City, in Chicago, and in other great centers of population, there is a large foreign element–multitudes of various nationalities, and all practically unwarned. Among Seventh-day Adventists there is a great zeal–and I am not saying there is any too much–to work in foreign countries; but it would be pleasing to God if a proportionate zeal were manifested to work the cities close by. His people need to move sensibly. They need to set about this work in the cities with serious earnestness. Men of consecration and talent are to be sent into these cities, and set at work. Many classes of laborers are to unite in conducting these efforts to warn the people.
When God’s chosen messengers recognize their responsibility toward the cities, and in the spirit of the Master-Worker labor untiringly for the conversion of precious souls, those who are enlightened will desire to give freely of their means to sustain the work done in their behalf. The newly converted believers will respond liberally to every call for help, and the Spirit of God will move upon their hearts to sustain not only the work being carried forward in the cities where they may be living, but in the regions beyond. Thus strength will come to the working forces at home and abroad, and the cause of God will be advanced in his appointed way.
To summarize what was just read, foreign mission fields are important, and domestic mission fields are also important. An area that has been neglected to a large extent are the cities of America. Foreigners are brought to America in the providence of God to learn the three angels messages and be equipped to go back to their nation and spread the message there. In the cities workers from different fields are to unite. We need medical missionaries, teachers, pastors, bible workers, canvassers, etc. The cities we are looking at are not small. We are looking at the big cities like New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and others because of the large immigrant populations there. As this work is done in the cities, it will result in the conversion of others. Those who are converted will support the work not only in the cities, but in the regions beyond that need funds.
This is how the gospel was spread in the first century. Judaea was the launching platform that God ordained at that time. The dispersion of the Jews and the feasts that called them back to Jerusalem were designed of God to carry the message all over the world with great speed. Three times a year all Jewish males were required to be in Jerusalem. One of these times that we know of is Pentecost. The gift of tongues was given at this feast to reach the Jews of all nationalities. Here everyman heard in his own tongue how Christ was the Messiah. The message was carried back all over the world.
In addition to this for the places that had not heard Paul was sent an apostle to the gentiles. What was the strategy he used? Did he go to the country towns and preach or the centers of society? We find Paul targeted the cities of influence. He went to cities like Corinth, Ephesus, Athens, Philippi, Thessalonica, and others. Thessalonica was the capital of the region of Macedonia; Philippi was one of the largest cities in Macedonia. These were no small cities. They were influential in the different regions they covered. By the work of the Holy Spirit in connection with this divine plan the gospel went to all the world by the time Paul wrote his epistle to the Colossians (Col 1:23).
What Israel was to the first century, America is to the present time. Israel was the launching platform for proclaiming a crucified, risen, and returning Savior. It is the same for America today. Those two series of talks stressed different aspects of this work. The first that I heard at South East Youth Conference was emphasizing the need of working for the immigrant population. The second emphasized the need of working the cities. Both ideas taken together we reach America and the countries that are afar off. When you look at the demographics for where certain people groups are located in the country, you will find them in clusters around certain cities. Arabs you will find mostly around San Francisco. Iranians you will find over on Long Island. Indians (as in those from India the country in Asia) you will find closer to New Jersey. If we would just work these areas, the gospel could go with trained converts to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other closed countries.
It would be nice to not reinvent the wheel. I say that because if someone is already doing this kind of work of major city evangelism targeting specific ethnic groups, I would like to know. As I already mentioned I have heard Dave Fiedler’s talks before and I have even worked in the restaurant for a few days to see what they were doing in Wichita. I will be in touch with Mr. Fiedler about different ideas and concepts in the future. I would like to know if anyone else is doing something in different areas. Other information that would be useful is trust worthy anthropological research on these different people groups. In other words if you have useful information please share it.
The main reason for this article is people. The bottom line is no one man can do this on his own. If I am the only one who wants to do this work, I will do it anyway and try to persuade others to join me. This is not ideal, however. Different workers from different fields are needed so we have a complete team to meet the needs of all in the cities through whatever avenues necessary. If you are interested in doing this kind of work, please contact me. A lot of study still needs to be done regarding this subject and how to conduct this project, meaning your input is valuable. I am asking for volunteers, researchers, and supporters.
Update 08/07/2012: After having come across a couple of resources it would appear the best way to go about this is using the outpost model outlined in the Spirit of Prophecy. Dr. James Lee and Elder Ted Wilson have both done research in this area, and a cursory glance at their findings has been more helpful than anything else in months. Dr. Lee’s material seems to deal with more specifics and has broadened my expectations for further study. Dr. Lee’s book A Compedium On Outpost-to-City Ministry is a treasure trove of information I have only had access to for just a few minutes.