Chapter 18—The Camp-Meeting an Aid in Christian Service
The camp-meeting is one of the most important agencies in our work. It is one of the most effective methods of arresting the attention of the people.—Testimonies for the Church 6:31.In our work we have been perplexed to know how to break through the barriers of worldliness and prejudice, and bring before the people the precious truth which means so much to them. The Lord has instructed us that the camp-meeting is one of the most important instrumentalities for the accomplishment of this work.—Testimonies for the Church 6:31, 32.
What is the object of assembling together? Is it to inform God, to instruct Him by telling Him all we know in prayer? We meet together to edify one another by an interchange of thoughts and feelings, to gather strength, and light, and courage by becoming acquainted with one another's hopes and aspirations; by our earnest, heartfelt prayers, offered up in faith, we receive refreshment and vigor from the Source of our strength.—Testimonies for the Church 2:578.Our camp-meetings have another object.... They are to promote spiritual life among our own people.... God has committed to our hands a most sacred work, and we need to meet together to receive instruction, that we may be fitted to perform this work. We need to understand what part we shall individually be called upon to act in building up the cause of God in the earth, in vindicating God's holy law, and in lifting up the Saviour as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. We need to meet together and receive the divine touch that we may understand our work in the home.—Testimonies for the Church 6:32, 33.Properly conducted, the camp-meeting is a school where pastors, elders, and deacons can learn to do more perfect work for the Master. It should be a school where the members of the church, old and young, are given opportunity to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly, a place where believers can receive an education that will help them to help others.—Testimonies for the Church 6:49.In connection with our camp-meetings in past years, God's servants have improved many precious opportunities for instructing our people in practical methods of presenting the saving truths of the third angel's message to their friends and acquaintances. Many have been taught how to labor as self-supporting missionaries in their home communities. Many have returned home from these annual gatherings, to labor with greater zeal and intelligence than hitherto. It would be pleasing to God if far more of this practical instruction were given the church members who attend our camp-meetings, than has usually been given in years past. Our general workers and our brethren and sisters in every conference should remember that one of the objects of our annual gatherings is that all may gain a knowledge of practical methods of personal missionary work.—Testimonies for the Church 9:81.In some of our conferences, the leaders have hesitated to introduce these practical methods of instruction. Some are naturally inclined to sermonize rather than to teach. But on such occasions as our annual camp-meetings, we must never lose sight of the opportunities afforded for teaching the believers how to do practical missionary work in the place where they may live.—Testimonies for the Church 9:82.
Practical Demonstration of Missionary Methods
By engaging in work at the camp-meeting, all may be learning how to work successfully in their home churches.—Testimonies for the Church 6:49.At some of our camp-meetings, strong companies of workers have been organized to go out into the city and its suburbs to distribute literature and invite people to the meetings. By this means hundreds of persons were secured as regular attendants during the last half of the meeting who otherwise might have thought little about it.—Testimonies for the Church 6:36.We can go to the camp-meeting, not merely to receive, but to impart. Every one who is a partaker of Christ's pardoning love, every one who has been enlightened by the Spirit of God and converted to the truth, will feel that for these precious blessings he owes a debt to every soul with whom he comes in contact. Those who are humble in heart the Lord will use to reach souls whom the ordained ministers cannot reach. They will be moved to speak words which reveal the saving grace of Christ.—Testimonies for the Church 6:43.When we follow plans of the Lord's devising, we are “laborers together with God.” Whatever our position,—whether presidents of conferences, ministers, teachers, students, or lay members,—we are held accountable by the Lord for making the most of our opportunities to enlighten those in need of present truth. And one of the principal agencies He has ordained for our use is the printed page. In our schools and sanitariums, in our home churches, and particularly in our annual camp-meetings, we must learn to make a wise use of this precious agency. With patient diligence, chosen workers must instruct our people how to approach unbelievers in a kindly, winning way, and how to place in their hands literature in which the truth for this time is presented with clearness and power.—Testimonies for the Church 9:86, 87.The work at our camp-meetings should be conducted, not according to man's devising, but after the manner of Christ's working. The church members should be drawn out to labor.—Testimonies for the Church 9:120.
Special Feature of Camp-Meetings Near the End of Time
It has been shown me that our camp-meetings are to increase in interest and success. As we approach nearer the end, I have seen that in these meetings there will be less preaching, and more Bible study. There will be little groups all over the ground with their Bibles in their hands, and different ones leading out in a free, conversational study of the Scriptures.—Testimonies for the Church 6:87.
Serious Loss in Remaining Away
Our camp-meetings are arranged and held at great expense. God's ministers who advocate unpopular truth, labor excessively at these large gatherings to bear the message of mercy from a crucified Redeemer to poor fallen sinners. To neglect or treat these messages with indifference, is to slight the mercy of God and His voice of warning and entreaty. Your absence from these meetings has been very detrimental to your spiritual welfare. You have missed the strength that you might have gained there by listening to the preached word of God, and mingling with the believers of the truth.—Testimonies for the Church 4:115.It is no small matter for a family to stand as representatives of Jesus, keeping God's law in an unbelieving community. We are required to be living epistles, known and read of all men. This position involves fearful responsibilities. In order to live in the light, you must come where the light shines. Brother K, at any sacrifice, should feel under solemn obligation to attend, with his family, at least the yearly gatherings of those who love the truth. It would strengthen him and them, and fit them for trial and duty. It is not well for them to lose the privilege of associating with those of like faith; for the truth loses its importance in their minds, their hearts cease to be enlightened and vivified by its sanctifying influence, and they lose spirituality. They are not strengthened by the words of the living preacher. Worldly thoughts and worldly enterprises are continually exercising their minds to the exclusion of spiritual subjects.—Testimonies for the Church 4:106.Let all who possibly can, attend these yearly gatherings. All should feel that God requires this of them. If they do not avail themselves of the privileges which He has provided that they may become strong in Him and in the power of His grace, they will grow weaker and weaker, and have less and less desire to consecrate all to God.Come, brethren and sisters, to these sacred convocation meetings, to find Jesus. He will come up to the feast. He will be present, and He will do for you that which you most need to have done. Your farms should not be considered of greater value than the higher interests of the soul. All the treasures which you possess, be they ever so valuable, would not be rich enough to buy you peace and hope, which would be infinite gain, if it cost you all you have and the toils and sufferings of a lifetime. A strong, clear sense of eternal things, and a heart willing to yield all to Christ, are blessings of more value than all the riches, and pleasures, and glories of this world.—Testimonies for the Church 2:575, 576.
Chapter 19—The Home-Foreign Field
A Work Equal in Importance to That in Foreign Fields
Wake up, wake up, my brethren and sisters, and enter the fields in America that have never been worked. After you have given something for foreign fields, do not think your duty done. There is a work to be done in foreign fields, but there is a work to be done in America that is just as important. In the cities of America there are people of almost every language. These need the light that God has given to His church.—Testimonies for the Church 8:36.While plans are being carried out to warn the inhabitants of various nations in distant lands, much must be done in behalf of the foreigners who have come to the shores of our own land. The souls in China are no 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 fulfil their duty toward the foreigners of various nationalities in the cities and villages and country districts close by.—The Review and Herald, July 25, 1918 (The Review and Herald, October 29, 1914).In New York City, in Chicago, and in other great centers of population, there is a larger 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 to work. Many classes of laborers are to unite in conducting these efforts to warn the people.—The Review and Herald, July 25, 1918 (The Review and Herald, October 29, 1914).
A Heaven-sent Opportunity
In our own country there are thousands of all nations, and tongues, and peoples who are ignorant and superstitious, having no knowledge of the Bible or its sacred teachings. God's hand was in their coming to America, that they might be brought under the enlightening influence of the truth revealed in His Word, and become partakers of His saving faith.—The Review and Herald, March 1, 1887.God in His providence has brought men to our very doors, and thrust them, as it were, into our arms, that they might learn the truth, and be qualified to do a work we could not do in getting the light to men of other tongues.—The Review and Herald, July 25, 1918 (The Review and Herald, October 29, 1914).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.—Pacific Union Recorder, April 21, 1910 (North Pacific Union Gleaner, April 13, 1910).Great benefits would come to the cause of God in the regions beyond, if faithful effort were put forth in behalf of the foreigners in the cities of our homeland. Among these men and women are some who, upon accepting the truth, could soon be fitted to labor for their own people in this country and in other countries. Many might return to the places from which they came, in the hope of winning their friends to the truth. They could search out their kinsfolk and neighbors, and communicate to them a knowledge of the third angel's message.—The Review and Herald, October 29, 1914.
There has been a slothful neglect and a criminal unbelief among us as a people, which has kept us back from doing the work God has left us to do in letting our light shine forth to those of other nations.—Life Sketches, 213.I have been shown that, as a people, we have been asleep as to our duty in regard to getting the light before those of other nations.—Life Sketches, 212.We are not keeping pace with the opening providence of God. Jesus and angels are at work. This cause is onward, while we are standing still and being left in the rear. If we would follow the opening providence of God, we should be quick to discern every opening, and make the most of every advantage within our reach, to let the light extend and spread to other nations.—Life Sketches, 212, 213.
Strengthen the Hands of the Workers
God would be pleased to see far more accomplished by His people in the presentation of the truth for this time to the foreigners of America, than has been done in the past. Let us strengthen the hands of Elder Olsen [Elder O. A. Olsen was then general secretary for the North American Foreign Department of the General Conference.] and his associates in labor. Let us not permit them to struggle on alone, with only a meager allowance for the prosecution of their great work.—The Review and Herald, October 29, 1914.Elder Olsen told us also of the encouraging beginnings among the Italians, Serbians, Rumanians, Russians, and several other nationalities. We rejoice with him in all that has been done, and yet our hearts were made sad by the knowledge that much that might have been done has been left undone because of lack of means. We hope that the special collection ... taken in all our churches in America, will enable our brethren having this department in charge to do more aggressive work in the great cities of the land. Thus many may be won to our ranks, and from among these may be developed laborers who can proclaim the message to those of their own nationality in our own land and in the other nations of earth.—The Review and Herald, October 29, 1914.