Ministry to the Cities

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Chapter 12—A Case Study

EVANGELIZING SAN FRANCISCO AND OAKLAND

In 1872 James and Ellen White first visited California. Ellen White's concerns for the people living in San Francisco and Oakland became evident in the years that followed. In 1900 she returned to the United States from Australia. Soon after her arrival she purchased a home in northern California, which she named “Elmshaven.” From then until her death in 1915, Ellen White authored many counsels on a great variety of topics, but she had a particular burden to evangelize the cities. Among the cities she wrote about were two in the Bay Area of northern California: San Francisco and Oakland. What follows is a sampling of her counsels on evangelizing those two cities. MTC 185.1

San Francisco and Oakland have not been singled out for being any more important than other large cities around the world. Rather, the brief case study presented here is designed to illustrate Ellen White's concerns for evangelizing cities, as well as to sample her counsels for doing so in these two particular cities. Not everything she wrote about these two cities is included in this chapter, but the entries are sufficient to demonstrate the broad scope of the task and the total involvement of the church that she called for in mobilizing to evangelize a large city. The principles found in this case study may help guide all who are involved in city evangelism anywhere in the world to plan their work carefully, prayerfully, and comprehensively. MTC 185.2

SPIRITUAL REVIVAL OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS NEEDED

Genuine Conversion and Burden for Souls Needed by Church Members.—I ... met with the Oakland and San Francisco churches under the large tent in San Francisco. ... I felt the burden of testimony and the great need of persevering personal efforts on the part of these churches to bring others to the knowledge of the truth. I had been shown that San Francisco and Oakland were missionary fields and ever would be. Their increase of numbers would be slow; but if all in these churches were living members and would do what they might do in getting the light before others, many more would be brought into the ranks and obey the truth. The present believers in the truth were not interested for the salvation of others as they should be. Inactivity and indolence in the cause of God would result in backsliding from God themselves, and by their example they would hinder others from going forward. Unselfish, persevering, active exertion would be productive of the very best results. I tried to impress upon them that which the Lord had presented before me, that He would have the truth presented to others by earnest, active laborers, not those who merely profess to believe it. They should not present the truth in words merely, but by a circumspect life, by being living representatives of the truth. MTC 186.1

I was shown that those who compose these churches should be Bible students, studying the will of God most earnestly that they may learn to be laborers in the cause of God. They should sow the seeds of truth wherever they may be, at home, in the workshop, in the market, as well as in the meetinghouse. In order to become familiar with the Bible, they should read it carefully and prayerfully. ... MTC 186.2

Trusting in the blessing of God, the Christian is safe anywhere. In the city he will not be corrupted. In the counting room he will be marked for his habits of strict integrity. In the mechanic's shop every portion of his work will be done with fidelity, with an eye single to the glory of God. When this course is pursued by its individual members, a church will be successful. Prosperity will never attend these churches until the individual members shall be closely connected with God, having an unselfish interest in the salvation of their fellow men. Ministers may preach pleasing and forcible discourses, and much labor may be put forth to build up and make the church prosperous; but unless its individual members shall act their part as servants of Jesus Christ, the church will ever be in darkness and without strength. ... MTC 186.3

Some in these churches are in constant danger because the cares of this life and worldly thoughts so occupy the mind that they do not think upon God or heaven and the needs of their own souls. They rouse from their stupor now and then, but fall back again in deeper slumber. Unless they shall fully rouse from their slumbers, God will remove the light and blessings He has given them.—Testimonies For The Church 4:284-286. (1879) MTC 187.1

Every Sin Preventing Cooperation With God to Be Put Away.—When a special effort to win souls is put forth by laborers of experience in a community where our own people live, there rests upon every believer in that field a most solemn obligation to do all in his power to clear the King's highway by putting away every sin that would hinder him from cooperating with God and with his brethren. MTC 187.2

This has not always been fully understood. Satan has often brought in a spirit that has made it impossible for church members to discern opportunities for service. Believers have not infrequently allowed the enemy to work through them at the very time when they should have been wholly consecrated to God and the advancement of His work. Unconsciously they have wandered far from the way of righteousness. Cherishing a spirit of criticism and fault-finding, of pharisaical piety and pride, they grieve away the Spirit of God, and greatly retard the work of God's messengers.—The Review and Herald, December 6, 1906. MTC 187.3

Reconversion Needed Before Sharing Bible Truth With Others.—Night after night I can not sleep more than a few hours; and often in the hours of the night I find myself sitting up in bed, praying to God in behalf of those who do not realize their spiritual condition; and then I arise and walk the room, and say, O Lord, set thy people in order, before it shall be everlastingly too late! MTC 187.4

At times during these seasons of intercession, when the burden rests heavily, my heart is drawn out with great longing, and the tears start from my eyes, and I wring my hands before God, because I know there are souls in peril in the churches at Oakland and nearby places—souls who, in their condition of mind, know no more regarding how they stand before God than they would know had they never professed religion. ... MTC 188.1

We ought to long with all the heart for a thorough reconversion, that the truth may be enthroned in heart and mind, and that, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, we may be prepared to present the third angel's message before others who need it so much.—The Review and Herald, December 13, 1906. MTC 188.2

SEEK GOD'S GUIDANCE WHILE PLANNING

Humbly, Prayerfully Consult God From Start to Finish.—If, in this opportune time, the members of the churches will come humbly before God, putting out of their hearts all that is wrong, and consulting Him at every step, He will manifest Himself to them, and will give them courage in Him. We must be ready to use our God-given capabilities in the work of the Lord. We must be ready to speak words in season and out of season—words that will help and bless. MTC 188.3

As the church members do their part faithfully, the Lord will lead and guide His chosen ministers, and strengthen them for their important work. In much prayer let us all unite in holding up their hands, and in drawing bright beams from the heavenly sanctuary. We are soul-hungry to see the work advancing as it should. Christ is our alpha and our omega. Only in His strength can we gain success.—The Review and Herald, December 20, 1906. MTC 188.4

THOROUGH BIBLE STUDY BY CHURCH MEMBERS

Bible Study Supersedes Worthless Reading.—We need to draw fresh supplies daily from the great storehouse of God's Word. This will give no time for novel reading, or for anything else that does not edify and strengthen for every good work.—The Review and Herald, October 4, 1906 (Sons and Daughters of God, 325). MTC 189.1

INVOLVEMENT BY ALL

Young and Old to Participate.—The most earnest efforts should be made to lead the older and younger members of our churches to take hold of the work where they are.—Manuscript 3, 1901 (Manuscript Releases 17:47). MTC 189.2

Ministers Reminded of Calling.—Shall we not do all in our power to advance the work in San Francisco and Oakland, and in all the other cities of California? Thousands upon thousands who live in the cities close by us need help in various ways. Let the ministers of the gospel remember that the Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”—Manuscript 81, 1902 (The Kress Collection, 139). MTC 189.3

PREPARATION IMPORTANT

Preparation Crucial Before Evangelistic Work Begins.—Elder [William Ward Simpson] has had the big camp meeting tent pitched in Oakland. During the preparations he was right on hand to direct, and worked very hard to have the grounds approaching the tent as presentable as possible.—Letter 352, 1906 (Evangelism, 76). MTC 189.4

MULTIFACETED EVANGELISM PROGRAM COMMENDED

Different Avenues of Outreach Used.—During the past few years, the “beehive” in San Francisco has been indeed a busy one. Many lines of Christian effort have been carried forward. ... These included visiting the sick and destitute, finding homes for orphans, and work for the unemployed; nursing the sick, and teaching the truth from house to house; the distribution of literature, and ... classes on healthful living and the care of the sick. A school for the children has been conducted in the basement of the Laguna Street meeting house. For a time a working men's home and medical mission was maintained. On Market Street, near the city hall, there were treatment rooms, operated as a branch of the St. Helena Sanitarium. In the same locality was a health food store. Nearer the center of the city, not far from the Call building,* was ... a vegetarian cafe, which was open six days in the week, and entirely closed on the Sabbath. Along the waterfront, ship mission work was carried on. At various times our ministers conducted meetings in large halls in the city. Thus the warning message was given by many.—The Review and Herald, July 5, 1906 (Welfare Ministry, 112). MTC 190.1

Maximize Effectiveness Through Expansion of Efforts.—In San Francisco a hygienic restaurant has been opened, also a food store and treatment rooms. These are doing a good work, but their influence should be greatly extended. Other restaurants similar to the one on Market Street should be opened in San Francisco and in Oakland.—Testimonies For The Church 7:110. (1902) MTC 190.2

VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS

Restaurants to Teach Principles of Health.—If more ... restaurants could be carried on in San Francisco, what a blessing it would be. By the practical demonstration of how to prepare wholesome, palatable food without the use of meat, many would learn valuable lessons. They would become acquainted with health principles.—Manuscript 1, 1901 (Manuscript Releases 17:42, 43). MTC 190.3

Sabbath to Be Upheld in Restaurants.—The question has been asked: “Should our restaurants be opened on the Sabbath?” My answer is: No, no! The observance of the Sabbath is our witness to God, the mark, or sign, between Him and us that we are His people. Never is this mark to be obliterated. ... MTC 191.1

We are to heed a “Thus saith the Lord,” even though by our obedience we cause great inconvenience to those who have no respect for the Sabbath. On one hand we have man's supposed necessities; on the other, God's commands. Which have the greatest weight with us?—Testimonies For The Church 7:121, 122. (1902) MTC 191.2

House-to-house Workers Needed to Accompany Public Meetings.—It is planned that Elder W. W. Simpson shall begin a series of meetings in Oakland within a very few weeks. With him should be associated a strong force of house-to-house workers. Bible readings* should be held in the homes of the people, and our literature should be circulated.—The Review and Herald, October 4, 1906. MTC 191.3

TRAINING WORKERS

Workers Trained to Do Personal Evangelism Outreach.—Elder and Mrs. [Stephen and Hetty] Haskell were conducting Bible studies [classes] in the forenoons, and in the afternoons the workers in training were going out and visiting from house to house. These missionary visits, and the sale of many books and periodicals, opened the way for the holding of Bible readings [i.e., Bible studies]. ... MTC 191.4

Because of the importance of this work, I have urged that Elder Haskell and his wife, as ministers of God, shall give Bible instruction to those who will offer themselves for service. God will use humble men. He will make of every consecrated man a light-bearing Christian. Not the most eloquent in speech, not those who are the best versed in so-called theology, are always the most successful, but those who will work diligently and humbly for the Master.—The Review and Herald, November 29, 1906 (portion in Evangelism, 470). MTC 192.1

CREATIVE EVANGELISTIC METHODS

Creative, Innovative Evangelistic Methods Used.—The manner of Elder [Willliam Ward] Simpson's work reminds me of the efforts that were put forth in 1843 and 1844. He does not make prominent his own words, but reads much from the Bible, explaining one scripture by another. He dwells largely on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, and uses many illustrations and suitable figures to impress the truth. To represent the beasts of Daniel and Revelation, he has prepared lifelike images of papier-mâché.. MTC 192.2

Elder Simpson endeavors to avoid entering into controversy with opponents. He presents the Bible so clearly that it is evident that anyone who differs must do so in opposition to the Word of God.—The Review and Herald, February 7, 1907. MTC 192.3

Variety of Speakers Better Than Single Speaker.—In our tent meetings we must have speakers who can make a good impression on the people. The ability of one man, however intelligent this man may be, is insufficient to meet the need. A variety of talents should be brought into these meetings.—Manuscript 104, 1902 (Evangelism, 70). MTC 192.4

Multiple Public Meetings Held Simultaneously.—Camp meetings must be multiplied. Place after place is to be entered. The interests can be divided, meetings being held in more than one place at the same time, if our men of ability are not kept hovering over the cities at the very time when they could reach many people in large tent meetings.—Manuscript 104, 1902 (Manuscript Releases 17:52). MTC 193.1

BIBLE TRUTH TO BE PRESENTED

Truth Presented Clearly but Simply.—Brother S [William Ward Simpson] is an intelligent evangelist. He speaks with the simplicity of a child. Never does he bring any slur into his discourses. He preaches directly from the Word, letting the Word speak to all classes. His strong arguments are the words of the Old and the New Testaments. He does not seek for words that would merely impress the people with his learning, but he endeavors to let the Word of God speak to them directly in clear, distinct utterance. If any refuse to accept the message, they must reject the Word.—Letter 326, 1906 (Evangelism, 204). MTC 193.2

FOLLOW-UP NEEDED

House-to-house Work to Follow Public Meetings.—There is much house-to-house work to be done by faithful laborers. Our efforts are not to cease because public meetings have been discontinued for a time. So long as there are interested ones, we must give them opportunity to learn the truth. And the new converts will need to be instructed by faithful teachers of God's Word, that they may increase in a knowledge and love of the truth, and may grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. They must now be surrounded by the influences most favorable to spiritual growth.—The Review and Herald, February 14, 1907 (portion in Evangelism, 337). MTC 193.3

CRITICS AND OPPONENTS EXIST

Opposition Will Occur, Even From Church Members.—Two nights before I left my home, I was charged, during the visions of the nights, to tell the congregation that I should meet at Oakland on the Sabbath, that the wicked words coming from their lips regarding the supposed faults of God's servants who are doing the very best they can to spread the truth and to advance His work are all written in the heavenly books of record. Unless those who speak these words repent, they will at last find themselves outside the city of God. God will not allow a quarrelsome person to enter into the heavenly city.—Manuscript 95, 1906 (Sermons and Talks 1:375, 376). MTC 194.1