Q: A few weeks ago I heard the pastor say in his sermon that by just engaging in community activism we undermine the sharing of the Adventist message. How does community activism undermine sharing the three angels’ messages? Evangelism is in my blood; I remember the statement from Ellen White where she says that only the method Jesus used will work. He first mingled with the people and met their needs; then He said “Follow me.” — Susanne, from California.
A: Susanne, this is a very important question because evangelism is a vital part of who we are as Seventh-day Adventists. The quote to which you are referring is found in that marvelous book, “Ministry of Healing,” page 143:
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”
In order to be successful, it is vital that we follow Christ’s method, and being helpful and active in meeting people’s needs in the community is certainly a part of that.
There is more to Christ’s method, however, than community service. Let’s read the context in which the above statement is taken:
“We are living in the midst of an ‘epidemic of crime,’ at which thoughtful, God-fearing men everywhere stand aghast. … Who can doubt that satanic agencies are at work among men with increasing activity to distract and corrupt the mind, and defile and destroy the body?
“And while the world is filled with these evils, the gospel is too often presented in so indifferent a manner as to make but little impression upon the consciences or the lives of men.
“Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not. They long for a power that will give them mastery over sin, a power that will deliver them from the bondage of evil, a power that will give health and life and peace.
“Many who once knew the power of God’s word have dwelt where there is no recognition of God, and they long for the divine presence.
“The world needs today what it needed nineteen hundred years ago — a revelation of Christ. A great work of reform is demanded, and it is only through the grace of Christ that the work of restoration, physical, mental, and spiritual, can be accomplished.
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’
“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen.
“The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit” (“Ministry of Healing,” pp. 142-143).
So as we work to win souls, it’s important to follow Christ’s method — of meeting people’s temporal needs AND spiritual, eternal needs. Both are equally important, and to be effective, we must use the “power of persuasion, the power of prayer, and the power of the love of God.”