Evangelising the Cities

by Ellen White

The words were spoken to me with impelling power: Wake up the watchmen to carry the word of warning to every city in America. Build up the waste places. The righteous judgements of God, with their weight of final decision, are coming upon the land. Do not hover over the churches to repeat over and over again the same truths to the people, while the cities are left in ignorance and sin, unwarned and unlabored for. Soon the way will be hedged up and these cities will be closed to the gospel message. Wake up the church members that they may unite in doing a definite and self-denying work. 10MR 216

It has been a difficult problem to know how to reach the people in the great centres of population. We are not allowed entrance to the churches. In the cities the large halls are expensive, and in most cases but few will come out to the best halls. We have been spoken against by those who were not acquainted with us. The reasons of our faith are not understood by the people, and we have been regarded as fanatics, who were ignorantly keeping Saturday for Sunday. 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. 6T 31

I dreamed that several of our brethren were in council, considering plans of labour for this season [1874]. They thought it best not to enter the large cities, but to begin work in small places, remote from the cities; here they would meet less opposition from the clergy, and would avoid great expense. They reasoned that our ministers, being few in number, could not be spared to instruct and care for those who might accept the truth in the cities, and who, because of the greater opposition they would there meet, would need more help than would the churches in small country places. Thus the fruit of giving a course of lectures in the city would, in a great measure, be lost. Again, it was urged that, because of our limited means, and because of the many changes from moving that might be expected from a church in a large city, it would be difficult to build up a church that would be a strength to the cause. My husband was urging the brethren to make broader plans without delay, and put forth, in our large cities, extended and thorough effort, that would better correspond to the character of our message. One worker related incidents of his experience in the cities, showing that the work was nearly a failure, but he testified to better success in the small places.

One of dignity and authority--One who is present in all our council meetings--was listening with deepest interest to every word. He spoke with deliberation and perfect assurance. "The whole world," He said, "is God's great vineyard. The cities and villages constitute a part of that vineyard. These must be worked." 7T 34

In the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned. They must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly. The testing message for this time is to be borne so plainly and decidedly as to startle the hearers and lead them to desire to study the Scriptures. 9T 109

As a people we greatly need to humble our hearts before God, pleading His forgiveness for our neglect to fulfil the gospel commission. We have made large centres in a few places, leaving unworked many important cities. Let us now take up the work appointed us, and proclaim the message that is to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger. If every Seventh-day Adventist had done the work laid upon him, the number of believers would now be much larger than it is. 9T 25

We have a most solemn, testing message to give to the world. But too much time has been given to those who already know the truth. In the place of spending time on those who have been given many opportunities to learn the truth, go to the people who have never heard your message. Hold your camp meetings[* NOTE.--SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CAMP MEETINGS OF EARLIER YEARS WERE GREAT EVANGELISTIC AGENCIES DRAWING LARGE, ATTENTIVE, NON-ADVENTIST AUDIENCES. IN THE FREQUENT MENTION OF CAMP MEETINGS IN THIS VOLUME THE CONTEXT CLEARLY INDICATES THAT IT IS THE TENT MEETING OF LARGE EVANGELISTIC POTENTIALITIES THAT IS USUALLY REFERRED TO. SEE EV 82,83 FOR STATEMENTS DESCRIBING SUCH MEETINGS.] in cities where the truth has not been proclaimed. Some will attend the meetings and receive the message.--Letter 87, 1896. EV 20

We do not realise the extent to which Satanic agencies are at work in these large cities. The work of bringing the message of present truth before the people is becoming more and more difficult. It is essential that new and varied talents unite in intelligent labour for the people. EV 31

The people who live in the country places are often more easily reached that are those who dwell in the thickly populated cities. Here among the scenes of nature Christian character is more easily formed than amid the wickedness of city life. When the truth takes hold of the hearts of the simplehearted, and the Spirit of God works upon their minds, leading them to respond to the proclamation of the Word, there will be some raised up to help support the cause of God both by their means and their labours.-- Manuscript 65, 1908. EV 46

The solemn, sacred message of warning must be proclaimed in the most difficult fields and in the most sinful cities, in every place where the light of the great threefold gospel message has not yet dawned. Everyone is to hear the last call to the marriage supper of the Lamb. . . .

Countries hitherto closed to the gospel are opening their doors, and are pleading for the Word of God to be explained to them. Kings and princes are opening their long-closed gates, inviting the heralds of the cross to enter. The harvest truly is great. Eternity alone will reveal the results of well-directed efforts put forth now. GW 27

For the accomplishment of all that God calls for in warning the cities, His servants must plan for a wise distribution of the working forces. Often the labourers who might be a power for good in public meetings, are engaged in other work that allows them no time for active ministry among the people. For the conduct of affairs at the various centres of our work, those in responsibility must endeavour, as far as possible, to find consecrated men who have been trained in business lines. There is constant necessity of guarding against the tendency to tie up at these centres of influence men who could do a larger and more important work on the public platform, in presenting before unbelievers the truths of God's Word. RH APR. 7,1910

The spiritual darkness that covers the whole earth today, is intensified in the crowded centres of population. It is in the cities of the nations that the gospel worker finds the greatest impenitence and the greatest need....

The record of crime and iniquity in the large cities of the land is appalling. The wickedness of the wicked is almost beyond comprehension. Many cities are becoming a very Sodom in the sight of heaven. The increasing wickedness is such that multitudes are rapidly approaching a point in their personal experience beyond which it will be exceedingly difficult to reach them with a saving knowledge of the third angel's message. The enemy of souls is working in a masterful manner to gain full control of the human mind; and what God's servants do to warn and prepare men for the day of judgement, must be done quickly.

The conditions that face Christian workers in the great cities, constitute a solemn appeal for untiring effort in behalf of the millions living within the shadow of impending doom. Men will soon be forced to great decisions, and they must have opportunity to hear and to understand Bible truth, in order that they may take their stand intelligently on the right side. God is now calling upon His messengers in no uncertain terms, to warn the cities while mercy still lingers, and while multitudes are yet susceptible to the converting influence of Bible truth. RH APR. 7,1910

As I consider the conditions in the cities that are so manifestly under the power of Satan, I ask myself the question, What will be the end of these things? The wickedness in many cities is increasing. Crime and iniquity are at work on every hand. New species of idolatry are continually being introduced into society. In every nation the minds of men are turning to the invention of some new thing. Rashness of deed and confusion of mind are everywhere increasing. Surely the cities of the earth are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah.

As a people we need to hasten the work in the cities, which has been hindered for lack of workers and means and a spirit of consecration. At this time, the people of God need to turn their hearts fully to Him; for the end of all things is at hand. They need to humble their minds, and to be attentive to the will of the Lord, working with earnest desire to do that which God has shown must be done to warn the cities of their impending doom. RH JAN.25,1912

The cities must be worked. The millions living in these congested centres are to hear the third angel's message. This work should have been developed rapidly during the past few years. RH JUL. 5,1906

Much depends upon the work done by the members of the church in connection with and following the tent-meetings that shall be held in our cities. During the meeting, many, convicted by the Spirit, may be filled with a desire to begin the Christian life; but unless there is constant watchfulness on the part of the workers who remain to follow up the interest, the good impressions made on the minds of the people will become indistinct. The enemy, full of subtle reasoning, will take advantage of every failure on the part of God's workers to watch for souls as they that must give an account. RH MAR.02,1905

When I think of the many cities yet unwarned, I cannot rest. It is distressing to think that they have been neglected so long. For many, many years the cities of America, including the cities in the South, have been set before our people as places needing special attention. A few have borne the burden of working in these cities; but, in comparison with the great needs and the many opportunities, but little has been done. Where is your faith, my brethren? Where are the workmen? . . .

Shall we not plan to send messengers all through these fields, and support them liberally? Shall not the ministers of God go into these crowded centres, and there lift up their voices in warning to multitudes? At such a time as this, every hand is to be employed. RH NOV.25,1909