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Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6

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    Chapter 42—Revival of the Canvassing Work

    The importance of the canvassing work is kept ever before me. This work has not of late had the life infused into it which was once given by the agents who made it their specialty. Canvassers have been called from their evangelistic work to engage in other labor. This is not as it should be. Many of our canvassers, if truly converted and consecrated, can accomplish more in this line than in any other in bringing the truth for this time before the people.6T 329.1

    We have the word of God to show that the end is near. The world is to be warned, and as never before we are to be laborers with Christ. The work of warning has been entrusted to us. We are to be channels of light to the world, imparting to others the light we receive from the great Light Bearer. The words and works of all men are to be tried. Let us not be backward now. That which is to be done in warning the world must be done without delay. Let not the canvassing work be left to languish. Let the books containing the light on present truth be placed before as many as possible.6T 329.2

    The presidents of our conferences and others in responsible positions have a duty to do in this matter, that the different branches of our work may receive equal attention. Canvassers are to be educated and trained to do the work required in selling the books upon present truth which the people need. There is need of men of deep Christian experience, men of well-balanced minds, strong, well-educated men, to engage in this work. The Lord desires those to take hold of the canvassing work who are capable of educating others, who can awaken in promising young men and women an interest in this line, leading them to take up the bookwork and handle it successfully. Some have the talent, education, and experience which would enable them to educate the youth for the canvassing work in such a way that much more would be accomplished than is now being done.6T 329.3

    Those who have gained an experience in this work have a special duty to perform in teaching others. Educate, educate, educate young men and women to sell the books which the Lord by His Holy Spirit has stirred His servants to write. God desires us to be faithful in educating those who accept the truth, that they may believe to a purpose and work intelligently in the Lord's way. Let inexperienced persons be connected with experienced workers, that they may learn how to work. Let them seek God most earnestly. These may do a good work in canvassing if they will obey the words: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:16. Those who give evidence that they are truly converted, and who take up the canvassing work, will see that it is the best preparation for other lines of missionary labor.6T 330.1

    If those who know the truth would practice it, methods would be devised for meeting the people where they are. It was the providence of God which in the beginning of the Christian church scattered the saints abroad, sending them out of Jerusalem into many parts of the world. The disciples of Christ did not stay in Jerusalem or in the cities near by, but they went beyond the limits of their own country into the great thoroughfares of travel, seeking for the lost that they might bring them to God. Today the Lord desires to see His work carried forward in many places. We must not confine our labors to a few localities.6T 330.2

    We must not discourage our brethren, weakening their hands so that the work which God desires to accomplish through them shall not be done. Let not too much time be occupied in fitting up men to do missionary work. Instruction is necessary, but let all remember that Christ is the Great Teacher and the Source of all true wisdom. Let young and old consecrate themselves to God, take up the work, and go forward, laboring in humility under the control of the Holy Spirit. Let those who have been in school go out into the field and put to a practical use the knowledge they have gained. If canvassers will do this, using the ability which God has given them, seeking counsel from Him, and combining the work of selling books with personal labor for the people, their talents will increase by exercise, and they will learn many practical lessons which they could not possibly learn in school. The education obtained in this practical way may properly be termed higher education.6T 330.3

    There is no higher work than evangelistic canvassing, for it involves the performance of the highest moral duties. Those who engage in this work need always to be under the control of the Spirit of God. There must be no exalting of self. What have any of us that we did not receive from Christ? We must love as brethren, revealing our love by helping one another. We must be pitiful and courteous. We must press together, drawing in even cords. Only those who live the prayer of Christ, working it out in practical life, will stand the test that is to come upon all the world. Those who exalt self place themselves in Satan's power, preparing to receive his deceptions. The word of the Lord to His people is that we lift the standard higher and still higher. If we obey His voice, He will work with us, and our efforts will be crowned with success. In our work we shall receive rich blessings from on high and shall lay up treasure beside the throne of God.6T 331.1

    If we only knew what is before us we would not be so dilatory in the work of the Lord. We are in the shaking time, the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. The Lord will not excuse those who know the truth if they do not in word and deed obey His commands. If we make no effort to win souls to Christ we shall be held responsible for the work we might have done, but did not do because of our spiritual indolence. Those who belong to the Lord's kingdom must work earnestly for the saving of souls. They must do their part to bind up the law and seal it among the disciples.6T 331.2

    The Lord designs that the light which He has given on the Scriptures shall shine forth in clear, bright rays; and it is the duty of our canvassers to put forth a strong, united effort that God's design may be accomplished. A great and important work is before us. The enemy of souls realizes this, and he is using every means in his power to lead the canvasser to take up some other line of work. This order of things should be changed. God calls the canvassers back to their work. He calls for volunteers who will put all their energies and enlightenment into the work, helping wherever there is opportunity. The Master calls for everyone to do the part given him according to his ability. Who will respond to the call? Who will go forth to labor in wisdom and grace and the love of Christ for those nigh and afar off? Who will sacrifice ease and pleasure, and enter the places of error, superstition, and darkness, working earnestly and perseveringly, speaking the truth in simplicity, praying in faith, doing house-to-house labor? Who at this time will go forth without the camp, imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit, bearing reproach for Christ's sake, opening the Scriptures to the people, and calling them to repentance?6T 332.1

    God has His workmen in every age. The call of the hour is answered by the coming of the man. Thus when the divine Voice cries, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” the response will come, “Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8. Let all who labor effectually in the canvassing field feel in their hearts that they are doing the work of the Lord in ministering to souls who know not the truth for this time. They are sounding the note of warning in the highways and byways to prepare a people for the great day of the Lord, which is so soon to break upon the world. We have no time to lose. We must encourage this work. Who will go forth now with our publications? The Lord imparts a fitness for the work to every man and woman who will co-operate with divine power. All the requisite talent, courage, perseverance, faith, and tact will come as they put the armor on. A great work is to be done in our world, and human agencies will surely respond to the demand. The world must hear the warning. When the call comes, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” send back the answer clear and distinct, “Here am I; send me.”6T 332.2

    *****

    “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6.6T 333.1

    *****

    Selection of Canvassers. Some are better adapted than others for doing a certain work; therefore it is not correct to think that everyone can be a canvasser. Some have no special adaptability for this work; but they are not, because of this, to be regarded as faithless or unwilling. The Lord is not unreasonable in His requirements. The church is as a garden in which is a variety of flowers, each with its own peculiarities. Though in many respects all may differ, yet each has a value of its own.6T 333.2

    *****

    God does not expect that with their different temperaments His people will each be prepared for any and every place. Let all remember that there are varied trusts. It is not the work of any man to prescribe the work of any other man contrary to his own convictions of duty. It is right to give counsel and suggest plans; but every man should be left free to seek direction from God, whose he is and whom he serves.6T 334.1

    *****

    A Preparation for the Ministry. Some men whom God was calling to the work of the ministry have entered the field as canvassers. I have been instructed that this is an excellent preparation if their object is to disseminate light, to bring the truths of God's word directly to the home circle. In conversation the way will often be opened for them to speak of the religion of the Bible. If the work is entered upon as it should be, families will be visited, the workers will manifest Christian tenderness and love for souls, and great good will be the result. This will be an excellent experience for any who have the ministry in view.6T 334.2

    Those who are fitting for the ministry can engage in no other occupation that will give them so large an experience as will the canvassing work.6T 334.3

    *****

    Enduring Hardness. He who in his work meets with trials and temptations should profit by these experiences, learning to lean more decidedly upon God. He should feel his dependence every moment.6T 334.4

    No complaint should be cherished in his heart or be uttered by his lips. When successful, he should take no glory to himself, for his success is due to the working of God's angels upon the heart. And let him remember that both in the time of encouragement and the time of discouragement the heavenly messengers are always beside him. He should acknowledge the goodness of the Lord, praising Him with cheerfulness.6T 334.5

    Christ laid aside His glory and came to this earth to suffer for sinners. If we meet with hardships in our work, let us look to Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Then we shall not fail nor be discouraged. We shall endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Remember what He says of all true believers: “We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9.6T 335.1

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    A Precious Experience. He who takes up the work of canvassing as he should must be both an educator and a student. While he tries to teach others he himself must learn to do the work of an evangelist. As canvassers go forth into the field with humble hearts, full of earnest activity, they will find many opportunities to speak a word in season to souls ready to die in discouragement. After laboring for these needy ones they will be able to say: “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8. As they see the sinful course of others they can say: “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11.6T 335.2

    Those who work for God will meet with discouragement, but the promise is always theirs: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. God will give a most wonderful experience to those who will say: “I believe Thy promise; I will not fail nor become discouraged.”6T 335.3

    *****

    Reporting. Let those who gain such an experience in working for the Lord write an account of it for our papers, that others may be encouraged. Let the canvasser tell of the joy and blessing he has received in his ministry as an evangelist. These reports should find a place in our papers, for they are far-reaching in their influence. They will be as sweet fragrance in the church, a savor of life unto life. Thus it is seen that God works with those who co-operate with Him.6T 336.1

    *****

    Example in Health Reform. In your association with unbelievers do not allow yourselves to be swerved from right principles. If you sit at their table, eat temperately and only of food that will not confuse the mind. Keep clear of intemperance. You cannot afford to weaken your mental or physical powers, lest you become unable to discern spiritual things. Keep your mind in such a condition that God can impress it with the precious truths of His word.6T 336.2

    Thus you will have an influence upon others. Many try to correct the lives of others by attacking what they regard as wrong habits. They go to those whom they think in error, and point out defects, but do not put forth earnest, tactful effort in directing the mind to true principles. Such a course often fails of securing the desired results. In trying to correct others we too often arouse their combativeness, and thus do more harm than good. Do not watch others in order to point out their faults or errors. Teach by example. Let your self-denial and your victory over appetite be an illustration of obedience to right principles. Let your life bear witness to the sanctifying, ennobling influence of truth.6T 336.3

    Of all the gifts that God has bestowed upon men, none is more precious than the gift of speech. If sanctified by the Holy Spirit, it is a power for good. It is with the tongue that we convince and persuade; with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we convey rich thoughts of the Redeemer's love. By a right use of the gift of speech the canvasser can sow the precious seeds of truth in many hearts.6T 337.1

    *****

    Integrity in Business. The work is halting because gospel principles are not obeyed by those who claim to be following Christ. The loose way in which some canvassers, both old and young, have performed their work shows that they have important lessons to learn. Much haphazard work has been presented before me. Some have trained themselves in deficient habits, and this deficiency has been brought into the work of God. The tract and missionary societies have been deeply involved in debt through the failure of canvassers to meet their indebtedness. Canvassers have felt that they were ill-treated if required to pay promptly for the books received from the publishing houses. Yet to require prompt remittal is the only way to carry on business.6T 337.2

    *****

    Matters should be so arranged that canvassers shall have enough to live on without overdrawing. This door of temptation must be closed and barred. However honest a canvasser may be, circumstances will arise in his work which will be to him a sore temptation.6T 337.3

    *****

    Laziness and indolence are not the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. No soul can practice prevarication or dishonesty in handling the Lord's goods and stand guiltless before God. All who do this are in action denying Christ. While they profess to keep and teach God's law, they fail to maintain its principles.6T 337.4

    The Lord's goods should be handled with faithfulness. The Lord has entrusted men with life and health and reasoning powers, He has given them physical and mental strength to be exercised; and should not these gifts be faithfully and diligently employed to His name's glory? Have our brethren considered that they must give an account for all the talents placed in their possession? Have they traded wisely with their Lord's goods, or have they spent His substance recklessly, and are they written in heaven as unfaithful servants? Many are spending their Lord's money in riotous enjoyment, so called; they are not gaining an experience in self-denial, but spending money on vanities, and are failing to bear the cross after Jesus. Many who were privileged with precious, God-given opportunities have wasted their lives and are now found in suffering and want.6T 338.1

    God calls for decided improvement to be made in the various branches of the work. The business done in connection with the cause of God must be marked with greater precision and exactness. There has not been firm, decided effort to bring about essential reform.6T 338.2

    *****

    A Knowledge of Their Book. Canvassers should thoroughly acquaint themselves with the book they are handling and be able readily to call attention to the important chapters.6T 338.3

    *****

    Colporteur Work. The canvasser should carry with him tracts, pamphlets, and small books to give to those who cannot buy. In this way the truth can be introduced into many homes.6T 338.4

    Diligence. When the canvasser enters upon his work, he should not allow himself to be diverted, but should intelligently keep to the point with all diligence. And yet, while he is doing his canvassing, he should not be heedless of opportunities to help souls who are seeking for light and who need the consolation of the Scriptures. If the canvasser walks with God, if he prays for heavenly wisdom that he may do good and only good in his labor, he will be quick to discern his opportunities and the needs of the souls with whom he comes in contact. He will make the most of every opportunity for drawing souls to Christ. In the spirit of Christ he will be ready to speak a word to him that is weary.6T 339.1

    *****

    By diligence in canvassing, by faithfully presenting to the people the cross of Calvary, the canvasser doubles his powers of usefulness. But while we present methods of work we cannot lay out an undeviating line in which everyone shall move, for circumstances alter cases. God will impress those whose hearts are open to truth and who are longing for guidance. He will say to His human agent: “Speak to this one or to that one of the love of Jesus.” No sooner is the name of Jesus mentioned in love and tenderness than angels of God draw near to soften and subdue the heart.6T 339.2

    Let canvassers be faithful students, learning how to make their work successful; and while thus employed, let them keep their eyes and ears and understanding open to receive wisdom from God, that they may know how to help those who are perishing for lack of a knowledge of Christ. Let every worker concentrate his energies and use his powers for the highest of all service, to recover men from the snare of Satan and bind them to God, making the chain of dependence through Jesus Christ fast to the throne encircled with the rainbow of promise.6T 339.3

    *****

    Assurance of Success. A great and good work may be done by evangelistic canvassing. The Lord has given men tact and capabilities. Those who use these entrusted talents to His glory, weaving Bible principles into the web, will be given success. We are to work and pray, putting our trust in Him who will never fail.6T 340.1

    *****

    Let canvassing evangelists give themselves up to be worked by the Holy Spirit. Let them by persevering prayer take hold of the power which comes from God, trusting in Him in living faith. His great and effectual influence will be with every true, faithful worker.6T 340.2

    As God blesses the minister and the evangelist in their earnest efforts to place the truth before the people, so He will bless the faithful canvasser.6T 340.3

    *****

    The humble, efficient worker who obediently responds to the call of God may be sure of receiving divine assistance. To feel so great and holy a responsibility is of itself elevating to the character. It calls into action the highest mental qualities, and their continued exercise strengthens and purifies mind and heart. The influence upon one's own life, as well as upon the life of others, is incalculable.6T 340.4

    Careless spectators may not appreciate your work or see its importance. They may think it a losing business, a life of thankless labor and self-sacrifice. But the servant of Jesus sees it in the light shining from the cross. His sacrifices appear small in comparison with those of the blessed Master, and he is glad to follow in His steps. The success of his labor affords him the purest joy and is the richest recompense for a life of patient toil.6T 340.5

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