My mother became an Adventist as a teenager in the late ‘30s (she’s now 98), along with her seven sisters and her mother. Their departure from the local Congregational church, where they had been very active, left vacant pews and the members scratching their heads. It also produced resentment, even prejudice.
. . . while not every book or magazine shared produces immediate fruit for the kingdom, eventually it may.
One of the first things the family did as new Seventh-day Adventists, with a duty to witness, was to share their faith. And what better way than by using Signs of the Times magazine? So when the Signs campaign of 1937 came round, they sponsored more than a few subscriptions, mostly for their Congregational brothers and sisters, whom they anticipated would love to hear the “truth”.
How proud Mother was to enter the township store, which also served as the post office, and see tucked in the mail pigeon holes, row upon row of magazines they’d paid for! They couldn’t wait to see their effect.
Well, they didn’t have to wait long. As they left home the next morning, there strewn across their front lawn were mangled, discarded magazines, a stringent message to cease and desist!
We are all called to witness, to broadcast the gospel seed wherever we live, be it accepted or otherwise. And Christ cautioned that some efforts would fall on stony ground and fail to take root, as in Mother’s case. Rejection certainly didn’t quell her enthusiasm for sharing Signs, which nearly 80 years on, she still does. In latter years, it has been with acquaintances and friends, which when combined with DVDs, cuppas and cakes, have produced souls for Christ.
But what of all those magazines you have sent out year after year? Wasted? Or the some 300 booklets Signs has given out to seekers over the past year. Discarded?
An inmate in a Sydney prison recounted his experience: “I discovered several Signs of the Times in the [prison] library. Through the publication, I learned of the [Discovery] study courses. . . . I have particularly enjoyed the ‘Taking Charge’ series, as it challenges me to look into my life and make a realistic assessment of it—a change for the better. . . . On my release from prison, I would like to join a church and perhaps work in a ministry with other inmates, sharing God’s love and blessings.”
That’s seed on fertile soil. And while not every book or magazine shared produces immediate fruit for the kingdom, eventually it may. According to Ellen White, some efforts remain dormant—like a seed in dry desert soil awaiting the God-given conditions for germination—even to the moments immediately before Christ comes: “The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence. . . . Now the rays of light penetrate . . . the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them” (Great Controversy, p612).
Sow Signs, and change a life for eternity!
Click HERE to learn more about this year’s Signs of the Times campaign.
Lee Dunstan is editor of Signs of the Times.