Tent evangelism, often considered an outdated method of evangelism, recently demonstrated its continued effectiveness through a joint evangelism event. The Atlantic Union, with the support and assistance of the Southern Union, recently hosted a 20-day System for Survival evangelistic initiative. The endeavor reaped 253 baptisms.
The meetings took place in a 270-person tent set up in a vacant lot in Buffalo, New York. This location was selected because it is situated on the corner of two of the busiest streets in Buffalo. While the lot was owned by a local Seventh-day Adventist church, making it free to use, special permits had to be obtained to host the event at this location.
“It was on a very busy intersection, and we figured we’d get more marketability and more visibility by being on that corner — which actually worked,” said Ron C. Smith, D.Min., Ph.D., Southern Union president and key speaker for the initiative.
To lead the initiative, Smith used materials from his ministry, System for Survival, which is supported by the Southern Union. Nightly, a packed tent watched health and financial video talks by Jim Davidson, Southern Union executive secretary, and David Freedman, Southern Union treasurer. The attendees were given gifts like interactive children’s Bibles, Andrews Study Bibles, and T-shirts. Participants who had completed a Community Bible Survey, a form of Bible study, were given a framed photo with Smith, and could participate in a reception following the event. Smith said the reception allowed attendees an opportunity to fellowship.
Smith emphasized the meetings were designed to engage community members. Many individuals who were not yet baptized were asked to assist in the meetings in various ways. They would be asked to help run the registration table, hand out prizes, give people baptismal robes, among other things. Smith said he found that the sooner community people are engaged in responsibilities, they keep coming back because they feel needed and appreciated.
In addition to his nightly seminars, Smith also used System of Survival materials to conduct a field school. The field school happened daily from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., except on Sabbaths, and were offered to local Seventh-day Adventist pastors and Bible workers.
“We want to train our members to bring souls to Christ,” said Smith. “And we want to inspire our colleagues to keep their eye on the most important dimension of our work — that is to be involved in the work of evangelism.”
The Atlantic Union Conference’s mission is “United We Go to Grow God’s Kingdom.” As a united effort between the Southern and Atlantic Unions, Pierre E. Omeler, D.D., Atlantic Union president, said he feels this event was an excellent representation of the Union’s mission. “This was a classic example of what we can do for the cause of God when we are united,” said Omeler.
Omeler said he is very thankful for the support of the Southern Union in helping make this tent evangelistic effort possible. “On behalf of the members of the Atlantic Union Conference, I want to express my most sincere gratitude to Dr. Ron Smith and his fellow administrators for their great support both financially and with their presence,” said Omeler.
The Southern Union, which leads the North American Division (NAD) with the most baptisms and professions of faith, according to the most recent NAD Secretary’s Statistical Report, desires to expand God’s Kingdom both within and beyond the Southern Union territory. These meetings resulted partially from a discussion among union presidents within the NAD to grow Division membership. According to Smith, the union presidents wanted to inspire one another by exchanging evangelistic opportunities.
“The purpose of partnership is to motivate one another, to get involved in soul-winning to a greater degree,” said Smith.
Currently, the Southern Union plans to partner with the Pacific Union to host evangelistic meetings in December.
Southern Union | October 2023