NINE OUT OF TEN NEWBORNS DIE!
IRVIN BAXTER JR.
What community in the United States of America or, for that part, in the world would stand idly by while nine newborn children out of ten were lost while yet infants? What kind of an uproar would be created by the headlines in your local newspaper that told that nine of every ten babies born in your hospital nursery were stricken with some mysterious disease and perished?
This would just be an intolerable state of affairs! All emergency measures would have to be marshalled. The public outcry would be so violent that specialists would be called in from all parts of the country to find out what strange plague had come to the community with this type of an infant mortality rate. It would just be unthinkable for nine mothers out of ten to leave the hospital with empty arms and with cribs yet unoccupied in their homes. What a scandal that the hospital staff was so inept and the doctors were so unskilled that only one baby in ten was able to survive! It’s just unheard of in even the most
primitive of conditions.
Yet this is the situation in the present Jesus name movement. A church that in a year sees one hundred people receive the Holy Ghost, many times retains only ten or fifteen by the end of the year. The rest
remain only a statistic in a terrible infant mortality rate. I’m sure you can see what a tremendous change could be brought about in the growth pattern of the Kingdom of God if this situation could be improved. Think of the many more souls that would be saved if only we could lower our infant mortality rate.
Are we looking for excuses why we should fail rather than looking for reasons to succeed?
Does it have to Happen?
Do we have any power as the body of Christ to preserve our offspring? Do we have to merely accept this dreadful loss of spiritual life that should bring joy, but instead the vast majority of the time brings demoralization? Do we have to see what we have labored for so fervently swept away within a week’s time or within a month’s time? Is there anything we can do to change this pattern of Pentecost? There must be!
What experienced preacher among us has not observed that some churches have a much higher retention rate than others. All of the spiritual operations given to us by God are hinged upon cause and effect. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” As we studied the religious movements of history, we found that some of them experienced tremendously high
retention rates of newborn babes.
An evangelist traveling for eight years through our movement, I observed that some of the churches that I preached for had a much greater retention percentage than others. When I hooked onto my trailer and pulled away from some churches, I had a good feeling that the souls that I had labored to wrench from the grasp of Satan would be cared for and nurtured; that they would grow and be strong when I returned later. There were others that I did not feel so comfortable about as I told the congregation goodbye. I just feared for the health of the newborn.
If there is nothing that we can do, then why do we try at all? If the efforts of a concerned church and pastor can do nothing to increase the likelihood of survival of the newborn, why ever go visit a new convert? Why not throw them to the wolves immediately? Why knock on their door when they miss church if nothing that we do will change the percentage of retention? We first must settle it in our mind that we can have an influence and that there is something that we can do.
What then is the Answer?
There is not any single answer, but there are a few things that we can learn. The first is: fellowship and attention. A babe requires more attention when first born than at any other time of his life. He doesn’t know how to feed himself. He does not know how to dress himself. He has been thrust into a whole new world.
This exact same thing is true of a spiritual babe. That spiritual babe needs almost twenty-four-hour care for the first few months of his existence. He has been brought into a whole new world. His old friends do not understand him. They are trying to destroy this new life that is replacing his old life that they were so fond of. What chance would a newborn babe have if there were no mother to carry it in her arms, or no
family to gather around the crib; if there were no older brother or sister to help teach it to walk, to teach it to talk, to hold it when it cried, to comfort it when it was frightened. What chance would such a child have of survival? Maybe one in ten.
I asked a saint that had been successful in soul-winning what she felt was the most important thing in winning and establishing new converts. Not only had she been able to win souls, but the souls that she won were normally stable. The reply I received was this: “Mainly you just have to fellowship with them. You have to almost live with them for the first three to six months that they are saved. You have to answer their questions, help them solve their problems, become their best friend, have them over to your house, teach them how to pray, and teach them the Word of God.”
But motherhood is such a bother! The more self-centered our society becomes, the fewer children our families want to have. Motherhood is so confining. It interferes with weekend boating trips. It interferes with our weekly fishing outing. The baby just cries so often! It seems like the demands are so great!
What young mother has not had her life totally revolutionized by the coming of a new one into the home? No longer is she the footloose, fancy-free seventeen year old; but now she has begotten life. There is the continual feeding schedule, the changing of diapers, the washing of clothes, the getting to sleep, the nursing of wounds, the teaching to talk and the teaching to walk. Everywhere the mother goes the child is there. It is a full time job-motherhood.
Why do we lose nine of ten? Because so many of us in Pentecost do not want the bother of motherhood. In this busy society the thorns have choked us so that we have become unfruitful. The most important thing the new convert needs is love. There must be someone who cares, someone who will look after that babe until it can stand on its own two feet.
That is not just the job of a Pastor by any means. He will only be able to retain a small percentage. The attention required by “mother” will never be able to be supplied by the doctor that delivered the child, for the doctor would soon be grievously overtaxed. He simply could not keep up. But when he lays that child in that mother’s arms and sends her home, she has a job to do. The day for one man accomplishment is over. The Church must become totally involved as the body of Christ.
The second thing is teaching. It has been observed that individuals won to the Lord through Home Bible Study usually are much more stable than those who go to the altar the first night they attend service, with no previous instruction. When the new convert has a foundation of God’s Word, it tends to make him much more stable.
This principle is taught in the Scriptures. The Bible says that we should have our loins girt about with truth The leather girdle that was used by warriors in Bible days was to hold their loins firm and to keep
them from collapsing in the time of extreme fatigue. Truth is the thing that stabilizes us and keeps us steady and firm. The more truth that an individual has in his heart, the more stable he will be.
If a new convert is not won by means of Home Bible Study, the first thing that should happen is to enroll that convert in a study so that he may become established in the truth. There is more to this salvation than a spiritual experience. Jesus said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The Bible teaches that pastors are to feed the flock with knowledge and under-standing.
Knowledge and understanding will make the flock strong. David said: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” We may wonder why new converts do not grow into productive Christians. Many times it is because of a lack of knowledge. The Bible teaches: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
In the secular world we take such great pains to educate our children. With great concern we insist that they go through twelve years of full time training until they receive a high school diploma. A great percentage of our population now go on to college.
Yet, when it comes to spiritual understanding, we are so negligent. We bring an individual into the church a babe and immediately put him on the same diet with an individual that has been saved for
thirty years. We have very little, if any, graduated training. Many times the new convert sits with questions in his mind for years. Satan exploits these questions to sow doubt. Doubt destroys faith, and without faith the new convert will fall. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
In the secular world the teaching occupation is one of the largest occupations that we have. We have millions of teachers in America making their way to the classrooms and imparting knowledge needed for the proper participation in our present society. Yet our spiritual education is often so haphazard! The office of the God-called teacher has been all but nonexistent among us. If a man feels he’s called to teach, there is very little room for the exercise of his ministry. Then we wonder why the mother is so weak and unable to strengthen the babes which are born. We wonder why there is no milk flowing to the babes that they might be able to become strong quickly and aggressively. These are questions that we would rather avoid. They make us uncomfortable when we think of what we really need to do to see a great revival. Why should God give us a great revival if nine out of the ten that he gives us will be lost?
It was the Good Shepherd that left the ninety and nine safe in the fold and went out looking for the one lost sheep. Many times new converts can miss church, and no one ever knocks on their door to find out where they are or what their problem is. The New Testament Church filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. Every individual that they got hold of was indoctrinated with the wonderful, glorious truths of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
The last thing we must discuss in retaining new converts is to realize that the atmosphere they were born in must be maintained in order for them to live. So many times the highest spiritual peak that a new convert attains is the night that they pressed through to the wonderful baptism of the Holy Ghost. This certainly should not be! Our services, many times, become rituals of three songs, testimony service, a special by the choir, a sermon, an altar invitation-and then home. There has been lost many times the spontaneous worship, the old-time preaching, praying, singing, shouting.
But that is the atmosphere of the new convert. He must have it to breathe. He was born in the intense presence of the Holy Ghost. It came upon him. It caused him to speak a language that he had never learned. Now shall he exist service after service with very little or no unction?
Shall he be satisfied with no rushing, mighty wind? He will not be satisfied! After while Satan will say to him: “It was all an illusion. Maybe you didn’t really receive the Holy Ghost.” The Bible tells us plainly: “but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” There must be a Lively, flowing move of the presence of God in our services and in our prayer meetings in order for that new babe to breathe the fresh oxygen that will cause his body to function. How many young converts have suffocated beneath the ritual of three songs, dead services, sterile testimonies, and canned sermons?
If we could retain seven converts out of ten or eight out of ten, what sudden, dramatic change would come over the Jesus name Pentecostal movement within one year’s time! Churches would experience unprecedented growth. New evangelistic fervor would flame when workers saw that their labors did not quickly vanish in the wind. There would be a new enthusiasm for bringing in those loved ones when saints saw new converts making strong saints. The new saints in turn would bring their friends. We lose our best reservoir of new contacts when we lose the new convert himself.
Can we rock ourselves to sleep on this matter? Can we make excuses why it happens? Are we looking for excuses why we should fail rather than looking for reasons to succeed? In these times, if we are to truly have a revival to close out this age, we must first come to grips with the infants who die among us.
Brother Baxter is pastor of the United Pentecostal Church of Richmond, Indiana. This message was prepared for the special Harvestime issue.