In South Africa we are working with people converted from the world, or denominationalism. In my experience, a majority of those baptized will fall away. I think that this may be true in the United States, too. You might go back in your memory and see if the majority of people who have no relatives or close friends in the church have fallen away or have proved faithful. But here in South Africa, the vast majority of baptisms are of people without close relatives in the church, and my experience is that the majority of them have fallen away.
There may be some special reasons why this is so in South Africa. One is that people, especially poor blacks, may be attracted by being able to associate with a “rich” white man who can help them. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do about that except to make sure we are simply preaching the truth. Others fall away when they find that the life of a Christian can be, and usually is, a hard life. Being isolated from family and friends is a difficult situation. And this applies to whites and blacks. One of the first ones we baptized in South Africa was Allie Botha. His friend had attended our first neighborhood gospel meeting and had told him about us. Allie then heard and happily confessed his faith and was baptized. Later his wife was baptized. And I had great hopes for Allie. He had a great personality, was full of energy, and was on the right track. But only for a time. Plain old worldliness took over, and he wound up virtually an atheist.
But that is not all of the story. Through Allie, his sister and his mother were converted. They remained faithful the rest of their lives. Sister Smith is another. She came to our neighborhood gospel meeting in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg. She had been so serious about the Jehovah’s Witness religion that she was witnessing door-to-door. The Witnesses were teaching at that time that everything was going to be wound up by 1975. (I had a session at Allie’s house with two of their young men, workers at the JW publishing house, about this date. They assured me that everything would be wound up BEFORE 1975. I urged them not to lose faith in God when that failed to come, but to visit me and I would help them understand the Bible. But I didn’t see them again.) But Mrs. Smith woke up with a shock when her high school daughter came home with low grades. “But, honey, you want to become a doctor!” “Mother, if Jesus is going to come back in 1975, why would I become a doctor?” And when Mrs. Smith heard the gospel, she, her daughter and her mother were baptized and worshiped with us in the YMCA.
One Sunday morning Sis. Strydom came back from a visit to Durban. The regular preacher, Piet Joubert, was gone for a while and Fred Liggin was preaching in his place. In the Sunday morning class he showed that the only divorced person who has the right to remarry is the one who divorced his or her mate for the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9). He explained that this means that if a person who is unscripturally divorced and remarried should be baptized, he or she must leave the mate with whom he or she has been committing adultery. (Peit Joubert did not teach this.) So when Sis. Strydom came back to Johannesburg, she asked about this. I affirmed that Bro. Liggin was correct. Then came the bombshell. Sis. Smith said, “That person is me. I broke up my husband’s first marriage to marry him. And I am not going to leave him.” And we didn’t see her again. So, to grow in numbers we had to baptize at least twice as many as were going to remain faithful. We kept on working at it, and at strengthening Christians. And there was continuing growth in the Johannesburg church.