I have been deeply impressed with the need of strong ministerial and pastoral training. We shall need great numbers of those qualified through consecration and training to enter the doors I now open before us, in order to finish God's precious work here in the East. As a young man I responded to a call to go to China as one of our first missionaries to that field. My training was that of a physician, and I valued the knowledge of medicine that helped me to care for my health, and served as a means of gaining the attention of the people. But the needs of the situation demanded that we give attention to preaching the gospel, for we had no converts, and we were sent there to establish a Seventh-day Adventist church.
No amount of medical knowledge was going to do that; for we could have treated thousands of people who would have been grateful to us and said nice things about us, and yet not have had a Seventh-day Adventist among them. So we had to preach the message and teach it, and translate gospel literature and circulate it. It was clearly evident that by our medical work we were not doing much for these poor people, if we could not see them saved eternally, and the gospel message was essential to that end. We then saw that in God's work everything is secondary to the work of the gospel minister.
"To labor for God and for the salvation of souls is the highest and noblest calling that men ever had or ever can have."—"Testimonies," Vol. V. p. 411
In fact, we were able to -use but little of-the - much technical and scientific material we had learned in the medical college; and in reality a gospel minister with much less medical training would have been enabled to render equivalent help to the people. They were in need of the most elementary and the simplest things in health education to correct their disease-producing habits.
We know that in the days of Israel there were no doctors as such. The priests had some medical training, and the sick were brought to them, and they were to educate the people in rational living. Further, they were to pass on any suspicious type of sickness that might require quarantine. (See Leviticus 13.) We know about Christ's work and His training for it by what He accomplished. But while constantly ministering to the sick, His mission was to save the lost. Patients may be grateful for their recovery from illness, but we know that the happiest people in all the world are those who have been led to a knowledge of their Saviour and have the hope of eternal life. Such gratitude is the kind that wears, and the satisfaction the gospel minister gets from his service is, I think, the greatest in all the world.
Many who have the training for the ministry are wanted and needed to fill the large gaps in unoccupied portions of mission lands; and this will be increasingly the case as we go on with this movement to its close. The ministry will ever occupy the chief place in the third angel's message, and without it we would have only a mere organization doing humanitarian work. We long to see an army of young people in preparation for the ministry who can work as God's special messengers and with His blessing. The need of sum is greatertoday than ever before in mission lands.