Strengthening Native Workers

Today we have a goodly number of well-tried, devoted, ordained native min­isters and evangelists in Africa.

By J. F. WRIGHT, President, Southern African Division

Today we have a goodly number of well-tried, devoted, ordained native min­isters and evangelists in Africa. They have come up from pioneer days through the "school of hard knocks," not having been privileged in their youth to enjoy the benefits of Christian education such as is offered to the young men of the present generation. In not a few instances, these men have proved their worth, however, as splendid soul win­ners. God has richly blessed their labors, but they have often been limited in their sphere of usefulness, because their training for the work was meager. So it has become necessary to give very earnest study to how best to help this class of workers. Doubtless what we faced in South Africa in this connection has been faced in other fields, and our experience may prove helpful to others.

Bible Scholars.—In some of the fields, Bible schools have been conducted annually, and in others they have had to alternate with the teachers' institutes, coming every other year. Naturally, the work attempted had to be of a simple character and very practical. Only the bare essentials could be covered. The time allotted ran anywhere from three to four weeks, or longer as conditions would permit. In an endeavor to unify this type of work un­dertaken in the various fields, our division Ministerial Association secretary some years ago worked out a special set of lessons for the purpose. Before placing these in the field for use, he had them reviewed by a number of our European missionaries experienced in native evangelism. They knew the need, and could thus be of great help in guiding the preparation of material for the Bible-school work. Among the essential points covered by the lessons, the following are thoroughly set forth:

1. Life and work of the gospel minister.

2. Self-improvement by way of the native MM­isterial Reading Course.

3. How to conduct an effort.

4. How to approach people in the most tactful manner.

5. How to arrange and present the doctrines in the most simple, direct way.

6. How to prepare the sermon.

7. How to meet objections.

8. How to make a call for new converts.

9. How to bring people to a decision for Christ.

10. How to bind off the effort.

11. How to conduct the baptismal class.

12. How to carefully examine candidates for baptism.

In fact, the object aimed at throughout the entire institute was to cover the most outstand­ing essentials in a well-rounded-off effort and follow-up work. The question hour which was conducted each day gave the workers op­portunity to set forth their perplexing ques­tions for study and counsel. An attempt was made to keep the questions within the bounds of the work covered. Foolish and far-fetched questions were tactfully avoided. The time at best is always limited in these schools; hence time must not be wasted in discussing that which has no particular bearing upon the work in hand.

Conducting Field Efforts.—Where the season of the year will permit and it can be arranged, the plan has been for native minis­ters and evangelists to go directly from the Bible school right into an effort of their own, or at least to assist in one. It has been found to be very advantageous to all concerned to follow such a course of action as this while everything is fresh in the mind, and the heart burns with a passion for souls. When this plan is followed, the work covered by the Bible school has been all the more successful in achieving the most results in winning souls.

Naturally, it must be added that this plan has required conducting several institutes in the various fields to gain anywhere near the desired end. At first the older men found it somewhat difficult to get down to hard study and grasp the work undertaken, but they per­severed, and their attitude gave us courage to press on with new vigor. Today we find the men very eager for these annual gather­ings where they can learn more efficient plans and methods under the wholesome instruction given. Really, it is most heartening to see how earnestly the men are striving to make good. Surely the time and expense is worthwhile. In fact, it is a consensus of opinion that this step is one of the most aggressive and fruitful we have taken in many years.

Home-Life Problems.—In some cases it has been possible to invite some of the native min­isters' wives to the Bible school. Where this can be arranged, a number of studies have been given on home life. These have touched upon the responsibilities of fathers and moth­ers in the home, the rearing of children, the influence of a well-ordered home upon community life, and the duty of the wife as a coworker with her husband in service. In general, the women have responded most heart­ily to the instruction offered. As a result, they have returned to their homes to cooperate better with their husbands in the discharge of every effort put forth to uplift the native peo­ple and prepare them for a life in the home hereafter.

Assuredly, the more we can do to build up a capable, well-instructed native ministry in all mission lands, the greater strides we will make in pushing forward our world mission­ary program everywhere. Such a ministry will win more souls, and will help to bear the burdens more fully. Indeed, they will wield a tremendous power in helping us to complete the stupendous task that yet confronts the church of God in all lands.

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By J. F. WRIGHT, President, Southern African Division

October 1939

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