Evangelism in Christian Education

Current Field Training Notes.

By L. A. Semmens, Dean of Theology, Washington Missionary College

Evangelism in the program of Chris­tian education may be compared to the proverbial scarlet thread that runs through all rope used in the British navy. Wherever you find Christian education, you must also find evangelism. Hence the out­standing objective in the college curriculum should be to evangelize every subject that is taught, or to use every subject that is taught to accomplish the purposes of evangelism. The mightiest appeal that Christian educators can make to their students is ever to keep the purpose before them that they are training to be evangelists. Evangelism in Christian edu­cation is the most sacred obligation, the noblest work, ever entrusted to any generation that has come upon the stage of action.

In its broadest, and even in its narrowest, sense, all Christian education worthy of the name must train men and women for gospel ministry. This in itself presupposes and sup­ports an individual experimental knowledge in the things of God. In its very essence, Chris­tian education is individualistic. What free­dom, therefore, may be experienced by the stu­dent when he comes to meet the requirements of the curriculum in Christian education. This challenge is met as he intensifies his studies further, and enhances his efficiency, by using works written by the pen of inspiration as a text in learning methods of evangelism.

Such books as "Gospel Workers," "Testi­monies to Ministers," "Christ's Object Les­sons," and "Ministry of Healing" are without rivals. As the student studies these works, his soul is fired with a new determination to dedi­cate all his talents as never before, whether they be in English, business, science, education, or what not, to the service of God and hu­manity, and specifically to the requirements of the third angel's message, which is to go to all the world in this generation.

Tested by Seventh-day Adventist Principles

The principles found in these books give a perfect plan of organization, and reveal meth­ods by which divine organization may be used to accomplish the purposes of heaven in behalf of mankind. The motivating power is also found in the divine principles of action therein enunciated. It is axiomatic and fundamental that if students are to be trained for the Seventh-day Adventist ministry, they must be tested by Seventh-day Adventist principles. These principles are not found in works writ­ten by those who do not have Seventh-day Adventist objectives, for Seventh-day Ad­ventist objectives are found in the Bible, and more specifically in the Spirit of prophecy. These latter were given as a gift to God's peo­ple that they might know the oracles of God, and be actuated and motivated by them in their preparation for service.

Such principles as these have been the goal of the theological students of Washington Mis­sionary College. During the school year 1940­41 God has greatly blessed this department with eighteen graduates. The organization of their field work has been based on a plan similar to that of an ordinary conference. The young people in the three pastoral training classes have been divided into nine specific groups, and have held public efforts in nine different communities in the immediate vicinity of Washington, D. C.

Each group has been allowed a budget of $75. With this amount it has prosecuted its work for the last eight months. The disbursement of these funds has devolved upon an executive committee from the group, with a treasurer who is responsible to the central treasurer at the college. Public meetings in the efforts have been held once or twice a week. Cottage meet­ings, Bible readings, cooking schools, and home-nursing classes have been formed in the communities in which the groups have worked. A department for the sale of literature has been connected with each effort, which has been effective in distributing books and papers. These have all played their part in the upper­most objective—soul winning.

Two senior young men have been placed in charge of the group, and have been the guiding lights in the direction that has been given the work in each effort. These efforts have become training schools. Connected with each have been two or more junior students, who, in their senior year, will lead in other efforts, or con­tinue the ones already in progress. At the end of the school year the interest will be followed up by those who have been educated in this way as the year has progressed. There is, therefore, a continuity of student preachers who have been trained in the principles used by those who have preceded them into the or­ganized work. Such a feature is a stabilizing factor to the work the year round. This has led, in the last four and one-half years, to the organizing of one church of fifty-five members, with a braneh Sabbath school of more than one hundred, and three companies. The financial returns to the conference from these various projects have been most gratifying. The new church alone, in its four years of operation, has brought into the local conference treasury about $15,000. This is the outcome of an investment by the conference, in this particular project, of only $282. We are looking forward to the time when the three companies can be organized into church bodies. This past school year it has been my privilege to baptize twenty-two candidates as a result of student efforts. These have been duly examined by the respec­tive boards of the churches of which they ex­pect to become members. There are at least thirty more candidates who are anticipating baptism in the very near future.

The young people from the college believe in doing thorough work. The health message that is peculiar to us as a people has been used very effectively in some difficult communities in which they have labored, to break down bar­riers of prejudice. One group that has been most productive in its results has used this method. It now has fourteen to twenty candi­dates ready for baptism. This effort has brought between $400 and $500 into the treas­ury.

This is evangelism in Christian education. It operates in two ways. The students receive an experience while they are going through school and learning how to win souls, and on the other hand they bring the evangelistic spirit into every department of the college. This is in harmony with the instruction that God has given in "Counsels to Teachers," page 431:

"The Bible teacher should be one who is able to teach the students how to present the truths of the word of God in a clear, winning manner in public, and how to do effective evangelistic work from house to house. It is essential that he be skillful in teach­ing those who have a desire to work for the Master, how to use wisely that which they have learned. He should instruct the students to approach the study of the Bible in the spirit of humility, to search its pages, not for proof to sustain human opinions, but with a sincere desire to know what God has said.

"Early in their experience our students should be taught to become Bible workers. Those who are consecrated and teachable may have success in active service for Christ while pursuing their courses of study. If they spend much time in prayer, if they humbly take counsel from their instructors, they will grow in a knowledge of how to work for souls. And when they go forth into the great harvest-field, they may with confidence pray, 'Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us : and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.' Ps. 90 :i7."

The sum total of evangelism in Christian education is thus described. It is wisdom, for the wise man said, "He that winneth souls is wise." We are told again, "And with all thy getting get understanding." Prov. 4:7.

On Sabbath morning, April 26, our senior theological students took charge of two serv­ices held in the Sligo church, one at 9 o'clock and the other at eleven-thirty. The students reported on the progress of their field work. Their presentations, which were designed to educate the church members to a more definite ministry on their part in the salvation of souls, followed the evangelistic principles set forth in Christian education. These principles were set forth by four chosen speakers in each service, who were supported by the rest of their class­mates in offering the prayers, furnishing the special music, and pronouncing the benediction. Thus were achieved two purposes—the young people gained an experience in the presentation of their themes, and the members of the church were much edified, blessed, and stimulated to further service by the good reports brought to them by the heritage of the church—its young people.

Dedication Sabbath for Theological Students

The following Sabbath, May 3, was dedica­tion Sabbath for the theological department of Washington Missionary College. At the nine o'clock hour the young men marched into the pulpit. Immediately the ministers entered, led by D. E. Rebok, associate professor of Bible ; L. A. Semnaens, director of the Bible depart­ment; H. J. Detwiler, president of the Columbia Union Conference ; L. E. Froom, secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference; and C. J. Coon, pastor of the Sligo church.

After the invocation Elder Froom offered a prayer of dedication. Elder Detwiler led out with a stirring address, a charge to the young men regarding. their responsibility at such an hour as this, and an appeal to the church for greater activity in service. The demands of the 'third angel's message were clearly pre­sented, with a description of the experience necessary to the advancement of the objectives set forth by the three-fold message of Revela­tion 14:6-14. The sacredness of our respon­sibility in ministry was also given due em­phasis. In all, it was a mighty challenge to the advent people to arise and finish the work.

After this appeal, the director of the theo­logical department, on the recommendation of the faculty, and in behalf of the Columbia Union Conference, presented a ministerial license to each of the fourteen young people on the platform, naming in each case the field to which the various young men had been called to service. The others were summer-school graduates. Elder Rebok, in pronouncing the benediction, invoked the blessing of God on the group as a whole, and each one in par­ticular. Thus ended one of the best dedicatory services for young people entering the ministry, that has been held in Washington Mis­sionary College.

Later in the afternoon, in the Capital-Memo­rial church, the eighteen young men related their field experiences in brief, terse reports. Subsequent to this inspirational meeting, all went to the ground floor of the church, where it was my happy privilege to baptize thirty-one persons, twenty-two of whom were candidates from the various efforts. God was very near us in this service. Thus culminated, for the department of theology of Washington Mis­sionary College, the heyday of the school year 1940-41, with the very definite results of evan­gelism in Christian education.

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By L. A. Semmens, Dean of Theology, Washington Missionary College

October 1941

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