The Ministerial Seminar has come to be a familiar institution around most Seventh-day Adventist colleges. Together with its sister association, the Foreign Mission Band, it is coming into its rightful place of recognition as a powerful adjunct in the educating of a mission-conscious student body. We are a missionary people, and devote a large portion of our time, money, personnel, and effort to the opening and expanding of soul-saving work in all parts of the world.
In view of this fact it becomes increasingly imperative to employ every facility which will help to keep our youth aware of the importance of missions, stimulate consecration to mission service, educate to the prime requisites of character and ability which the various fields demand, keep posted on current progress and problems in all fields, and allay every unfounded fear and misgiving which times such as these might tend to foster concerning the present and future of our mission program in lands influenced by the war.
The Foreign Mission Band can be made to fulfill all these functions. As an example of the unusual programs that can be given, a recent meeting which brought out a wealth of valuable information is mentioned for consideration. On the afternoon of March 21, the Foreign Mission Band of Washington Missionary College held an open forum to consider questions relative to current problems in the world field. L. A. Semmens, theological dean of the college, acted as chairman, directing the questions to one of the several men on the platform who represented the various fields and activities under question: Roger Altman, representing South America; E. D. Dick, Africa ; L. H. Christian, Europe and Russia; A. W. Cormack, India; and D. E. Rebok, China. Each of these men had spent years of active labor in the field represented, and was well qualified to give authoritative answers to the questions.
The audience had been urged beforehand to think out queries and submit them in written form at the meeting. It seems that both college and community were vitally interested in this proposition, for one of the largest audiences ever present at the Foreign Mission Band turned out, in spite of rain and a new hour of meeting. What is more important, they submitted scores of well-defined, pertinent questions-so many, in fact, that the brethren were able to answer only a small percentage of them in the time allotted the meeting.
The meeting was conducted in the form of a panel discussion. The topics brought up for discussion included the conditions and possibilities for missions in war-closed countries; the supposedly closed country of Brazil; expanding hopes in Africa, South America, and even Russia; the present need for more young missionaries; the prime qualifications for young people planning to enter mission service, and how to get an appointment for foreign service. In the consideration of each topic, there was a frank and consistent optimism that put new courage and determination into the hearts of all those present. The freedom of discussion often brought more than one man to his feet to add another part to the word picture being formed, thus presenting a clear conception of conditions and needs extant in the world.
Prime interest centered about South America, and Brazil in particular. In answer to numerous queries concerning the recent edict prohibiting entrance of new foreign workers into Brazil, it was made clear that none of the established or returned workers were affected at present by the order. Those in Brazi.1 now may remain, and those workers from Brazil now in the States may return and resume their labors.
All other countries in South America, as well as Inter-America, are still wide open to as many of our workers as can be placed in them. An urgent appeal was made for young people to train for this field, and to volunteer their services while there is yet time. The people there are ripe for the message, but the staff of trained workers is still pitifully small in most areas. Tremendous reaches of territory and vast numbers of people are yet left untouched.
Greater and still greater stress is being laid on the training of national workers to accomplish the task of evangelizing their own people. In South and Central America, as well as in China, Africa, India, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and other populous lands of earth, the mission-trained native is becoming God's most potent weapon in the universal battle for truth. Thus there arises a new and more urgent cry for missionaries, trained as teachers adept at languages, consecrated to the task of educating an ever-growing force Of willing, God-fearing natives, preparing them to do in the most effective manner the work they are eager to accomplish.
In China, at present, almost the entire burden of evangelism has been shifted to the shoulders of the native believers, both laity and trained workers. It is gratifying to hear of tl-e work these zealous souls are doing in their beleaguered nation. Reports are coming in from village after village of large companies who have been converted and are waiting for baptism by an ordained worker.
In spite of the war, and the necessity for recalling many foreign workers, the gospel is going forward by leaps and bounds in all parts of the earth. Elder Christian stated, particularly, that in Russia, war and persecution had served only to arouse and invigorate the believers scattered abroad throughout the land. They are now reaping the richest harvest of souls ever known in that country.
Africa presents another picture. Most parts of that continent are still free to the foreign workers, and at present these godly men and women are following a program of rapid progress. At present it is impossible to get more foreign workers into Africa because of the utter lack of transportation facilities. A number of appointees have been ready for some time, awaiting only an opportunity to be transported there. Thus here, too, the work of the trained native has a new importance.
In Ethiopia, since the -retufn of Haile Selassie, our former work has been reopened and some of the modern, substantial buildings recently erected have been turned over to us to use as schools and hospitals. In other words, our work in Ethiopia now is on a far better basis, on the whole, than it was before the country fell.
When questioned regarding prerequisites for mission service, the speakers readily agreed upon three prime factors: First, complete consecration and devotion; second, a soul-stirring love for the people to be labored for ; and third, practical training—vocational abilities, a knowledge of trades, etc. Beyond these essentials, some special training is also of inestimable value, and of these various special studies, spoken languages deserve the most attention. Unless some foreknowledge of the particular language to be used is gained before arrival in the field, many precious months and even years are consumed in mastering the speech sufficiently to use it effectively with the native peoples.
The sincere belief was expressed that there will yet be ample opportunity for missionary work in the broad harvest fields of earth. To the question regarding how many students and others who were present were willing to give their lives to God, for the finishing of our great task in all the world, it was inspiring to see the unanimous response which met this call. The congregation rose as a group, expressing individual willingness to go whenever and wherever called.
Many questions were left unanswered, owing to lack of time. Several were relative to our work in Japan. Others pertained to methods and means of opening new fields; still others, to present financial arrangements in warring countries and the present need for funds for foreign work as compared to what it has been in the past.
The wholehearted response of both audience and participants, as well as the stack of unanswered questions left on hand, has led to the hope that a time may be found when another such program of heartening revelations may be had at Washington Missionary College.