Readers of the Ministry will be glad to learn of a new step now being taken by the General Conference in behalf of missions. By our slow methods of work heretofore, workers sent to the larger mission fields have had to spend the first full year or even two, in study of the language before they could begin active service in soul winning. But now, to take time by the forelock, plans are well under way for the teaching of a number of the principal mission languages in our colleges here in the homeland, beginning with the approaching college year (1942-43), and along with that the translation of literature into the same language.
While it is recognized that no place is equal to the country concerned, for the learning of the language and acquaintance with the people, yet we have among us, returned missionaries who have learned the language on the grounds, and used it for many years in labor among the people who use it. We are drawing on these for qualified teachers and translators here in the homeland.
It is also part of our plan to associate with each teacher one who is native to the language, so as to have a double check on both teaching and translation, by way of perfecting accent and use of the language to the fullest extent possible. Along with the teaching work will be given instruction on the geography, social life, and racial characteristics of the people whose language is studied. This will be supplemented by a mission band in the school, with meetings open to any student or teacher who is interested and wishes to attend. In the translation work, it is planned to appoint a reading committee of qualified persons to review the translation, so as to improve it in every way possible.
Appeal to students to enter these language classes is being made both to those of American or European blood, and to those who are born to the language taught. A wholesome mingling of these two classes of workers has always proved a blessing in the mission field.
Up to the date of this writing we have been able to arrange for this work as follows: Chinese and Malay at Walla Walla College, Chinese also at Pacific Union College, Urdu and Russian at Union College, French at Emmanuel Missionary College, Arabic at our Theological Seminary, and Japanese at Madison College. Other plans are under way, and can be reported on later.
This work is being promoted from the General Conference by the Spirit of Missions Committee, of which the writer is secretary. Our colleges are responding heartily to the plan. We believe such work in our schools will exert a strong influence in stimulating and maintaining a live interest in missions by our student bodies, along with other efforts of various kinds to do the same for all our people.
It is interesting to note in this connection that the United States Government is energetically promoting the teaching of many foreign languages on an intensive basis in many of the colleges and universities of the land. This Government is in urgent need of hundreds of recruits in diplomatic, economic, and political fields for service both now and after the war. How much more should we be keenly alive in preparing recruits beforehand for the time when, in God's providence, war-ravaged regions of the earth will be open again for pushing our work to a grand climax.