We have already written on the question of our present dearth of Bible workers and the call for young women to this field of service. We are now ready to discuss the question of the contribution our schools can make toward the training of these workers. The fact that we have almost forgotten to include a special course to develop Bible workers, is indeed a reflection on our shortsightedness. We must set to work immediately to change this situation in our schools. This is most urgent. Our courses must be created in harmony with the needs of the field. And surely we need Bible workers. Our schools have a point when they defend themselves for their present lack of courses for Bible workers, by declaring that conferences have not been Bible-work conscious.
Why do we find whole conferences today without the services of a single Bible worker ? Why does it seem to some evangelists that the Bible worker is a figure of the past, in spite of the fact that the messenger of the Lord urges home in the most forceful language the great need of the Bible work for these closing days ? Why have so many young women who felt called to this work been sidetracked into other professions ? An attempt to make lengthy replies to these important questions would not change the conditions. There are some fundamental reasons, to be sure, but it is our determination to enlist every worker to help change this picture.
How Colleges Can Encourage Bible Work
We urge that our schools be prepared to play their part in leading us back to the heaven-born idea of using well-trained Bible workers. The field indeed needs professionally trained women to teach the Bible in the homes of the people. Public evangelism awakens the interest, but the final decisions are usually made in the homes of the people.
There has been a decided drift away from the original place of the Bible workers in the evangelistic company. Instead of developing true, personal Bible teachers, the tendency has been to develop handbill distributors and social visitors. Our schools feel entirely unprepared to give much direction to the newer "doorbell ringing" mission of our present Bible work. Teachers are embarrassed to hear youth, whom they would like to guide into the Bible worker course, tell them that they "don't think they would like this type of work." There is no special challenge in such a program for intelligent young women. It seems to them to be on the level of house-to-house advertising of a far less dignified type. Some who have done Bible work have told the prospective Bible worker that there is little opportunity in the profession at present really to teach people the Bible. They merely hurriedly answer people's questions as they call at the homes. With the many calls to be made from day to day, it can at best be only hurried work. "Who plans to do that all day long ?" as one courageous modern expressed it.
While personal work is a technique for both the pastor-evangelist and the Bible ;worker, the latter's training must be more than a ministerial course in adaptation. There are specific needs in the Bible work as outlined in the heavenly blueprint for this people, and these must be met while in school with adequate training, and field experience as well. During these years the young woman must orient herself to her future task, and in the environment of the evangelistic laboratory must find that the fascinations of her chosen calling make an ever stronger appeal to her soul. The pattern must not be a bit of this course and a sprinkling of another, resembling a crazy quilt. It must be of definite design. Our schools are ready for just such a program. Let us direct our young people into them, teaming up with these noble teachers to plan a larger Bible work. Again, let the field welcome the product of our schools when these young men and women have completed their courses and are ready for the Bible work, guiding their steps into a successful evangelism.
Developing Bible Workers in the Field
In the preceding discussion, we have dealt with the attitude of the experienced Bible worker toward the beginner, and with the latter's special training course in our colleges. We now turn our attention to the field where the product of our schools will be used.
Granted that the prospective young Bible worker has successfully completed her school training, which should have embraced ctual field work as well as the classroom theory, she is now ready for conference employment. She will need, first of all, the kind, fatherly counsel of the president of the conference. She may not feel free to take the initiative in seeking counsel, wondering if she is in her sphere of propriety and also thinking of her relationship with the evangelist with whom she is very closely associated in the work; but she should counsel with him. There are many questions she may wish to ask her president, and if given an opportunity to receive help on a few of the more urgent problems, she will be happy for the interview and will relax in confidence and security. An understanding president is often responsible for the smoothly working policies she will find in her work with her evangelist associate, whose counsel should next be received. The plans of the conference committee and the suggestions made in workers' meetings will also guide her in her work.
There is value in associating the beginner with a tried Bible worker who will be able to inspire, guide, and teach her the necessary techniques of the profession with which she did not entirely become acquainted during her training in school. In this way her progress will be greatly expedited. The experienced Bible worker then has a great responsibility. A real sisterly, not motherly, counsel is valuable. Some mothers ruin their children by doing the work for them ; that is why sisterly helpfulness is far more wholesome. Furthermore, the young woman must not now be treated as a child, for her work demands that she be a leader and not a leaner.
There is another vital point to emphasize at this stage of the young Bible worker's career. We must remember that it is only a very short step between her schooldays and her larger responsibility in the field. During her college years her teachers guided her studies and plans, while the dean of women filled the place of mother when she needed help with her temperamental instabilities. Pronounced temperamental tendencies often greatly irk a Bible worker of experience. They may bring a clash between the younger and the older worker which may result in the young Bible worker's erecting a wall of reserve toward her senior. The mature worker may now become more and more convinced in her impressions that her charge is temperamentally unfit for the Bible work. She may in confidence express such impressions to her associate pastor or to the president of the conference if he asks her regarding the young Bible worker's progress.
Here is a great crisis in the young woman's life. It takes understanding to handle skilfully such a case. She may naturally turn to the minister's wife, but since few minister's wives may have had such an experience themselves, she may not be able to help the Bible worker. If at this time the Bible worker of experience will not be "too set," she may be a real blessing to the movement, and God will be able to use her to establish that young soul. Out of this crisis will grow a valuable experience for the young worker—that of learning to labor with others and of leaning heavily on the Lord. Flimsy dreams will now vanish, and the young Bible worker will be equal to doing her own thinking and making her own decisions. She will demonstrate that she is not temperamental ; she now has a grip on herself.
Experienced workers must not unduly exaggerate such experiences. Unless there is a history of recurring instabilities in the development of the beginner, we may as well attribute them to the growing-up process of any young worker. It might be well to remember that the temtleramental person does not merely present a problem; she also adds color to the setting, and a sense of humor may do much toward letting the occasion "blow over."
A conference is greatly blessed by adding a young Bible worker to its force today. Our school courses provide a broad background of knowledge for the Bible work. Youth today know how to analyze themselves, and when given a fair chance in the work, they give promise of making strong workers. The internship plan checks their work periodically so that there is little danger of retaining misfits in the Bible work. Let the beginner feel the warm welcome of Christian associates as she enters the work, and she will soon develop in the kindly atmosphere of this understanding leadership.
L. C. K.