Making and Maintaining a World Movement

What are the problems and solutions associated with the manning of our work in the mission fields?

By HAZEL I. SHADEL, Recording Secretary of the General Conference Appointees' Committee

We feel confident that readers of the Ministry will be deeply inwested in the following description of the work of the Appointees' Committee of the General Conference. It is written by one who has had mission field experience and has for several years been the recording secretary for the Appointees' Committee. It is her responsibility to accumulate and tabulate the information recorded in our files regarding prospective missionaries. We trust that the brief presentation of this important activity in the General Conference office will contribute to better understanding of some of the problems connected with the manning of our work in the mission fields.—T.J. Michael.

Some may think that the foreign missions' program is at a standstill. If you are harboring this thought, come join us for a time in the Appointees' Committee. Just now we have eighty-five active calls listed on our "Status of Calls" sheet. These are from China, Inter-America, Northern Europe, South Amer­ica, Southern Africa, Southern Asia, the Arabic Union, and other sections of the world field. Some of the calls are to places where we cannot now enter but hope to when conditions make it possible. About thirty are for workers who will study the language of their chosen field here in America before they go forward. The other calls are being filled as quickly as we can find workers to send out.

The Appointees' Committee is composed of the General Conference secretaries, one vice-president, a treasurer, and one member from each department of the General Conference. Perhaps you would like first of all to have a glimpse of the work involved in the Secretarial Department of the General Conference in pre­paring for an Appointees' Committee. When we hear of some young person who is interested in foreign mission service, we send him or her a questionnaire, with the request that the form be completed and returned to our office. Many voluntarily send us their names for such service.

These questionnaires include information re­garding parentage, citizenship and nationality, indebtedness, if any, general health condition, educational qualifications, and experience in de­nominational work, also a few names of those who are acquainted with the applicant, for ref­erence. Then we have a specially prepared blue blank which we send out to the people named, asking for their opinion regarding the character, spiritual experience, temperament, and general fitness for mission work of the person under con­sideration. A special file is set aside for these questionnaires and blue blanks. The various lines of work are classified, such as teaching, medical, administrative, etc., and the name of a prospect is placed under the proper classifica­tion. This expedites the work of discovering who can fill the various calls.

This may appear to be an easy task. Some­times it is, and sometimes it is not. However, we do not always receive a call for a missionary to handle one line of work only. For instance, we may receive a call for a Bible instructor with a thorough knowledge of Bible doctrines and the third angel's message, a burden for souls, and a willingness to devote her time to actual evange­listic Bible work. In addition to this it may also be desired that this Bible instructor have experience as a teacher and be a practical nurse.

Another call may be for an evangelist-teacher. A man and his wife may be needed to teach or to supervise teaching in a large mission 'school. At this place they are especially anxious to get a family in which the wife is a music teacher.

We have also been asked for a man who could teach two or three subjects and take care of several industries. His wife must be a qualified nurse, act as preceptress, teach a subject or two, and be the school registrar. You can imagine how easy it is to find such a couple !

And now suppose we go to a brief meeting of the Appointees' Committee. One of the General Conference secretaries acts as chair­man. An agenda has been prepared, listing sev­eral calls which have to be filled, and possibly there are some medical reports to be approved. After an earnest prayer, seeking God's guidance in the important work to be undertaken, the items on the agenda are given consideration. Let us say that the first item is a call for a depart­mental secretary for one of the union missions overseas. From our records one of the secre­taries has already selected the names of several likely candidates, and the information on the questionnaires and the recommendations on the blue blanks are presented to the committee. Frequently, in addition to the information on our records, members of our Appointees' Com­mittee, all of whom travel extensively, will have a personal acquaintance with a prospective worker, will give their personal testimony either for or against the particular name being con­sidered.

Sometimes a man appears to be well qualified for the work in mind, but some vital information is missing from our records. In such cases the secretary may be asked to secure the necessary information and bring the name back again for consideration at the next meeting of the com­mittee. The greatest possible care is ex'ercised in the selection of missionary appointees, be­cause not only is the best available talent needed in the mission fields, but a heavy financial in­vestment is made in sending forward a mission­ary family, and all that is reasonably possible must be done to avoid making mistakes that would result in disappointment and serious financial loss. After the research work has been done and an individual's name has been ap­proved by the Appointees' Committee, the name is recommended to the General Conference Com­mittee for appointment.

Medical blanks are enclosed in the letter of call, and the worker is advised that he must have a medical examination if he plans to accept the call. He is counseled, however, not to sever his present connection until the medical report has been favorably acted upon by the committee. The reports are sent to our office and are re­viewed by the secretary of the Medical Depart­ment. His comments are read to the committee, and, if favorable, the worker is granted clear­ance.

It is astonishing how many have to be re­leased from appointment because of poor health. When it is thought that a course of treatment might Correct the ailment, clearance is delayed, and the worker is given opportunity to build up his health. Although this delays filling the call, it may be that the worker has qualifications that admirably fit him for the service named, and it is felt that it would be better to send him at a later date than to send someone at once who is less qualified. Sometimes the worker has to be released because he does not show the improvement hoped for. Then the search must begin all over again.

If the medical report is favorable, biograph­ical blanks and credentials are enclosed in the letter that goes to the appointee. The Secre­tarial Department sends a notification of this clearance to the Treasury and Transportation Departments, and from then on the correspond­ence is carried from that end.

In this time when sea travel is as unsafe as it is, the General Conference Committee has au­thorized appointees and those on furlough re­turning to their fields of labor to make use of plane travel where possible. But because of the large use made of this mode of travel by the military, it sometimes takes months before work­ers can get away, although at times they can leave at once. To some divisions it is possible to send doctors and nurses only, and no families with children. This, as you will readily see, limits our scope of prospects very materially.

At times a division has had to wait a year before a call is filled. It may be that it has asked for a married couple with a combination of qual­ifications that is difficult to find. In addition to the many who have to be released because of health conditions, there are others who have to be released from calls because of financial diffi­culties, because of dependent relatives, and for various other causes, including occasionally a lack of interest when confronted with the actual call.

Letters received from missionaries who have left their homeland bring the encouraging word that they have arrived in the field and are busy with the language study, and tell how glad they are that they responded to the call. They are happy in the service they are able to render to those all about them. The following letter is from a worker called for foreign service, but who was unable to pass the medical examina­tion:

"We know that we have benefited from this call, even though we did not go, for we feel that because of this experience we have received a better Christian experience than we had before. It has made us deter­mined as never before that we will be faithful to this message regardless. Our interest in the mission fields has been increased, and in turn our interest in the work in general."

On our "Status of Calls" sheet at the present time we have requests for nurses, doctors, teach­ers, principals, Bible instructors, Bible teachers, superintendents of missions, and secretary-treas­urers.

In addition to the work of making new appoint­ments for foreign service, this committee con­siders the medical reports of workers on fur­lough. If it is felt that the health question is too great a risk, this committee recommends to the General Conference Committee that a permanent return be granted, or an extension of furlough over the ordinary number of months be allowed. An extension is recommended for school privi­leges in some cases. All in all, it is very inter­esting to serve on the Appointees' Committee.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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By HAZEL I. SHADEL, Recording Secretary of the General Conference Appointees' Committee

June 1943

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