Training National Evangelists in China

Nearly 475,000 must be reached with the advent message in China.

By NATHAN F. BREWER, General Field Secretary, General Conference

Think of it, nearly 475,000,000 must be reached with the advent message in China. As we think of this enormous mass of people with only a very small percentage professing Christian­ity, we are face to face with the fact that by far the larger portion of these people must be reached through the efforts of the national workers. In many ways the properly trained national evange­list, if truly converted and consecrated, has many advantages over the foreign missionary in the work he may be able to do.

In the first place, the mission boards could never think of sending over enough foreign mis­sionaries to accomplish this gigantic task. Then, too, the national evangelist already has an easy grasp of language. He understands the back­ground and psychology of his people, and can therefore approach them in such a way as to se­cure their attention.

A large number of consecrated Christian Chi­nese youth can be trained to do a mighty work in evangelism. This matter of training evangelists should Commence in the church school. Winning souls to Christ should ever be kept before our chil­dren. Many an evangelist has received his first desire to be a preacher from his church school teacher.

I know of one church school here in America that secured returned missionaries from many different lands and invited them to speak to the pupils. Time was given for mission study, and each student had to write up a report of the missionary's talk. The work of God was kept before the students con­stantly, in order to create in each a desire to be­come a worker for God. Where it is difficult to secure missionaries to talk to the students, the teacher or some of the students can be assigned various mission lands and can give a report of their findings. We are to keep ever before the children and youth the importance and value of soul winning. This same idea can be used in China or other foreign lands. We might not have returned missionaries to visit our church schools there, but let the teacher lead out in the study of some province in the students' own division. We must create in these youth an interest and a desire to give the gospel to others.

After a young man has finished his schoolwork and has studied the theory of evangelism, what is the best way of training him in the field? There are two methods. One is the old method of assigning him to some territory and telling him to "go to it." He must sink or swim. Many a good soul winner and preacher has started out in the work that way and has made good. However, I think there is a better way, especially for national workers in mission lands. I believe that if we would train our preachers as we do our colpor­teurs, we would have more and better preachers.

It has been my experience that the best way to train national evangelists is to demonstrate to them how to carry on a public effort by doing it with them. Let the director or superintendent of the mission gather the national evangelists of a given area into one place. Let him carry on a public effort for a month or six weeks, speaking every night of the week. For the mornings, ar­range devotional meetings and classes in public evangelism, pastoral work, denominational history, church organization, and a round-table period dur­ing which problems may be discussed and experi­ences related. Let the workers know that exami­nations in these classes will be given. Notebooks are furnished all workers, and they are expected to keep notes on all classwork. These notebooks are gathered up several times during the effort, looked over by the teachers, and graded.

Arrange for the workers present to go out visit­ing in the afternoons. The city in which the effort is being held should be divided into districts, and a group of workers and a leader should be assigned to each district. The first few days the workers may engage in giving out programs and inviting the people to attend the meetings. As the meetings progress and names of interested persons are re­ceived, let the workers visit interested persons. From these visits experiences will be gleaned and requests for prayer will be made that should be brought into the round-table hour.

In the evening let the missionary conduct the public effort, exemplifying and working out the principles taught in the morning classes. Encour­age the workers to take notes on the sermons in the evenings and to keep a scrapbook of all adver­tising matter and tracts used.

Organize the group of workers so that each worker has some specific duty in connection with the evening service. Generally stereopticon slides are used. When in China I made it a practice to have every text I used written on a slide. Several workers who can write well may be assigned to this task. If there are workers who can draw well, they may be used to make illustrated slides. Mim­eographing material for the morning classes should be assigned to several.

Every evening an offering is taken up, to help defray the expense of the meetings. Our efforts should be as nearly self-supporting as possible. At the evening meetings let the workers act as ushers.

A music committee should be appointed to care for the music. A song service is generally con­ducted fifteen minutes before the sermon, and the people can be taught to sing gospel songs. Songs are generally written on slides. This saves the ex­pense of providing songbooks and makes it much easier for the audience to follow as the music leader points out the characters.

In my work I asked the ushers to try to secure the names and addresses of several persons each evening and remember their names, so that when those persons came the second or third time the ushers could greet them by name. Nearly every­one likes to hear his own name and to know that it is remembered. This makes a favorable impres­sion and has drawing power in keeping people coming to the meetings.

As our workers gather and study plans and methods, they receive a double incentive to go out and do great things for God when they have actu­ally seen how these methods work. At the close of the public effort Bible classes are formed which are carried on by the local pastor, and from this group baptismal classes are organized. Generally we hold the Bible class for about one month, and the baptismal class for another month, so that the candidate for baptism is thoroughly indoctrinated and converted before he becomes a member of the church.

At the close of the effort and before the workers return to their stations, plans should be made by the local mission committee for a number of public efforts to be held by these workers in their own districts. Several may work together for a strong effort in the center of their districts. It is best to hit the iron when it is hot and keep it hot by hit­ting. While the worker is still enthusiastic, plan with him aggressive evangelistic work in his own district.

 


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By NATHAN F. BREWER, General Field Secretary, General Conference

December 1945

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