"Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we have commanded you." 1 Thess. 4:11.
When the missionary Paul gave that instruction to the workers and believers at Thessalonica, I think he had in mind the practical missionary! What better instruction could he give than mind your own business, and work with your own hands? In any type of work all three of the points mentioned in the verse, if carefully followed, would save us many heartaches and misunderstandings, but especially in mission work.
Adaptability. There is no question about it, if we as missionaries would adapt ourselves to the conditions and laws of the country to which we go, we would make much faster progress in our mission program. The fact that the worker finds himself in a country where the customs and laws of the land are different from those he is accustomed to, is no reason for wanting to change everything to his way. No matter what country he is in, it is his duty to respect the flag of that government, which is a symbol of protection over him. A missionary has no business engaging in the politics of a land, or harboring racial feelings. He will save• himself many problems by strictly minding his own business-that of preaching the gospel.
Learn to Use Your Hands. Flow sad and unfortunate it is to see a man come to the mission field who cannot put his hands to practical use. You may not know how to make bricks, but you can soon learn. If you cannot build a house, you can work with someone who knows how, and soon know something about it. It all depends on you! There are so many things around a mission station which always demand attention. Nothing looks more depressing than to drive up to a station and see broken windowpanes, doors off their hinges, broken desks, and a roof that needs to be repaired. An unfavorable impression of that worker's ability is given the visitor.
At a conference meeting I once heard a missionary giving his report, and among other things he said he could lie in his bed and see the stars shining through holes in the roof, because it needed repairs. That did not arouse sympathy from any of us. Shame on a man who could do the repairs and would not ! Again let me repeat, It all depends on the worker. Learn to use a hammer, a saw, a plane, and other tools, and be able to make simple furniture and take care of necessary repairs. This feature of a missionary's work is very important and must be considered as a part of his training.
Guard Your Health.--One does not realize how precious health is until he loses it. If you are going to the tropics, be prepared to protect yourself and family. Where there are mosquitoes, sleep under nets, boil your water, wear a helmet and mosquito boots. If you have children, see that they are indoors by sundown and protected from mosquito bites, and be sure they sleep under nets. This is where many have failed. Too often malaria is brought on by carelessness, when it could have been avoided. In the tropics it is a wise plan for each member of the family to take a rest during the day, when the sun is hot out of doors. A nap is most refreshing, and workers will last all the longer for it in the mission field.
To the wives I would say, The missionary's diet is most important. Someone has said, "There is more religion in a good loaf of bread than in many a sermon." How true ! This is where a good practical missionary's wife comes in. It is wise for her to be resourceful and to learn to use the foods grown in the country whenever possible. Serve wholesome nourishing meals which will be enjoyed by your family. We all like to have things from home, but if we make the best use of what we have, we will continue at our post of duty when others have long given up. Be regular with your meals. Mission duties will often press in, but make it a habit as far as possible, when the time comes for your meals, to close up your business and go to the table. Husbands, remember that it is due you and your family to meet with them around the family board.
Business Knowledge.---"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Rom. 12:11. This is good instruction. Paul knew that every worker should have some business knowledge. Keep out of debt ! Live within your means ! This is true as to a worker's private finances, as well as those of the mission. A missionary's wife who does not try to economize can throw more out of the back door than he can bring in the front door ! Budget your income and do not spend every cent you earn every month. Plan definitely to put a little aside each month, no matter how small your salary may be. You will need it at some future time. A missionary should know how to buy and sell to the best advantage.
If you have business correspondence to do, get at it. Do not procrastinate. Be neat and orderly in your business, for it reflects your character. The same applies around the home and the mission station. You are judged by what people see as well as what they hear!
Team Work On Stations.—How often one hears the tragic report regarding missionaries, "They couldn't get on with each other." That is a most undesirable experience. Where there are two or more families on one station, if you are the second man on the mission, it is your duty to co-operate with the one in charge. After all, he is held responsible, and he must answer to the committee for his work. If you have ideas and opinions, which every worker has, express them to the one in charge at the right time, and you will be surprised how many times they will be welcomed. But never harbor feelings, if your ideas are not accepted at once. Avoid friction by close teamwork. If you happen to be the one in charge, remember that the other worker has opinions, and he has a share in making your work as a leader a success. Here again Paul's instruction to "study to be quiet, and to do your own business" will bring fruitful co-operation. A knowledge of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is very practical.
First-Aid Knowledge.—Wherever possible the missionary under appointment should have some practical first-aid knowledge. In many instances the wife of the worker has to care for the medical work on the mission. People can be won through this "right arm of the message" when other methods may fail. You may be located scores of miles away from any doctor, so it is well that you know a little about simple treatments. Often one can reach people at their bedside with the message, who will not come to meetings. They will come for miles around when they learn of your prayerful treatment. Such things as stomach trouble, headaches, malaria, tropical ulcers, burns, sore eyes, wounds of every kind, will be common occurrences for the missionary and his wife to treat.
Home Life.—A worker's influence among a primitive people is backed by his home life. These raw people are students of character. What happens in your home is soon noised abroad. Regularity with morning and evening worship will have its influence. Training of the children has its influence also. One feature to be admired in many successful missionaries is their regular attendance at Sabbath meetings with every member of the family. I think of one of our missionary doctors, with his family of little children, who has never missed a Sabbath service no matter how pressing his duties were. From the time the youngest member of the family could go out with the mother, they attended every Sabbath service. That doctor's wife never allowed a pain or an ache or a crying child to keep her away from meetings. Consequently, her children knew how to behave in services, for they were brought up that way. Do you wonder why that doctor's medical skill was appreciated by the people and his counsel always sought in the church? His wife is just as much a worker as he. Each has a part to perform in the great mission program.
Singing and Music.—It is natural for the black people of the continents to like to sing. Everything is done by rhythm. Many tribes are gifted with some of the closest harmony of vocal music, which could compete with the best-trained choirs of the world. Some of the most beautiful language written in prose, and every word full of meaning, has been composed and put to natural music in harmonious parts by the black men of Africa. It is therefore of great importance that the missionary and his wife know something about music. When traveling through the forests or on the lakes, or even amid the jostling crowd, someone will start such a song as "Jesus Is Coming Again !" There is power in song, and many a heathen owes his conversion to a stirring song. This important feature of a missionary's training must not be overlooked.
Be a reporter.—Some people believe in the old adage, "Never let your right hand know what your left does." That is all right in some things. In the case of the missionary he has a duty to perform. The home Church and loved ones back home are waiting to hear. Your field and union, yes, and the division and General Conference offices look for some word from you. They have a right to know, for they have sent you. Be prompt and courteous in your reports, which are required, and write short interesting articles for our church papers. It is your duty to let others know what you are doing. Read some missionary books whenever you can. The lives of such men as Dwight L. Moody, David Livingstone, and many others will inspire you to greater service for your Master.
Train others.—The worker must ever seek to train some Of his promising helpers to carry responsibility, so that when he is called away, the work will go on just the same. We must look upon our work as missionaries in the light of the Master Missionary, Jesus. He gathered about Him His disciples, and after He had instructed them, He sent them out to preach this last message to the world. God is counting on us, and we must not fail Him.
Bible Study and Prayer.—Above all, the missionary must not neglect the study of God's Word and prayer. Such men as Muller, who established the great orphanages of England, did it by faith and prayer. God honors simple, trustful service. His Word contains the power. Prayer puts it into the life.
Someone may say, If all that has been written in these articles could be found in one person, we would indeed have an ideal missionary. That is just what we are looking for ! May God bless these few thoughts which have been written- with a desire to stimulate us to give of our best to the Master, and never lose sight of our great objective —to win souls!