How Interest Others in the Profession

Talk given at Columbia Union Ministerial Insti­tute, March, 1947.

By MAYBELLE VANDERMARK, Instructor in Religion, Washington Missionary College

Through training and experience we now have in the field a small corps of in­dispensable Bible instructors. At present there are only 361 conference-employed Bible instructors in the world field. "If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we would see many more converted to the truth."—Review and Herald, Jan. 2, 1879. If we had met this challenge, having twenty where we now have one, we would have over 7,000 Bible instructors to increase the soul-win­ning effectiveness of our work today.

Bible instruction is now being recognized for the dignified soul-winning profession that it is. That in itself arouses more interest in it as a calling on the part of young people thinking about their choice of lifework.

At Washington Missionary College we have over twenty Bible instructors in process of training, out of an enrollment of about seven hundred. In general, these figures compare pro­portionately with other colleges. We are espe­cially glad to note an increased enrollment in this course at other colleges, and especially at Emmanuel Missionary College, where more than fifty are enrolled. But generally speaking, the numbers actually preparing for Bible in­struction are entirely incompatible with the needs of the field.

Most of the applications received in the col­lege admissions office include an expression of vocation or calling, which indicates that the average young woman who applies to college has already decided what her lifework is to be. When did the embryonic Bible instructor de­cide upon this lifework? Adolescent life studies tell us that she was thinking along these lines at eleven years of age and earlier, and on through her teen-age years. She reached a con­clusion by the time she was sixteen.

Where was she at the age of eleven, and later on in her teen-age years ? First in the church school and later in the academy. What was the process by which she came to decide what her lifework would be ? The process is the same as , that by which anyone decides what his lifework is to be. I know why I am a Bible instructor. I was twelve when I met my first Seventh-day Adventist worker. She was an alert young peo­ple's leader and noticed the initials of my name. "M. V. Maybelle Vandermark. You should be a Missionary Volunteer, the Lord needs girls to help in His work." It was some years before I became a member of the church, but the seed for soul winning had been sown.

Think as far back as you can -remember to the thing which stirred your heart to become a gospel worker, or a doctor, or whatever the case might be. Was it not because you saw workers for God making contributions to the welfare of humanity? You sensed the satisfac­tion that came from such a course, and ob­served the way such workers were regarded by those about them. All these figured in your choice of a lifework.

If we make certain that Bible instruction, as a calling, is brought to the attention of the age group ready to make up its mind concerning a lifework, and emphasize it as pointedly and as frequently as its need warrants, we shall in­crease the number of Bible instructors in the same proportion.

What an Experienced Bible Worker Can Do

What can the experienced Bible instructor do? Every Bible instructor in active service at present should realize that she is watched and emulated by the young women and teen-agers she meets. She has a great responsibility of liv­ing the life. She can speak a word in season to these young women, and tell them of the joy and satisfaction that comes in this special serv­ice.

Bible instructors have a great influence with families with whom they have studied. They can guide young women of these families into Bible instruction. When asked to speak to the youth at M.V. meetings and at Weeks of Prayer, they can definitely guide youth to choose this voca­tion. The Bible instructor can invite young women who are good prospects to visit homes with her. Let them see the joy of Bible work, especially when families and individuals are taking their stand for the message.

Conducting laymen's Bible instructor classes develops the lay worker, and from these ranks there can be chosen those who wish to give their attention to better preparation for confer­ence Bible work.

The experienced Bible instructor can visit our colleges and encourage young women who have begun this training. She can seek occasion to speak to young women during her visit, and address them at their worship periods. Possi­bilities of training for Bible instruction can also be given in connection with the studies for M.V. Progressive classwork.

What the ministers Can Do

What can our ministers do? If you do not have a Bible instructor in your church to whom you may direct the attention of the girls of your church, you can show by expression and attitude your high regard for the profession and your great concern.that the needs for Bible instructors be filled.

You can make plans for instructing the laity in how to give Bible studies. As members of your church take hold of this, the young people and children will not let it go by unnoticed. They will sense the inspiration that comes from winning souls. If -a Bible instructor comes within the vicinity to visit your church or acad­emy, invite her to the church, the Sabbath school, the young people's society, and church school to talk about Bible instructors, their work, the satisfactions it gives, the qualifica­tions of the work. You can follow that up by your individual interest in the vocational choices of your younger church members.

In all the in-between times you can keep your eyes open for alert, personable young peo­ple with balance and poise who will be adapt­able to the training necessary for this kind of work. You can speak to them personally about it. You can send their names to the Bible in­structor at the college in your field. When they leave you for the academy, write letters to them. When you are on the campus, visit with them, not about generalities, but about their lifework. Do not forget them when they get to college.

This kind of interest in your children and youth will not give you Bible instructors this year, but it will provide many for the field in years to come. This type of planning calls for unselfish, farsighted vision on your part, but as in all long-range planning, it nets the best re­sults.

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By MAYBELLE VANDERMARK, Instructor in Religion, Washington Missionary College

October 1947

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