There is hardly a Seventh-day Adventist youth who has not at some time thought seriously of giving his life in service for God in a foreign country. Implanted in the church school, nurtured in the academy, and strengthened and directed in the college, this impelling missionary urge is the rightful outgrowth of the ringing challenge of the worldwide Advent message. The true Adventist wants to see Jesus come. He wants the world to know of that impending event so as to prepare for it. The Advent message loses its meaning if it does not inspire every member, young or old, with the desire to be a missionary.
Let us address ourselves now to the question : What kind of missionaries are needed, and how can one who has the desire secure a preparation to be a missionary—"one sent" to take the gospel to lands afar?
One who observes the work in America is impressed by the fact that use is made of a large variety of workers of special ability. One large group is made up of evangelists and evangelist-pastors. Other categories are teachers, colporteurs, departmental secretaries, treasurers, doctors and nurses, conference presidents, and institutional managers.
In many foreign countries where the message was planted a generation ago, the church has developed a surprising degree of maturity. One finds organized conferences and missions with all the activities that are found in the older home bases. One also finds in these areas school systems that are turning out scores of youth who are taking their places in the expanding work. The overseas worker may thus find himself laboring alongside mature, experienced national workers of tried ability, and may even be asked to labor under the direction of one of these leaders.
It is, therefore, apparent that the missionary, who is sent at considerable expense tq journey and labor afar, must be one who is able to make a real contribution in some particular line of work. He must be prepared by training and experience to do his assigned tasks well, and to achieve tangible results. Perhaps, then, the worker who will go to one of the more highly developed fields should have a period of experience in his homeland before be is sent out to be a teacher and leader of others. For experience is a unique teacher, and there is no substitute in the learning of certain skills, and the developing of good judgment for the school of practical experience.
Lest some may misunderstand, let it be pointed out that there is still much work to be done of pioneer type. There are great areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the islands of the Pacific yet to be entered and evangelized. Would that there were enough workers to enter all the doors that stand open, and the means to support them!
VARIED LINES OF MISSIONARY WORK.—Let us now notice briefly several lines of missionary work, and something of the qualifications of each :
The pioneering worker, especially among primitive peoples, should know Bible work and should be a winning speaker. He should have some practical training and mechanical skills, and should know the rudiments of hygiene and simple medical treatment.
The evangelist, called to labor in the cities, should have highly specialized training in doctrinal presentation, publicity, music, follow-up methods, and in bringing interested ones to a decision.
The director of a mission station or field should have ability to solve church problems and to get along with the people and with his fellow workers. He should possess financial sense, leadership, and evangelistic drive. An excellent background would be to have had successful evangelistic and pastoral leadership in a district in the homeland.
Treasurers should have accounting skill, financial insight, experience in preparing and using budgets, knowledge of church and conference accounting systems, as well as general leadership qualities.
The doctor, dentist, nurse, or technician is usually qualified professionally. He should also be gifted in training and developing a staff, and should be able to work with the institutional board or controlling committee.
Teachers or school administrators are frequently needed, and usually the call is for one to labor in a specialized field, such as Bible, history, chemistry, mathematics, business administration, printing, music, agriculture, elementary teaching, dean's work, or principalship.
Calls for women stenographers or Bible instructors are generally somewhat difficult to fill. The individual must be properly trained, missionary-minded, mature enough to be sent out single as a missionary (twenty-five or more), yet young enough to adapt herself to a changed environment, and learn a language if that is necessary.
Calls are often received in the General Conference for managers of sanitariums, schools, or printing plants. Again, a need arises for a qualified departmental leader in one or more of the established lines of church activity, such as publishing, Sabbath school, educational, young people's, or home missionary work. It is evident that the requirements for these lines are more or less specialized, and only those with sufficient experience can qualify.
Some may question regarding the openings for self-supporting work. There are some openings of this type for doctors, dentists, and possibly colporteurs. If a worker goes out on a self-supporting basis under General Conference auspices, the character and professional requirements are the same as for regular missionaries.
The youth who aspires to become a foreign missionary should study and evaluate his own talents and seek counsel from those who know him well so that he will develop along the line of his best aptitudes. He should endeavor to promote his own health and learn how best to preserve it under difficult conditions. He should cultivate adaptability, teamwork with others, world-mindedness, a broad appreciation of the values and interests of other peoples. He should study one or more of the modern languages, if possible, choosing those used in the area he has in mind. Above all, he should cherish every desire and develop every instinct along the line of soul winning, for this is his supreme aim, the objective of the Master for him whose mission he has undertaken and under whose banner he serves.