Another Field Extension School, of six weeks' duration, conducted by a teaching team from the parent Seminary at Washington, D.C., has just been concluded in Mexico for the four Spanish-speaking unions of the Inter-American Division the Antillian, Central-American, Colombia-Venezuelan, and Mexican. It was the third in the series. The first, for Northern Europe, was held in England in 1948. The second, for South America, was conducted in Uruguay in 1950, These extension schools have been progressive in value and efficacy. The first was a pioneering experiment, breaking new ground but creating a request for another. The second, building upon the path- finding experience of the first, established the pattern and left abiding results. And now this third school was held at our Montemorelos Vocational and Professional College, June 8 to July 19.
It has been acclaimed a success by students, translators, and division and union leaders alike. In fact, it immediately created a demand for a similar school for the English-speaking unions of the division. Official request for this has already been lodged with the General Conference by the officers of Inter-America, with the expressed desire for a second follow-up school for this Spanish section a few years hence. More than that, it has created a conviction on the part of leaders who observed the school in operation that this extension plan should become a permanent and regular provision for all divisions desiring it. (The fourth is already scheduled for South Africa for December-January.)
The teaching team was comprised of Dr. Sieg fried H. Horn, director, who gave a strong course on Old Testament Backgrounds, with impressive historical and archaeological sup porting evidences; Melvin K. Eckenroth, who presented the fundamental principles of successful evangelism and Christ-centered presentation of all truth; and LeRoy E. Froom, who gave the historical backgrounds of our prophetic faith and applied them to the great advance just before us. To these regular courses should be added the final week of highly helpful instruction during the chapel periods, given by Arthur L. White, on the Spirit of prophecy.
Fivefold Formula of Success
The strength of the work done may be attributed to five factors: (1) The strong moral support of the divisional and Mexican union leaders. Finer backing and participation could not have been given Lloyd L. Reile, acting for the division as assistant director for the first three weeks, and Arthur H. Roth, carrying through to successful conclusion for the final three weeks, culminating in modest graduation exercises on July 19. (2) The highly competent work of the leading translators Henry J. Westphal, William E. Baxter, Jr., Charles Taylor, and Arthur H. Roth all second generation missionaries with skilled knowledge of the Spanish. (3) An eager student body evangelists, pastors, teachers, administrators, editors, and Bible instructors who came to study and to learn. (4) The close integration and unity of the subjects taught and their definitely practical nature. (5) The highly spiritual and constructive character of the classes, chapel periods, and teacher counsels.
There was solid scholastic requirement, with appropriate tests. But the greatest contribution was doubtless in the new concept of this message that was brought to the men its dignity, soundness, power, and appeal, and the world character of the truths whose time for utterance has come. The courses given helped to change the basic attitude of the students from defenders of a small and despised sect to champions of the majestic truth of God set for this hour, and not only supported by the truth of the ages, but now buttressed by evidences utterly beyond our former limited concepts. The work was definitely constructive and faith-building. It left men with a reverent confidence in its glorious triumph. And its total effect was not only to broaden the horizons and to enlarge the work ers' concept of this message but to foster a world unity of spirit that is supremely needed today. Its end result was the creating of a passion for study and greater efficiency in ministry that will assuredly be heard from in days to come. Its goal was to produce not only ardent, intelligent, and skilled crusaders for a cause, but men surcharged with divine power, combined with human skills, and buttressed by un shakable convictions.
A simple but beautiful climax to the school came on the week end of July 18 and 19, with the consecration service by the division president, Glenn Calkins, the baccalaureate sermon by a General Conference vice-president, Louis K. Dickson, and a short graduation address by the director, S. H. Horn. A surprise response from the students was given, with Daniel Moncada as spokesman, presenting to the parent Seminary a beautiful serape picturing a blazing torch of truth, with four beams of light going out to the four benefiting unions of the division. The story of this" school is visualized by the accompanying pictures.
Special Emphasis in Chapel Periods
One week of special chapel talks by Dr. Horn brought convincing evidence of the accuracy of the Old and New Testament texts. He showed how the manuscript discoveries of the last hundred years have re-established, first, the authenticity of the text of the New Testament, and now, more recently, the reliability of the Old Testament. He pointed out how the discovery of the Dead Sea Hebrew scrolls has vindicated our faith in the text of the Old Testament Scriptures transmitted to us. Also he showed how a very recent discovery of Jewish documents, written in the time of Nehemiah, has given us the extra-Biblical proof of the existence and observance of an autumn-to-autumn calendar reckoning among the Jews of that period. This evidence furnishes a solid scientific foundation for our view that the date of the decree of Ezra 7 is 457 B.C.
And during the last ten days of the school Arthur L. White, of the E. G. White Publications, gave a vivid portrayal of the life and ministry of Ellen G. White. He sought to build a. sounder basis for confidence through better acquaintance with the manifestation of the prophetic gift of the Spirit of prophecy. This was accomplished by the recital of experiences of early days illustrating the manner in which the Lord led, protected, and enlightened His people. The stories told, the pictures used, the interesting exhibits of rare documents displayed, and the question hour, all helped to create a better understanding of the plan and usefulness of the prophetic gift. All came to feel that they almost knew Ellen White personally, and were better prepared to make the best use of the counsels given.
Listening In on the Classes
A few sentences from two of the classes might be of interest. Here is M. K. Eckenroth speak ing to his evangelism class:
"Evangelism is to occupy an ever larger place in the planning of the Adventist worker. This is to be more marked as we enter the swiftly moving events of the last grim hours of earth's history. Because of the conditions existing in these unusual times the evangelistic perspective must of necessity submit to adaptation. Only in this way can the evangelist adequately meet the ever-shifting psychology of the times. An expression of genuine love as true reformers will make the work of the Adventist evangelist the foremost in all the world. The basic philosophy that underscored the Master's evangelism and His manner of work must occupy an increasingly large place in our twentieth-century planning.
"Like the Master Evangelist, we too must learn how to begin propitiously with the people where we find them, and then, with proper fraternization, gain their confidence, and thus with patience and love lead them into the full sunlight of the truth without the employment of endless argument, cold logic, and legalistic debate. This is the way Christ led the people of His day from their low levels of spiritual perception to the high vistas of His eternal kingdom. Every utterance of the Master, each look of tenderness, even the tones of His voice, gave unerring evidence of His identification with them and their interests. Thus they loved to be in His presence and learn of His kingdom. This is the twentieth-century challenge to the Seventh-day Adventist evangelist."
Next comes the class in prophetic interpretation. Here is what the instructor is saying:
"Ours is the task of fostering the true world concept of our movement and mission, the essential unity of our forces and operations, the spiritual dynamic awaiting our reception, which alone will finish the work. It is this spiritual emphasis on the prophecies as setting forth not merely the sequence of empires, or even the development of a controversy, but the unfolding of the great redemption activity of God as centered in the first and second advents of Christ, with the final preparation of a people readied to meet God that is the supreme purpose of it all. This lifts prophecy out of a detached recital of conflicting forces to a powerful evangelistic appeal. It changes it from a body of intellectual truth to a moving power drawing the soul Godward.
"Moreover, it automatically changes our entire attitude from defense of unpopular prophetic truth, regarded by the modern religious world as a heretical innovation, to the conscious recovery and the championship of the true orthodoxy of the early church, and the restoration and consummation of the Reformation. It puts us in the line of the true reformers of the centuries, in contrast with the latter-day departures from the purer faith that surrounds us. It is a restoration, just as with the Sabbath, immersion, or conditional immortality. This creates tremendous personal conviction and power of appeal, lifting prophecy to its rightful, primary place as an unparalleled evangelistic force for the winning of souls."
Practical Medical Missionary Work
Two related features are likewise to be noted. One was the highly practical medical missionary work of translator Baxter, Bible teacher at our Montemorelos training school, whose faithful work on a unique missionary project was brought to fruitful climax during the extension school in the dedication of a modest little church at Rayones, hidden away in a secluded valley, accessible only by airplane piloted by Pastor Baxter a "Stinson 150" shown in the picture. Fourteen lives had been saved by bringing persons seriously ill to the Monte- morelos hospital. Twenty-five patients had been carried to the place of help. A company of believers has been formed, and is now provided with a house of worship. This was the reward of such pioneering service.
Classroom Principles Applied in Effort
The leading corollary of the school was a limited series of evangelistic meetings conducted in Mexico City by M. K. Eckenroth from July 13 to August 24. Many of the students of the extension school participating in the Mexican Union session immediately following thus had opportunity of observing the principles taught in the classroom put into practical field operation. Techniques such as the organization of a correspondence school, the prayer list plan, the registry plan, et cetera, were seen in actual operation.
The meetings were unique in that they were conducted on a bilingual basis. By means of two projectors the various texts, quotations, charts, et cetera, could be projected simultaneously on a central screen. This feature attracted a bilingual audience of English- and Spanish- speaking people. An opaque projector was employed in illustrating the songs for this bilingual audience. Royal Reid, of Southern California, led the music, with Beth Thurston, of the Voice of Prophecy, at the organ. Mary Walsh, of the Columbia Union, directed the personal work and conducted instructional classes among the laymen workers. Charles Taylor, of the Mexican Union, served as translator. The objective was to provide a laboratory for our pastors and Bible instructors.
The difficulties were very real. Catholic leaders warned the people to stay away from the services. Nuns went from door to door admonishing the people. The familiar threat of ex communication was employed and threat of business boycott is very real to those who are in Mexico purely for business purposes. But the attendance of nationals continued at capacity.
Mexico Had Own Advent Herald in 1834
One fascinating accompaniment of the trip to Mexico was the pursuit of a special research project securing all available source data from the libraries at Monterrey, Mexico City, Toluca, and Puebla concerning Jose Maria Gutierrez de Rozas, Mexican high court justice. He had published three works in Mexico bearing upon the Second Advent. In 1834 he wrote that the great meteoric display of November, 1833, seen all over Mexico, was a sign of the Second Ad vent of Christ, which he believed to be near. He is thus another link in the impressive global chain of witnesses, this time in Inter-America, concerning the world-encircling nineteenth-century witness, doubtless influenced by Lacunza's writings at the turn of the century. This testimony was needed to round out the evidence of volume 4 of Prophetic Faith, showing the world character of this breaking forth of the great Second Advent message. This was similar to the evidence on Francisco Ramos Mexia, in Argentina, previously obtained after extension school number two.
Fundamental Principles and Obvious Lessons
This recital is designed to be more than a mere report. It is an analysis and an appraisal of the extension-school plan. There was a wide range of educational background among the students. Some had full college training; others had but a few grades of formal schooling. But all were helped, and we must never exclude the most needy from our efforts. It is to be remembered that God often uses humble instrumentalities to accomplish His greatest marvels of transforming grace. In the Mexican Union session immediately following the extension school, reports from the various missions were given. Some of the most moving and amazing results in evangelistic advance were told by simple, devoted men who had had much difficulty scholastically in the extension school. They did not have sufficient background training to win the academic laurels, but they absorbed much and were definitely helped. In all probability they may use it more definitely than some of the more highly trained. They belonged in the school. It would have been wrong to exclude them.
The lesson is obvious: We must be careful how we measure men. It is entirely possible to have an artificial evaluation that God does not recognize or approve. Moreover, it would be quite unlikely that certain college-trained work ers who walked away with the academic honors could successfully live and happily work with some of the primitive tribes and peoples where God is doing His greatest wonders. The conditions would pall on them, and they would not be willing to remain. But these humbler men, themselves lifted from such backgrounds, joy fully and successfully continue to do exploits for God in such environs. This is one of the fundamental lessons learned, indicating that our extension schools must accommodate themselves to the conditions and deal with the realities, meeting every need and challenge of the field. We must not become so scholastic as to make mere grades and the intellectual I.Q. the criteria of all successful and acceptable service and the sole mark of God's approving smile.
The experience of these extension schools, and I have been an instructor in all of them, has deepened my conviction that our ministers in all parts of the world are both eager for and able to absorb this advanced training, and given such opportunity they will rise to greater spiritual power in their service for God.