WITH work being carried on in six countries and six major languages, as well as a number of other widely spoken languages and dialects, the Southeast Asia Union has some unique problems. Not the least of these is the difficulty of providing college training for workers in this multilanguage union.
Since English is the most widely spoken language in the union, our Southeast Asia Union College conducts its classes in English. But many of our workers in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore have had no English education and therefore cannot study in our college.
To meet this situation, four training schools have been held in the major languages of our field—Vietnamese, Malay, Chinese, and Thai. But a need is still present for the upgrading of workers who have been in the field for a number of years.
With the encouragement of H. W. Bed-well, the president of our union, a plan has been worked out with the Southeast Asia Union College to hold extension schools in the local missions. The classes in these extension schools are translated into the language of the country. We have just completed the first of these schools in the Thailand Mission. The second one is scheduled for the Sabah (formerly North Borneo) Mission.
Southeast Asia College is giving college credit to the students who qualify.
P. H. Eldridge taught a course covering all phases of evangelism, personal and public, with emphasis on personal evangelism. In 1965 he taught this same course at Andrews University Seminary Extension Schools held in India and Indonesia, so he came especially well prepared for this course. Because of the many years of mission service Pastor Eldridge has had, and his understanding of mission problems, he was able to make the course very practical for this area.
D. R. Guild taught a course covering the book of Romans. Rather than studying about the Bible, the students were taught to study the Bible itself. They made word-outline charts of key words with summaries, and chapter outlines with summaries. The book of Romans had to be read through many times in preparing for these classes.
Nineteen of the students attending are a part of the Thailand Mission staff. Eleven of the students are workers in the chaplain's departments of one of the three Adventist hospitals in Thailand.
The workers of Thailand feel that these courses are the most valuable training they have ever received. Six hours of homework was assigned each day, and some spent up to ten hours getting all the work done. Several of the workers said they have never used their brain so much before in all their lives. But they were not complaining, for in the same breath they asked if we could possibly have another extension school next year.
This was the first college extension school held in Thailand, and we feel it was so successful that we would like to have one every two years. Plans are already being made for the next one to be held in 1967, following the same plan of having one Bible-content course.