Few Seventh-day Adventist youth have not at some time thought seriously of giving their lives 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.
True Adventists want Jesus to come. They want the world to know of that impending event and 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?
Those who observe the work in the church are impressed by the fact that use is made of a large variety of workers of special ability: evangelists, evangelistpastors, teachers, colporteurs, departmental secretaries, treasurers, doctors, 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 turning out scores of youth who are taking their places in the expanding work. Overseas workers may thus find themselves 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 missionaries, who are sent at considerable expense to journey and labor afar, must be able to make a real contribution in some particular line of work. They must be prepared by training and experience to do their assigned tasks well and to achieve tangible results. Perhaps, then, workers who go to more highly developed fields should have some experience in the homeland before being sent out to teach and lead others. Experience is a unique teacher, and there is no substitute for practical experience in learning certain skills and developing good judgement.
Lest some 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
Following are several lines of missionary work and a few qualifications for each:
Pioneering workers, especially among primitive peoples, should know Bible work and should be able to speak in public. They should have practical training and mechanical skills and know the rudiments of hygiene and simple medical treatment.
Evangelists, 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.
Directors of a mission station or field should have the ability to solve church problems and to get along with the people and with fellow workers. They 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 skills, financial insight, experience in preparing and using budgets, knowledge of church and conference accounting systems, as well as general leadership qualities.
Doctors, dentists, nurses, or technicians are usually qualified professionally. They should also be gifted in training and developing 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: 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. Individual must be properly trained, missionary-minded, mature enough to be sent out single as a missionary (age 25 or older), yet young enough to adapt to a changed environment and learn a foreign language if necessary.
Calls are often received in the General Conference for managers of sanitariums, schools, or printing plants. Again, the need arises for qualified departmental leaders in an established line of church activity: publishing, Sabbath school, educational, young people's, or missionary work. It is evident that the requirements for these lines are more specialized, and only those with sufficient experience can qualify.
Some may question 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.
Youth who aspire to become a foreign missionaries should study and evaluate their own talents and seek counsel from those who know them well enough to evaluate their best aptitudes. They should endeavor to promote their own health and learn how best to preserve it under difficult conditions. They should cultivate adaptability, teamwork with others, world-mindedness, and a broad appreciation of the values and interests of other cultures. They should study one or more of the modern languages, if possible, choosing those used in the area they hope to serve. Above all, they should cherish every desire and develop every instinct along the line of soul-winning, for this is the supreme aim, the objective of the Master for Him whose mission they have undertaken and under whose banner they serve.
W. Paul Bradley was Associate Secretary of the General Conference when this article was written.