by Raymond J. Davis
There is a new dimension in missionary recruitment today. Although traditional missionary methods remain valid and cannot be displaced, consideration reveals hopeful new concepts hitherto not possible. The potential usefulness of almost any qualified Christian today in the mission fields of the world brings the question of personal involvement in Christ’s great commission, “Go ye into all the world,” before every Christian.
There is a new dimension in missionary recruitment today. Although traditional missionary methods remain valid and cannot be displaced, consideration reveals hopeful new concepts hitherto not possible. The potential usefulness of almost any qualified Christian today in the mission fields of the world brings the question of personal involvement in Christ’s great commission, "Go ye into all the world," before every Christian.
The Sudan Interior Mission has a program whereby qualified missionary personnel may be recruited for short-term assignments wherever there is a specified need. We believe God has shown us a vast, untapped source of available dedicated missionary material in the church today. This short-term program is designed to enlist this potential: the service of a dedicated, qualified people who desire to devote a part of their lives to such a special service for Christ.
Consecrated servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who recognize their own personal responsibility before God for the evangelization of the world are eligible. Basic to such eligibility is the understanding that in any area of service for Christ divine appointment is the only worthy motivation.
Certainly not all Christians are called to serve their entire lifetime on the mission fields of the world. Such persons who are able to meet the essential qualifications of spiritual maturity and recognized training may be privileged by God to spend a shorter span of time on the mission fields and thus be enabled to contribute positively and helpfully.
Short-term service is first and foremost a missionary program. Its objective and goal is the calling out and development of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not a substitute for, but a complement to lifetime missionary service.
MANY AREAS OF SERVICE
The vehicle of this service may be in almost any field of training, such as education, medicine, radio, journalism, Bible teaching. Employable on the mission field as short-term missionaries are doctors, nurses, teachers, Bible teachers, journalists, accountants, bookkeepers, stenographers, printers, technicians of all kinds, including X-ray and medical, maintenance men, bookshop managers, literature salesmen, radio engineers, hospital administrators, evangelists. One might say that almost anything that is being done today to earn a living at home may be usefully employed upon the mission field.
The missionary purpose, whether lifetime or short-term, is to bring Spirit-filled Christians into vital living contact with choice young nationals. The value of this contact, to be of enduring worth, depends principally upon the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His operation in the life of the witness.
On most mission fields abroad there was once a hard and fast ceiling of thirty years of age for all missionary candidates. This still represents the ideal in most respects. However, the present ease of travel, quick communications, improved health and living conditions, widespread literacy in the English language, and the development of specialized techniques that may be usefully employed in missionary work now make it feasible for older people to enlist.
It may now be said that any persons of reasonable age, in good health, single or married, with or without children, who meet the basic spiritual and academic qualifications may serve the Lord in Africa. By so doing, they will, in some instances, enable the mission to expand more rapidly in areas requiring the specific training or qualification they possess. Their going may release experienced field-qualified missionaries for key appointments. Some will be used to augment already overtaxed, heavily burdened staff in the training of others in medicine, education, and technical fields. Some will fill vacancies caused by temporary leave, vacations and furloughs.
Short-term missionary service is a special, flexible, supplementary enlistment program designed to utilize the vast potential now largely unused in the church today, which will not or, for a good reason, cannot be otherwise enlisted. Specialized skills, gifts, and training are required, but in themselves they are insufficient. Only those who are being consciously led by the Holy Spirit to volunteer for such dedicated service should apply.
Our first short-term missionaries were recruited for a special need-teaching in English in the SIM teacher training schools -and were actually in Nigerian class-rooms within four months of acceptance by the Home Council.
The question may be asked, "What have they been able to contribute so far?" The SIM West African Education Secretary, Howard Dowdell, is enthusiastic. "They have made possible an additional intake of sixty student teachers this year." He says, "They have enabled us to establish junior College level work at Titcombe College with an additional intake of twenty students. They have reinforced our overpressed staffs and encouraged us all."
Mr. Dowdell continues, "Here in Nigeria we have a particular expansion program that has helped to call forth a special short-term program. It is now known that a number of senior missionary educators will be needed to make possible our planned expansion. The need for senior missionary educators will reach its peak in 1968 and thereafter level off. It may be, as time goes on, we will have to increase our estimates because of new opportunities. At present it appears we will have a substantial number of African senior educators joining us from 1966 onward, as a result of a vastly accelerated training program that has been going on through the 1960’s.
"As these senior African educators join us the need for missionary teachers will become lessened. Thus the short-term program will bring out reserves to serve this, peak missionary need until such time as Nigerians are able to inherit the legacy of our expanded training program. By using missionary educators now for a limited period in a carefully planned strategic expansion, it will make possible a greater work in 1970 and onward. If this present opportunity is not now fully exploited, we cannot expand later. If the development of Christian schools and Christian institutions is to go on apace with other aspects of development in this country, such unprecedented, nevertheless temporary and perhaps fleeting open doors must be entered now."
Some will, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, remain on after their terms are finished. Those who return to the homeland will do so with a greatly increased appreciation of what it means to serve the Lord in Africa. Their entire remaining years will be totally different because of this shortterm assignment overseas.
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