There was a call issued to young men in our denomination who would take up the work of the ministry.
But the Synod of 1949 has come and gone, and there is no one who answered the call. None came forth to be enrolled in our school. None to take up the ministry. None to heed this work of the Lord.
It is two years now since there has been a graduation from our theological school.
Where are the young men? We need young men.
We need young men and young women in our Christian schools too. Within a year or two there will be a greatly increased need for men and women to teach in the schools for Protestant Reformed instruction. There also we need consecrated help.
But let me this time emphasize the question: where are the young men to heed the call to the ministry and the preparation thereto at our theological school?
Why No Answer?
Why is there no response? The call seems to fall upon deaf ears. Why is this? Surely we are faced with this question and we search for an answer.
We ought to ask ourselves why this situation exists.
This situation comes upon us under the providence of God. We are fully conscious of that. But we are not fatalists. Under the providence of God there is connection between one factor and another, between cause and effect. While we go to the throne of God to ask Him to send forth reapers, we must also go to our own hearts and lives and inquire why this situation is upon us.
I want to show you this connection by way of a concrete example which can come straight from our real life.
When a young man has the opportunity to attend high school and has also the necessary gifts to take up such higher training, but refuses. . . . the door to the ministry is closed. That person makes it impossible to ever heed the call to take up the work of the Lori in the ministry. Or, worse yet, when the parents of this young person are indifferent too, or even opposed to giving their son a high school education, they have automatically closed the door to an eventual call into the ministry for their son. Thus the door to the ministry is closed and pious prayers for ministers means nothing as far as their case is concerned.
Our 1949 Synod has definitely postulated that entrance into the seminary requires a complete high school education. No one can enter our school except he have had a complete secondary education. Parents, your son cannot take up the ministry unless you provide him a secondary education. Young men, if you refuse a secondary education, or if you discontinue after you have begun, the door is closed to the ministry and every call the Synod sends must fall upon deaf ears.
There are, of course, young men who acquire a high school education and then abuse it. Sin is always with us and temptations beset us. We must condemn this abuse both in ourselves and in others. There are also who use this education for ends other than the ministry, and that is entirely normal and proper. But the point we want to emphasize now is that we tempt the providence of God if we expect our theological school to train ministers, while at the same time we refuse high school education to our sons.
The call for young men in the ministry is therefore first of all a call to the home, to the parents and the young people to acquire a secondary education at least.
Shall They Go On?
There are states whose laws compel our sons to continue education at least until an age which brings them into high school. But there are also localities where no such laws exist, or where there are loop holes enough so education need not be continued.
Shall they go on to school?
If not, remember, the door is closed to the ministry.
This pertains first of all to the parents. There are parents who are very indifferent about giving their sons higher education. There are parents who scoff at it. There are parents who can barely afford the added burdens of providing their sons such an education. There are also parents who are so eager to get their sons on the production line that they figure a high school education is a waste of time and waste of potential income. By sending your son to the neighbors to “work out”, to the assembly line, or to your own field or shop to save the expenses of a hired man, you succeed perhaps in finding in your son a mortgage lifter but you succeed thereby also in closing the door of the ministry to another young man.
Some parents maintain their position by saying that high school spoils their son, or this other excuse that they first want to see whether “there’s a minister in him or not” before sending him on. Forgetting meanwhile that the only way to find out what is in them generally is exactly to provide them an education. We do not maintain that every son MUST go on to higher education, but we do maintain that if you refuse your Son a higher education you have made an eventual call to the ministry impossible. That connection is there under the providence of God and we must observe it.
The call for young men to our theological school is therefore a call to our parents to consider the children which God has given them, if perhaps God would use them in the ministry of the Word. But if you refuse to give them that education, all other things being equal, you simply tell God beforehand that He must not call upon any of your sons. And is that not an evil? Are not our children an heritage of the Lord?
And as for our young men themselves, you ought seriously to consider the vocation which you intend to follow. Not all of you are equipped to become ministers of the gospel, but you must prayerfully consider whether the Lord has equipped you. Don’t let your vocation be determined by the glitter of gold or the quest of wealth but consider that God may want to use you in a position where you have comparatively little income. The call to the ministry must become a challenge. Can you consider choosing a vocation where you become servant to men and God, but with little earthy gain? Are you “big” enough to consider such a challenge?
We need more prayer that God may send forth laborers into His vineyard. We should hear those prayers from the pulpits and in our homes. May God prepare us parents and young men who have consecration and devotion enough to make the ministry their calling. . . . because it is God calling them thereto.
Lord of harvest, send forth reapers. Give us devoted parents who shall say: here is my son; and young men, who shall say: here I am, send me.