By Perry B. Cotham
On June 10 Jim Waldron received a telephone call from an official of a university southwest of Kiev. In April Jim had visited the university and had discussed the possibility of finding two gospel preachers who would move to their city and begin a Bible-training institute on campus. They stated they would provide space for meetings and some housing for teachers, all free. The call was to ask if anyone had been found who would come and to say that Bible courses were being listed in the curriculum for this autumn. This illustrates the opportunities that are waiting to be snatched up in the former Soviet Union.
I was in Kiev June 4-19, where I lectured daily in the Bible-training program on the Holy Spirit and the dangers of Pentecostalism. I had come at the invitation of the Kiev Bible Institute. It meets on the campus of the Kiev Polytech Institute, which has an enrollment of about 37,000 in a city of more than 3,500,000.
Jim, who serves under the oversight of the elders of the Avondale church in Atlanta, has been preaching for 37 years, and more than 15 of those have been spent outside the United States in such places as Pakistan, India, Australia, and Hong Kong. His main thrust in mission work has been to set up Bible-training schools. Jim has also engaged in several debates. He understands the need for the gospel not only to be propagated but defended.
Cotham: Jim, what do you see as the greatest need to reach the masses in our generation?
Waldron: Our greatest need is well-trained evangelists and gospel preachers. An illustration of the shortage is right here in Kiev where we have only three men.
Cotham: You have mainly worked with training schools over the past 25 years. Do you think it is possible for the churches of Christ to get any significant number trained rapidly?
Waldron: Yes, if local churches start obeying the latter part of the great commission, that is, teaching Jesus' disciples to observe all things Christ commanded. The "Sunday school" and the liberal arts colleges are inadequate in effectively training the number of faithful men we need. Christian colleges have made the training of preachers a sideline. Every church must realize its responsibility to obey 2 Timothy 2:2, which is to train faithful men to teach others.
Cotham: How can it be so simple, for it costs a great deal of money to support a man while he trains?
Waldron: Local churches can begin their own effective Bible-training programs in their own buildings. Elders need to insist on comprehensive Bible courses with tests and memory work. This is an extremely serious matter, as there are 5.6 billion people on our earth most of them unsaved. The fields "are white already to harvest" (John 4:35).