Greetings MOL Family!
After several weeks of study, we are coming to the end of this historic survey through our Advent Movement! We pray that you’ve learned many lessons from the experiences of our faithful pioneers. In today’s study, we shall conclude with the developments of the Madison School. Please click here, to review any of our past lessons. Maranatha!
The Nashville Agricultural and Normal Institute
Sister White wanted Brother Magan to go with her to Nashville and find an attorney, and get the articles of incorporation drawn up; because she said that school was to be organized and operated in a different way from our other schools. She told Brother Sutherland that she wanted him to go to Battle Creek and see if he could raise the money to buy it.
Sutherland went north to see his aunt, Mrs. Druillard – “Mother D,” as she was called. She had been for a number of years a missionary over in Africa with her husband. She was at this time the treasurer at Berrien Springs College. She was a very fine financier, a woman of unusual ability.
Sutherland told Mother D the story. She said, “Did you boys go down there and try to get a big farm like that? I will have nothing to do with such a venture.” Sutherland said, “I don’t blame you. We didn’t want to. But the Lord wouldn’t let us alone. We wanted to get a little place back up in the mountains.”
Sutherland told Mother D that if she couldn’t help them, he would have to go see someone else; because they had to get it. She told him she would go down and look it over with him. With that, Sutherland and his aunt got on the train. They were met by Sister White and Brother Magan.
Brother Magan said, “Ed, the gig is up. The lady at the place has changed her mind. She won’t sell it unless we give her a thousand dollars more.” Mother D said, “Good, you won’t have to go through with it.”
Sister White said, “I should say, we won’t let the devil beat us out of the place for a thousand dollars. This is the place the Lord wants us to have, and it’s cheap even at that price.”
So, they went out and looked at it. Mother D helped them. Sister White told Mother D, “Nelly, you think your work is about done. But if you will come here and unite with these boys and help them get this work started, the Lord will lengthen your days, and bless you in it.” Mother D did, and she lived for many years after that. She was one of the pillars at Madison.
Well, in October of 1904, they took possession of the place. The four pillars of that work were Sutherland and Magan, Mrs. Druillard, and Bessie DeGraw. Sutherland was the president. Magan was the dean. Bessie DeGraw was the dean of girls, but she wasn’t above gathering the eggs and carrying the butter to town to sell, for their butter and eggs were their main source of support during those early days while they were laying the foundation.
I have heard the interesting story about how Miss DeGraw would gather up the butter and eggs and drive into town to Nashville about 10 miles away with a horse and buggy. She had a linen duster that she wore to try to keep the dust off her clothes. She would go in the back doors of the hotels and restaurants to deliver butter and eggs. She would then take off the duster and go around to the front door and make the collections at the business offices.
Thus, in October of 1904 was laid the foundation of a little institution which had the long and high-sounding name of The Nashville Agricultural and Normal Institute. It is worth noting that it was incorporated as an institute. It is worth noting that the words agricultural and normal are in it. None of that was by chance; it was all by planning.
In the little leaflet Series B, # 11 of Special Testimonies entitled “The Madison School”, on page 5, Sister White is writing even before the place has been purchased; and telling the story to Elder Daniels, the president of the General Conference, and describing this place. You can see how it was on her heart. It is interesting that the letter was written on the boat before Sutherland and Magan had even looked at the place.
Sister White later wrote an article in 1904 telling about this work. Although it was not owned by the Conference, nor controlled by the Conference, nevertheless the prophet saw fit to tell our people about it, and encourage them to have a part in it with their means and support. It is a wonderful summary of the plan for that school. One reason I read it is because Sister White said that other schools like it should be established, and still others.
The plan upon which our brethren propose to work is to select some of the best and most substantial young men and women from Berrien Springs and other places in the north who believe that God has called them to the work in the south, and give them a brief training as teachers. Thorough instruction will be given in Bible study, physiology, and the history of our message. And special instruction in agriculture will be given. It is hoped that many of these students will eventually connect with schools in various places in the south. In connection with these schools will be land that will be cultivated by teachers and students, and the proceeds from this work will be used for the support of the school. – Review and Herald, 1804, pg. 9
There was the plan. Agriculture was to figure heavy in it. They were to be self-supporting schools, with agriculture as a foundation. Notice some of the subjects that were given emphasis: Bible study, physiology, and the history of our message. I want to ask you, are you getting instructions in any of these lines? There is nothing that inspires like following inspiration.
The facility’s acres were broad and extensive, but it had a small faculty and student body. If you had looked at it in those early days, you would have said, “A school? Well, where is the school? Where is the library? Where is the chapel? Where is the administration building? Where are the classrooms? Where are the dormitories?” And in each case, the answer would have made you either frown or smile, depending upon your reaction.
Really, friends, the surroundings and facilities were what would be called by many crude and insufficient. But I want you to notice what inspiration said about that humble, sacrificial, difficult, hard work:
“The class of education given at the Madison school is such as will be accounted a treasure of great value by those who take up missionary work in foreign fields. If many more in other schools were receiving a similar training, we as a people would be a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.
The message would be quickly carried to every country, and souls now in darkness would be brought to the light.” – An Appeal for the Madison School, May 25, 1908
I pause to ask, wouldn’t you think that with a statement like that people who were doing such a work would keep on doing such a work until it accomplished bringing an end to sin and sorrow all over this world? Wouldn’t you think so? Ah, but human nature is a most strange and interesting thing.
There are lessons to learn in the development of that work. We are looking at it in 1908, as inspiration described it. It was a simple work, a humble work. It was unaccredited, unrecognized. It was not organized according to the curricula of the universities and colleges. Oh, no. It was much more simple and much more practical.
Aiding the Cause of God
Do you think a plan which could have brought an end to the work back there might still bring the finishing of the work? It is worth pondering over, worth meditating on, and worth digging into the inspired blueprint for that work to see if there is something that you and I can do to carry it out at this late hour. Notice the very next sentence:
It would have been pleasing to God if, while the Madison school has been doing its work, other such schools had been established in different parts of the southern field. There is plenty of land lying waste that might have been improved as the land about the Madison school has been improved. – Ibid
Now watch as her vision broadens:
The time is soon coming when God’s people, because of persecution, will be scattered in many countries. Those who have received an all-around education will have a great advantage wherever they are. The Lord reveals divine wisdom in thus leading His people to train all their faculties and capabilities for the work of disseminating truth. Every possible means should be devised to establish schools of the Madison order in various parts of the south, and those who lend their means and their influence to help this work are aiding the cause of God. – Ibid
What did she call it? The cause of God. And wouldn’t you think, with commendations of that kind, and endorsement of that kind, and sponsorship of that kind, that everybody would have swung into line to encourage and support that type of work? One might think so. Sister White was a member of that board – the only institutional board she was ever a member of. But with that kind of appeal coming from the prophet of God, nevertheless, there was opposition, some open, some private. There was opposition all the way along. Would you like to know why?
“Many obstacles have been placed in the way of the pioneers of the Madison school of a nature to discourage them and drive them from the field. These obstacles were not placed there by the Lord. In some things the finite planning and devising of men have worked counter to the work of God. Let us be careful brethren lest we counter the work and hinder the progress of others, and so delay the sending forth of the gospel message. This has been done, and this is why I am now compelled to speak so plainly.” – Series B #11, pg. 31
Was there opposition? Did the prophet of God take cognizance of it? Oh, yes.
The Lord does not set limits about His workers in some lines as men are want to set. In their work Brethren Magan and Sutherland have been hindered unnecessarily. Means have been withheld from them because, in the organization and management of the Madison School, it was not placed under the control of the conference. But the reasons why this school was not owned and controlled by the conference have not been duly considered. – Ibid
There are four things I want you to notice in that paragraph. One is: in its organization and management Madison was not placed under the control of the conference. It wasn’t owned by the conference. It wasn’t owned or controlled by the conference. The second thing I want you to notice is: that is why they had the opposition they did. The third thing is: Sister White said there were reasons why it was not to be owned and controlled by the conference. The fourth thing is: those reasons had not been duly considered.
I want to encourage every one of you to study into the reasons why. You need to know for yourself why that school was to be owned and controlled as it was, not as some other schools. You will find the reasons set forth in the three tracts, Series B, #11, the little four-page leaflet, “An Appeal for the Madison School”, and this most interesting document, “Words of Encouragement to Self-Supporting Workers”.
These are the words which Sister White spoke when she came to the little school five years after it was started, and spoke at the first convention of self-supporting workers in the south held at Madison in April of 1909. Read them for yourself. As you read them notice that, just as back in Battle Creek years before, Sister White had tried so much to get the medical missionary workers and the evangelistic workers united, so in this work in the south she was seeking to get and keep the self-supporting work and the conference work close together in thinking and in spirit, but one not to be denominated by the other.
She was seeking to lead them to a true demonstration of the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17. And as you read these three documents, pray that God will anoint your eyes and hearts that you may see and carry out the vision which God gave back there over a century ago… Dear friends, it is yet to be fulfilled in all its fullness.
Our Father, we thank Thee for the trail of the vision. Grant us eyes to see, minds to understand, hearts to appreciate, and feet to travel in the path. We pray for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
We’ll see you and your invited guest next week, as we review some of the points that have been highlighted over the past several weeks of our Advent Movement Survey.
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.