Greetings MOL Family!
A happy, new (civil) year to you and your family! Welcome back to *our “Homeheading” series. Now we’ve been noting in the Bible, both the Old and New Testament, interesting experiences in connection with the family plan of training. Today, we begin something new, getting down to modern times. And we’re going to notice these methods as used in the Advent movement…
Home: A Place of Ministry
We’re going to notice particularly some of the experiences of Elder James and Sis. Ellen White. As you know, Sis. White was the prophet to whom the Lord gave many visions, over a 70 year period. And her husband, Elder James White, was one of the earliest leaders. In fact, He was the outstanding leader in the early history of our work.
Elder and Sis. White had four children; all boys. The oldest died in his teens, the youngest died as a babe. The other two boys grew to adult life. Bro. James Edson was the older. Bro. William, or Willie as he was called, was the younger of the two.
As Sister White, along with her husband, was bringing up these four boys, they had some other responsibilities besides that of parents. They had the church to think about. She was the prophet, an unusual responsibility.
And Elder White was several times the president of the General Conference. He was also the promoter of the Review and Herald; the one that led out in establishing it, first as “Present Truth”, and then under the name “The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald”. He was the pusher in starting the new sanitarium called The Western Reform Institute; and also in establishing the college in the mid 1870s. Besides that, he was the leader in bringing in church organization, which was established by forming the General Conference in 1863, nearly 20 years after the beginning of the Advent movement in 1844.
Then Elder and Sister White did a great deal of traveling, holding meetings in various places, camp meetings and conferences, giving counsel. Sister White had many responsibilities in writing out in longhand, for it was before the days of typewriters, in her earlier years of ministry, testimonies to different ones.
I rather think if any of us had half to do of the things I have talked about, we would say we had our hands full. Would you agree with me? And yet, in spite of all that, or perhaps I ought to say, partly because of it, their home was very much the type of home we’ve been studying, a home that was a place of ministry.
…To Thy House
In the book, Welfare Ministry, pages 321-322, we have some interesting comments on the life and work of Elder and Sis. White. The first is from Elder J. O. Corliss who, as a boy or a young man, was under the influence of Elder and Sister White. He’s writing in the “Review and Herald”:
“Not only was Mrs. White a strong counselor for her husband, to guard him against making mistakes that would jeopardize the cause in any part, but she was most careful to carry out in her own course the things she taught to others. For instance, she frequently dwelt in her public talks upon the duty of caring for widows and orphans, citing her hearers to Isaiah 58:7-10…” – Welfare Ministry, pg. 321
Let’s turn and look at that and see what it was that she was citing her hearers to. Then, we’ll go on with what Elder Corliss says. We’ll read the 6th verse with it:
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry [Whose bread? — Your own] and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? – Isaiah 58:6-7
The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the poor farm, the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare center? Now all of those are good, aren’t they, but that isn’t what it says, is it? What is it? — To thy house. You mean, actually bring poor people to my house?
When thou see the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily… – Isaiah 58:7-8
By the way, besides all these burdens I’ve been telling you that Elder and Sister White carried, were they often troubled with sickness? It had been brought on by their habits of ignorance, before the light on health reform came. But again and again, as they ventured out to do what God said, He blessed them with health and strength. Now back to this:
“She frequently dwelt in her public talks upon the duty of caring for widows and orphans, citing her hearers to Isaiah 58:7-10; and she exemplified her exhortations by taking the needy to her own home for shelter, food, and raiment.” – Welfare Ministry, pg. 321
What does shelter mean? Well, they stayed there, maybe overnight, maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe longer. But the thing is, it wasn’t just bringing them in out of the rain on the porch. Food – I wonder if somebody gave her a budget for that. And raiment, what’s that? — Clothes. Elder Corliss says:
“I well remember her having at one time, as members of her family, a boy and girl and a widow and her two daughters.” – Ibid
How many was that? — Five. That’s beside her own family, you understand.
“I have, moreover, known her to distribute to poor people hundreds of dollars’ worth of new clothes which she bought for that purpose. “ – J. O. Corliss, Review and Herald, August 30, 1923
Old, Elder G. B. Starr and his wife were associated with Sister White for a number of years in Australia. They were personally acquainted with the fact that Sister White often wore old clothes and gave new clothes to the poor people. And she explained it this way: That she and those with her were able to use those better than the poor people. That they knew how to do it, and some of these poor people needed the help that a good dress or a good suit of clothes would give them. What a spirit of love that is.
Here’s another statement on page 322, this is from Welfare Ministry. Another minister who knew the Whites:
“Elder White was himself a very philanthropic man.” – Welfare Ministry, pg. 322
What does that word philanthropic mean? If you take the word and dissect it, you’ll find it means a lover of mankind. That’s what it means. A philanthropist is one who loves people. Elder and Sister White were that.
“He always lived in a large house, but there were no vacant rooms in it. Although his immediate family was small, his house was always filled with widows and their children, poor friends, poor brethren in the ministry, and those who needed a home. His heart and his pocketbook were always open, and he was ready to help those who needed help. He certainly set a most noble example to our denomination in his large heartedness and liberality of Spirit.” – The Medical Missionary, February 1894, Ibid
An Example To Others
I thought you’d be interested in those window lights of the home life of Elder and Sister White. How could they do this traveling when they had these little children? In the book, The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, by Elder L. H. Christian, we have a number of letters quoted from Sister White that she wrote to her children. Now, here is a letter that she wrote to them when Henry was 10 years old, Edson was 8 years old, and Willie 3 years old. Now, imagine three boys, 10, 8, and 3 at home, and the father and mother are traveling.
Your parents have to travel from place to place among the people of God to try to do them good and save souls. And the Lord has inclined Sisters Genny and Martha to come into our family to feel an interest for you, to love you, and to care for you that we may leave home feeling free. They are not related to you. They make a sacrifice. What for? Because they love you. When you grieve them you grieve your parents also. – The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pg. 77
You can imagine these two young women who were helping in the home trying to care for these three growing, active boys while the parents were away.
It is not a desirable task to have the care of children if they are ungrateful and disobedient. If you perseveringly try to do right you will make them happy, and they will feel it a pleasure to deny themselves to have a care for you. When asked to do anything, do not say, Wait a minute till I do this. Now dear children, obey because you love to, not because you are driven to. I shall have confidence that you will do as I wish you to. I shall confide in your honor, your manliness. – Ibid
Manliness: the oldest was 10 years old, then 8, and down to 3. Writing to the older boy she says:
Be good to Willie. Love him. Teach him right things. – bid
These are excerpts from letters that she wrote to her children from time to time. Now, I ought to make plain that I’m not suggesting that God has called all fathers and mothers to travel over the country leaving their children in the care of somebody else. This is very unusual. But Elder and Sister White were called to an unusual work. My point is, and don’t miss this, that with all this unusual work they were called to, they felt the burden and sensed the responsibility of making their home a place to take care of people that needed entertaining for shorter or longer periods. That’s the thing I want you to get.
On page 55 of this same book, Sister White tells her own experience. This is a letter she wrote to Elder O. A. Olsen who had been president of the General Conference. This was written in 1905 when she was nearly 80 years old:
After my marriage I was instructed. – Ibid
Notice she did this by revelation. It wasn’t just an idea that came to her.
After my marriage I was instructed that I must show a special interest in motherless and fatherless children, taking some under my own charge for a time and then finding homes for them. Thus I would be giving others an example of what they could do. – Ibid., pg. 55
So one of the reasons that the Lord instructed Sister White to do this was that she might be what? — An example to others.
I have felt it my duty to bring before our people that for which those in every church should feel a responsibility. I have taken children from three to five years of age and have educated them and trained them for responsible positions. I have taken into my home from time to time boys from ten to sixteen years of age, giving them motherly care and a training for service. These boys have now grown to manhood, and some of them occupy positions of trust in our institutions. One was for many years head pressman in the Review and Herald. Another stood for years as foreman at the type department in the Review and Herald.
In Australia I carried on this same work, taking into my home orphaned children who were in danger of being exposed to temptations that might cause the loss of their souls. While we were in Australia we worked as medical missionaries in every sense of the word. At times I made my home in Cooranbong an asylum for the sick and afflicted. – Ibid
What does she mean an asylum? — A refuge, a place where the sick and afflicted could come.
My secretary, who had received training in the Battle Creek Sanitarium, stood by my side and did the work of a missionary nurse. No charge was made for her services, and we won the confidence of the people by the interest that we manifested in the sick and suffering. – Ibid.
What a picture!
Next I’m going to share with you from “The Youth’s Instructor” of July 18, 1939, an article by Elder Spalding, one of the historians of this movement. He was personally acquainted with Sister White. In fact, he lived in her home for a period when he was a young man, acted as one of her secretaries.
“Sister White’s household consisted for the most part not of relatives but of helpers.” – The Youth’s Instructor, July 18, 1939
He’s speaking here of Sister White’s home at Elms haven when Sister White was in her 70’s.
“Sister White’s household consisted for the most part not of relatives but of helpers. Some of them lodged in the house, others outside. But at the table and at the worship hours morning and night there met a company who made up the family. I do not remember them all, but besides the housekeeper and the cook I recall Sister Sarah McEnturfer.” – Ibid
Sarah McEnturfer was Sister White’s personal attendant in those years.
“Mary Steward; Maggie Hare Bree; May Walling, Sister White’s niece; Minnie Hawkins, a young woman, a secretary from Australia; and Clarence C. Crisler who headed the secretarial staff. Sister White appeared regularly at the dinner table and at evening worship.” – Ibid
Apparently sometimes, she was busy. It was her habit in those years when she was an old lady to be up in the morning at 2:00 or 3:00. She had everything arranged so she could make her own fire on the grate, and she’d be up writing. But she was always with the family, this says, at the dinner hour and at evening worship.
Elder Spalding in the same paper, issue of July 11, 1939, tells of an interesting experience he had in her home: He was using the ironing board, and Sister White happened to pass:
“She turned and came over to my ironing board. ‘I used to do that for my husband,’ she said, “before he was taken away from me.’ She fingered the cloth with a knowing touch. ‘That is very excellent goods,’ she remarked. ‘I did the shopping too, and I was always careful to get durable goods like this’
“And then she went on to speak of her children when they were little in those strenuous days of ministry which I had so often read in Life Sketches.” – Ibid
Sometime during the time that you are homeheading, take time to share with your worship group some of the experiences of the White’s, as given in the early pages of Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, or in Life Sketches. They are very interesting.
“‘I had to leave my children so much,’ she said with a shading of sadness in her voice. ‘I had so often to leave them in the care of others, and not all of those who cared for them loved them or knew how to train them’.” – Ibid
So, she didn’t have perfect babysitters.
“‘I would have stayed with my children, but God told me to go. Yet my Heavenly Father saved them, though with many trials. And He has given me other children. Thousands of them. The children of God’s people whom I love. You are one of my children,’ she said to me with a direct look. ‘Are you not one of my children?’ I nodded speechless, tears in my eyes.” – Ibid
What a picture!
Is your home a place of ministry? If not, it can be!
Join us next week, as we read more from the examples of Sis. White, to understand God’s plan of ministry for the home. Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
Did you know that we have more online classes available (and posted daily)?
- Country Living
- Courtship & Marriage
- The Christian Home
- Child Guidance
- Army of Youth
- The School of Health
- Other Present Truth Studies
*This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.