Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Review and Herald

January 6, 1891

Home Missions

By Mrs. E. G. White

While there is an awakening among our people in regard to foreign missions, there should also be much more interest than is now shown in home missions. This zeal for foreign work should kindle zeal for home work also. Some who have long professed to be Christians, and yet have felt no responsibility for the souls of those who are perishing right around them, within the shadow of their own homes, may feel a burden to go to foreign lands, to take hold of a work far off; but where is the evidence of their fitness for such a work? Wherein have they manifested a burden for souls? Let such begin the work at home, in their own household, in their own neighborhood, among their own friends. Here they will find a favorable missionary field. This home missionary work is a test, revealing their ability or inability for service in a wider field.

This is the work that the Lord is constantly keeping before me. Who is carrying this burden? Who is doing this kind of missionary work? It is left undone. Children of Sabbath-keepers are not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Those who feel no real burden for the souls in their own houses, who cannot educate and discipline their children, in the kindness, patience, and forbearance of Christ, have no work to do in larger missions. Let them do their home-work in the fear and love of God, showing their tact and wisdom by presenting to the church and the world a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. Such a family will indeed be a power for good; its influence will be far-reaching.

Fathers and mothers should awake to their God-given responsibilities, and so order their families that they may present to Him who hath loved us and died for us, the results of their painstaking labor. In educating their children, they themselves are gaining precious knowledge, learning how to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice, and to love mercy, to be patient, to be true and faithful to their Heavenly Father, as they would have their children be obedient to them. Those who do not feel the responsibilities of their home missionary work, are not fitted to be missionaries in the neighborhood, in the church, or in foreign countries. Let parents and churches awake from the delusion that Satan has cast upon them. Let them not allow their children to do as they please, and then complain of God because these children are impenitent, wayward, and irreligious. This state of things reveals a neglect on their part toward the lambs of the flock. They have been absorbed in things of minor importance, and their home-work has been negligently done. When you have come up to the point of faithfully performing the work in your own homes, there is a work for you to do in the neighborhood, in the church, in the town where you live.

In the case of Philip and Nathanael, we have an example of true home missionary work. Philip had seen Jesus, and was convinced that he was the Messiah. The knowledge he had received was so blessed to him that he wished his friends, also, to know the good news. He was desirous that the light and truth which had brought him such comfort and joy, should be shared by Nathanael. True grace in the heart will always reveal its existence by diffusing itself. Philip went in search of Nathanael, and as he called, Nathanael answered from his place of prayer under the fig-tree. Nathanael had not had the privilege of listening to the words of Jesus, but he was being drawn toward him in spirit. He longed for light and truth, and was at that moment sincerely praying for them. Philip with joy exclaimed, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth.” This is the way light is to be communicated,—by private, personal effort. In the home circle, at your neighbor's fireside, at the bedside of the sick, in a quiet way you may read the Scriptures, and speak a word for Jesus and the truth. Precious seed may thus be sown, that will spring up and bring forth fruit after many days.

When God reveals the light of his love and truth to one person, it is not to be confined or hidden in that one; he is to let the light shine forth, by making personal efforts for the salvation of those who are in darkness. We need not live an aimless life. Every one who has a knowledge of the truth, a realization of what Jesus is to him, is made a depositary of eternal truth, to impart to others. One truly converted soul may become a channel of light to the whole family, the whole neighborhood; and the more one makes known to others the riches of the grace of Christ, the more will his own light and grace increase. There is that scattereth and yet increaseth, and there is a withholding that tendeth to poverty.

When the worker goes forth with the message of truth, he will meet obstacles, but these will only drive him closer to the self-denying Redeemer. As he meets unbelief, and as objections come up to what he has believed and advanced, he is led to see the necessity of searching the Scriptures more thoroughly. The true, earnest worker who trusts in Jesus, will combine simplicity and meekness with a firmness and solidity of character that will lead him to speak with certainty, yet without boasting or self-exaltation. His fitness to work for the uplifting of the world, as Christ and the angels are working, will depend largely upon the distinctness of the line of demarkation which separates him from the spirit and customs of the world. He is to be a laborer together with God, to lead upward to a pure and holy standard.

Men are selfish by nature. They act from impulse, without reference to the will of God. Their own will is their criterion. He who would lead souls away from the world, must have great wisdom. His lessons must be given by example as well as by precept; he must possess the same self-denying spirit that was in Christ. If he cherishes the spirit that the world has, he will give evidence of it by seeking his own ease and pleasure and honor; he will be indolent, doing his work negligently, loving luxuries, living like the world. To those who have this spirit, God speaks, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” Our work for the salvation of souls will not be done without a conflict. We shall have to practice self-denial, overcome inclination, relinquish the spirit and passions of the world, and be ready to sacrifice even life itself, if need be, for Christ's sake.

The spirit and works of Christ's disciples stand out in vivid contrast to the selfishness of the world. His followers give evidence that they are controlled by a will-power that is higher than any human will. In order to succeed in our labors, we must work with God, be moved by his Spirit. Then he will work with us. “Without me ye can do nothing;” with Christ we can do all things. There must be a coming out from the world,—a separation in interest, in spirit, in language, in hopes, in aims. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

The cross of Christ lies directly in our pathway, and must be lifted if we would follow Jesus. It is a perpetual reminder of Christ, our intercessor before God, and it points us to a nobler world. Through Christ we have constant communication with the Father. Through this open door we may view the glories of the celestial world, and may estimate the superiority of heavenly attractions as compared with earthly. Then with a heart all aglow with the love of Jesus, we may reveal to others what we have seen and learned.

In social intercourse, Christians have altogether too little to say in regard to the things that belong to the kingdom of God. Those who have an indwelling Saviour will have something to say of his love and grace. And “it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” The truth is often spoken from a theoretical knowledge, but he whose heart is all aglow with it, because he has realized its saving, uplifting power, will be much more successful in giving light to others than is he who only knows the truth theoretically. To him who has felt the sanctifying power of the grace of Christ in his own heart, the truth is a living principle, and he can speak with an assurance that carries conviction to the heart of the unbeliever. He teaches as Christ taught, of whom his hearers said, “Never man spake like this man.” John, in the assurance of a living experience, said: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Christ, through his Spirit, is working to draw men to himself; and we, the human agents, are to co-operate with Christ; it is his power that gives efficiency to our labors.

But there is a sad lack of personal union with Christ, and hence there is a lack of sympathy and co-operation with him in his work. Home missionary work is strangely neglected. How many young men and women, youth and children, are without hope and without God in the world! and yet church-members look on as indifferently as though there were no souls to save, none for whom they should have any special interest. These souls whom you have neglected to instruct, neglected to lead to the light, are regarded by Heaven with pity.

Our Redeemer is to see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; how is it with those who profess to be his followers? Will they be satisfied when they see the fruit of their labors? What are the members of the church doing, to be designated “laborers together with God”? Where do we see travail of soul? Where do we see the members of the church absorbed in religious themes, self-surrendered to the work and will of God? Where do we see Christians feeling their responsibility to make the church prosperous, a wide-awake, light-giving people? Where are those who do not stint or measure their loving labor for the Master? Who are striving to quell every dissension in the church, being peace-makers in Christ's name? Who are seeking to answer the prayer of Christ, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; ... I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me”? Could our Lord speak these words, so gracious, so full of meaning, of the churches in their present state of feeble love, of dissension and petty trial,—churches that are calling ministers from important work to settle their little manufactured difficulties, thus showing that they have no connection with God?—No. The members of the church must come into unity; and in order to do this, they must have less of self, and more of Jesus. They must learn of Christ. They must be meek and lowly of heart. Their selfish pride must die. Then their mountains of difficulty will be reduced to mole-hills. They will heed the exhortation of Paul, “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”

Jesus, your Redeemer, and all the holy angels are grieved at your hardness of heart. Jesus came to our world, and gave his own life to save these souls; and yet you who know the truth make so little effort to impart the blessings of his grace to those for whom he died. Such indifference and neglect of duty is an amazement to the angels. In the judgment you must meet the souls you have neglected.

We see large churches gathered in different localities. Their members have a knowledge of the truth; but they are content to hear and partake of the word of life themselves, and do not seek to impart light to those who are without. Because of these neglected opportunities, this abuse of privileges, they themselves are not growing “in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Thus the members of our churches are weak in faith, deficient in knowledge, and children in experience. They are not rooted and grounded in the truth. If they remain thus, the many delusions of the last days will surely deceive them; for they will have no spiritual eye-sight to discern truth from error.

The end is near! God calls upon the church to set in order the things that remain. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Workers together with God, you are empowered by the Lord to take others with you into the kingdom. You are to be God's living agents, channels of light to the world, and round about you are angels of heaven, with their commission from Christ to sustain, strengthen, and uphold you in working for the salvation of souls.

I appeal to the churches in every Conference: Stand out separate and distinct from the world,—in the world, but not of it,—reflecting the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, being pure, holy, and undefiled, and in faith carrying light into all the highways and by-ways of the earth. To his church God has committed the work of diffusing light and bearing the message of his love. Our work is not to condemn, not to denounce, but to beseech men to be reconciled to God. We are to encourage souls, to attract them, and thus win them to Jesus.

Brethren who labor in the ministry, pray as you never before prayed. “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” There is a readiness to talk, but not always to the purpose. In reclaiming the sinner, there will need to be earnest, heart-felt importuning of God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Christ is saying to his people, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.” The churches in every Conference should enlarge their field of labor. They should reach out farther and still farther, to adjoining cities and towns, carrying the light to thousands of souls who are hungering and thirsting, weeping and praying, for light. These poor souls now feel that they are shut up in darkness, and they long for light; and if each one who has the light would do his best to enlighten others, how many might be brought to a knowledge of the truth! If all the members of the church were imbued with the spirit of Jesus, and would go to work for kindred, friends, and neighbors, for all with whom they come in contact, what a work might be accomplished! Some would not accept their labors, but others would receive the light, and would with rejoicing enter the path that leads to everlasting life.

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»