Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen White: Woman of Vision, Page 397

Chapter 27—The Battle Creek Sanitarium Fire

If the telegram that reached Elmshaven Tuesday morning, February 18, 1902, had said that the Review and Herald Publishing House had been destroyed by fire, Ellen White would not have been surprised. Five months earlier she had written to its managers a message that was read to the board:

“I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by fire” (Letter 138, 1901; Testimonies for the Church, 8:91]).

But the message that came that rainy morning was that the two main sanitarium buildings in Battle Creek had just burned to the ground. Mrs. White reached for her pen and somewhat in agony noted:

I would at this time speak words of wisdom, but what can I say? We are afflicted with those whose life interests are bound up in this institution. Let us pray that this calamity shall work together for good to those who must feel it very deeply. We can indeed weep with those who weep (Manuscript 76, 1903).

Why was it, she was led to ask, that this institution, which had been such a great means for good, should suffer such loss? As her pen traced the words, page after page, she wrote:

I am instructed to say, Let no one attempt to give a reason for the burning of the institution that we have so highly appreciated. Let no one attempt to say why this calamity was permitted to come. Let everyone examine his own course of action. Let everyone ask himself whether he is meeting the standard that God has placed before him.... Let no one try to explain this mysterious providence. Let us thank God that there was not a great loss of life. In this we see God's merciful hand (Ibid.).

Anxiously the staff at Elmshaven waited for word presenting in detail just what had happened. This in some larger features came in the West Coast newspapers and then in more detail in letters and in the next issue of the Review and Herald.

It was a winter night, with snow quite deep on the ground. The sanitarium

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