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    Battle Creek and the Southern Field

    Norfolk Villa, Granville,

    July 24, 1895.

    To my Brethren in Responsible Positions in America:

    I am deeply concerned in regard to the disregard of warning and appeals that have been made by the Spirit of God through the humble instrument. Much time is devoted to large gatherings for the instruction of those who know the truth, when, if these very ones would with contrition of heart forsake their selfishness, and go earnestly, prayerfully to work to communicate light to those who are in spiritual darkness, they would receive strength far superior to anything they can obtain through spending so much money and labor for themselves. They have the benefits of the campmeetings and many other opportunities for instruction. If these do not accomplish the work for them, large, expensive institutes will not accomplish it. The time thus spent by those in attendance might better be employed in going into some of the dark, unworked fields, and proclaiming the truth to those who are ready to perish.SpM 13.1

    The money spent in enlarging the institutions in Battle Creek might far better be devoted to planting the truth in cities and places where it has not yet taken hold. Money has been entrusted to human agents, to be invested in the Lord's work, put out to the exchangers and increased with use. Again and again the men in positions of trust have had laid before them the necessity of the Lord's vineyard's being more equally worked. The vineyard is the world, every part of it is the Lord's, and it should receive due attention. No one locality is to swallow up every resource that can be obtained to enrich and magnify and multiply its facilities, while the largest portions of the field are left destitute. This policy is not inspired of God. The gracious calls of mercy are to be given to all parts of the world. God's field is the world....SpM 13.2

    In the parable of the good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite looked on the wretched man who had been robbed and wounded but it did not seem to them desirable for them to help the one who most needed help because he was helpless and forsaken. That priest and Levite represent many, many in Battle Creek.... The Lord has presented to me the fact that thousands of souls are longing for something better than they have. Many can be saved if the Southern field can have simply a small part of the means expended so lavishly in Battle Creek, to make things more convenient.... The Lord's heritage has been strangely neglected, and God will judge His people for this thing. Pride and the love of display are gratified by the accumulated advantages while new fields are left untouched. The rebuke of God is upon the managers for their partiality and selfish appropriation of His goods.SpM 13.3

    Something has been done in foreign missions, and something in home missions; but altogether too much territory has been left unworked. The work is too much centralized. The interests in Battle Creek are overgrown, and this means that other portions of the field are robbed of facilities which they should have had. The larger and still larger preparations, in the erection and enlargement of buildings, which have called together and hold so large a number in Battle Creek, are not in accordance with God's plan, but in direct contravention of His plan. It has been urged that there were great advantages in having so many institutions in close connection; that they could be a strength to one another, and could afford help to those seeking education and employment. This is according to human reasoning. It will be admitted that from a human point of view, many advantages are gained by crowding so many [responsibilities in Battle Creek; but the vision needs to be extended. These interests should be broken up into many] parts, in order that the work may start in cities which it will be necessary to make centers of interest. Buildings should be erected and responsibilities centered in many localities that are now robbed of vital, spiritual interest in order to swell the overplus already in Battle Creek. The Lord is not glorified by this management on the part of those who are in responsible positions. “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.” “For this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”SpM 13.4

    The salvation of the heathen has long been deemed a matter that should engage the interests of Christians; and it is no more than justice to bring light to their dark borders; but home missionary work is just as much needed. The heathen are brought to our very shores. Idolatrous ignorance is in the very shadow of our homes. Something is being done for the colored people, but next to nothing compared to others receive who have a knowledge of the truth, who have had opportunities innumerable, but who have not half appreciated their advantages. To those who know not the truth, let the love of Jesus be presented, and it will work like leaven for the transformation of character.SpM 14.1

    What are we doing for the Southern field? I have looked most anxiously to see if some plan would not be set in operation to redeem the sinful neglect of that field, but I see not a proposition or a resolution to do anything. Perhaps something has been planned that I have not seen. I hope so, and praise the Lord if it is so. But though for years our duty has been laid out in a most decided manner, yet the Southern field has been only touched with the tip ends of our fingers. I now feel deeply in earnest in again bringing before you this neglected portion of the Lord's vineyard. The matter is brought before me again and again. I have been awakened in the night season, and the command has come, “Write the things I have opened before you, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear.”SpM 14.2

    Men and women are sent to far-off lands, to labor at great expense, and often at the sacrifice of their lives for heathen savages; but here are heathen at our very doors. The nation of slaves who are treated as though they had no souls, but were under the control of their masters, were emancipated at immense cost of life on both sides, the North seeking to restrict, the South to perpetuate and extend slavery. If, after the war, the Northern people had made the South a real missionary field, if they had not left the negroes to ruin through poverty and neglect, thousands of souls would have been brought to Christ. But it was an unpromising field, and the Catholics have been more active in it than any other class.SpM 14.3

    Will our brethren explain what their course means? Will the men in charge of the work of God sense their neglect? Will the people in Battle Creek show how much zeal, how much true missionary spirit they have received? With the great privileges you have had to learn line upon line and precept upon precept. With precious outpouring of the Spirit of God, what lessons have you learned? How much self-denial will our institutions manifest in binding about their imaginary wants? Will they continue to spread themselves, and strive to obtain more and still more conveniences for their accommodation, while the means to be expended for the down-trodden colored race is so little and meager? Here are your neighbors, poor, beaten, oppressed: thousands of human beings suffering for want of educational advantages; many, so many who need to hear the gospel preached in its purity.SpM 15.1

    I appeal to families who understand the truth. What are you doing? You can be God's ministers, taking up the work in this neglected field that needs to be plowed and to be sowed with the gospel seed of truth. Who for Christ's sake will give themselves to this work? You could have had missionaries in this hard field many years ago. God has called upon you to go labor in His vineyard, but the most miserable, unpromising portions of the vineyard have been passed by. Human beings, who are the Lord's by creation and by redemption, have been left for wolves to devour, while you have lived at ease, eating from the abundant supply which God gave you to share with those in need.SpM 15.2

    In the past some attempts have been made to present the truth to the colored people, but those among the white people who claim to believe the truth have wanted to build a high partition between themselves and the colored race. We have one Saviour, who has died for the black man as well as for the white man, and those who possess the Spirit of Christ will have love and pity for all who know not the precious Saviour. They will labor to the utmost of their ability to wipe away the reproach of ignorance from white and black alike.SpM 15.3

    From the light God has given me, the blood of souls will surely be found upon the garments of those who, like the priest and Levite, are passing by on the other side. This is just what our people are doing. They have been eating of the large loaf, and left the suffering, distressed people of the Southern regions starving for education, starving for spiritual advantages. While feeding from a well supplied table, they have not allowed even the crumbs that fall from the table to be bestowed upon the colored people. By their action they have said, Am I my brother's keeper? Where are those who have had so much light, so much food, that they have lost their appetite, and do not appreciate the bread of life? These rich treasures, if imparted to others, would give life and hope and salvation to them.SpM 15.4

    It is not merely the white people in the Southern field that are to receive the message of truth. Methods and plans must be devised to reach the colored people. Divine illumination must come to them. This kind of work calls for laborers, and the duty rests upon our responsible men to set men to work in that field, and to sustain the work with a portion of the means supplied by tithes and offerings, from the believers in all parts of our world. The Bible, the precious Bible, is not to be chained to any one place. It is to go to all parts of our world; its sacred truth is to be everywhere studied.SpM 16.1

    You can not send laborers into the Southern field, and merely say to one, You may work there, or to another, You may work there. Facilities must be provided, and workmen sent who can plan for these states. I beseech you, brethren, do not take the work out of the hands of those who would work every chance they may have, to obtain means to work in the Southern field. It is not your privilege to grasp every title to dispose of as you see fit. God has been teaching me, and I will not rest, I dare not hold my peace. I urge you to supply the people of this long-neglected field with food out of your abundance.SpM 16.2

    God will not commend selfishness in your planning and managing. Do not act as though you feared some other one of his instrumentalities would have a few crumbs from God's table. Those who are struggling with all their might to do a work for the most depressed and discouraging class of people, need encouragement. If men or women have entrusted talents, and use these talents to advance the work of God, regarding their Lord's money as a sacred trust, to use to His glory, they are doing a work that God approves. Those who are converted in the South will work with their own families, with their relatives, with their friends, and so we may hope for increase from the seed sown. If you should send many laborers to the most destitute part of this vineyard, and yet tie their hands by neglecting to furnish them with necessary means, for any real work of uplifting, do you think this would please God. Are not the ways of the Lord equal? Shall Battle Creek be supplied with every facility, and thousands of dollars be spent in making things a little more convenient?SpM 16.3

    Your already abundant facilities in Battle Creek, your buildings, your large wages, will witness against you in that day when everyone shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The managers of the College and publishing house will not look with such proud satisfaction on their wide-spreading advantages, when God shall make inquiry in regard to the souls they have left without regard, without labor, without light. Those whom you might have helped to receive the truth, would in their turn have labored to help others that are in darkness. Do not continue to dishonor God by your indolence, your neglect, by passing by on the other side.SpM 16.4

    The colored people might have been helped with much better prospects of success years ago than now. The work is now ten-fold harder than it would have been then. But do not, I beseech you, look upon the hard field, groan a little, set two or three at work in one locality, and a few in another, providing them only enough for the bare necessities of life. Those who labor in the Southern field will have to stand amid the most discouraging, hopeless poverty, and they need encouragement and help. They see the needs of the work, and from the abundant supply in Battle Creek means should be furnished them to supply the people with advantages they can not otherwise obtain.SpM 17.1

    Men of ability are willing to work for a meager sum, two or three dollars a week, to sustain their families. They have souls as precious as those of the men who, because of their selfishness and covetousness, have received thirty dollars a week. Will those who have an abundance put their hands into their pockets, and out of their plentiful supply impart something to furnish their neighbors with facilities? Will they make provision to help men to do the work they can do for a few dollars a week? Most earnest work should have been done many years ago. There might have been an altogether different presentation from what we now see.SpM 17.2

    God's means are not to be abundantly bestowed on a few privileged ones, so that they shall become exalted in pride, spreading themselves like a green bay tree, while the most needy, suffering ones are left without succor. Let not those who are in positions of responsibility rest satisfied with saying to the needy, Be ye warmed and clothed and fed, doing nothing to relieve the temporal and spiritual necessities of the suffering ones.SpM 17.3

    The reproach of indolence will never be wiped away from the church till every one who believes the truth shall be willing to labor as did our self-sacrificing Redeemer. Christ can not pronounce those good and faithful servants who have had the greatest advantages, the richest blessings, and yet have allowed a nation of helpless, dependent beings to remain degraded and unenlightened. Brethren, when you seek to help the ones who need education, that they may read the Word of God, when you say to every man, from the least to the greatest, Know the Lord, know Him for yourself, then your reproach will be wiped away. The Spirit of God will bless the means employed, even now....SpM 17.4

    Suppose that our people should practice the self-denial and love for souls that Jesus manifested while here on earth. Suppose that they should make the experiment of bearing much fruit to the glory of God, instead of studying how to absorb all the profits of the institutions (which were established in poverty), in enlarging and enriching themselves. Suppose that they should regard these institutions as God's instrumentalities, and provide facilities whereby destitute places should be provided with meeting places, and, in a limited degree, with the advantages that are so abundant in Battle Creek. Would not such a course be attended by the blessing of God, whose means they are handling? Would it not be far safer to experiment in right doing than in selfishly grasping so much where there is no real need, which means robbery and want to other fields.SpM 17.5

    The colored people have been neglected because the vexed question of how to build a wall of distinction between the whites and the blacks has been agitated. Some have thought it best to reach the white people first, for if we should labor for the colored people, we could do nothing for the white population. This is not the right position to assume. Christ's followers are to learn all about the woes of the poor in their immediate vicinity, and in their own country. The poor, friendless. Those who have a dark, disagreeable life are the very ones we should bid to hope because Christ is their Saviour. God has jewels in the rough, and his true followers will find them.SpM 18.1

    All who possess the Spirit of Christ will have a tender, sympathetic heart, and an open, generous hand. Nothing can be really selfish that has Christ for its absorbing object. True faith works by love, and purifies the soul from all moral defilement. It is a holy faith, superior to sensual delights. It is a power enabling the soul to apply itself resolutely to irksome tasks and self-sacrifice for the Master's sake.SpM 18.2

    Those who press close to the bleeding side of Christ will have the Spirit of Christ, and a nature that will be quickly responsive to his call. They will work to relieve the necessities of suffering humanity, as Christ worked before the world fallen, the worlds unfallen, and all the heavenly hosts, representing the way and works of God. In the life of Christ we see what a Christian can do in relieving distress, ministering to both physical and spiritual wants. Among the colored people, many, even of those who profess to be Christians, are sadly ignorant, not only of Bible doctrines, but of Christian principles. Their religion is mingled with earthliness and sensuality. Justice, mercy, and the Love of God, demand that those who have learned of Christ shall impart to others, the very ones in the greatest need. The light is to shine forth amid the corruptions that will be found in the Southern field.SpM 18.3

    It is not ordained ministers that are required for most of the labor in this field. Another minister will be just as effectual. Those who work here should have a thorough knowledge of the condition of the field. An occasional visit from a minister will accomplish but little unless there are those who can follow up and continue the work. Missionaries are needed through whom God can work in His own appointed way, according to their several ability. Missionaries are needed who are full of tender sympathy, who with hearts softened and subdued by the love of God, can talk and pray with the people, showing an interest in their welfare, and obtaining a knowledge of their home life and their religious life.SpM 18.4

    There is need of shepherds who, under the direction of the Chief Shepherd, will visit and present the truth in the simplicity of Christ. This means physical discomfort, and the sacrifice of ease. It means that the workers are to represent the Great Shepherd, leaving ninety and nine, and seeking for the stray sheep and lambs. It means a tender solicitude for the erring, the forbearance of Christ, a divine compassion, because the human agent is a partaker of the divine nature. It means an ear that can listen to heart-breaking recitals of wrongs, of degradation, of falling under temptation, of despair and misery. This kind of work means self-sacrifice. Is this why so little has been done for the negro race?SpM 18.5

    E. G. White

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