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Manuscript Releases, vol. 4 [Nos. 210-259] - Contents
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    MR No. 246—Theology of Missions

    There are some things I wish to address particularly to yourself and to your wife. You both need to be guarded; you both have strong wills, and are not wanting in self-confidence...4MR 388.1

    In your association with others, there is danger of you both being over-bearing and exacting. You will also be in danger of this in your own married life, unless you daily humble your hearts before God, and individually feel the great need of learning in the school of Christ the lesson of meekness, humility, and lowliness of heart.4MR 388.2

    Your ways seem to be right in your own eyes, when they may be far from right. God would have you less self-sufficient.... Your ideas and plans should be closely and critically examined, for you are in danger of circumscribing the work, of placing your own mold upon it, and of using your narrow ideas and cheap plans, which generally prove to be the dearest in the end. You belittle the work by so doing. While it is well to exercise economy, let the work of God ever stand in its elevated noble dignity.4MR 388.3

    As you are to begin work in a new mission, be careful that your defects are not exalted as virtues, and thus retard the work of God. It is testing truths that we are bringing before the people, and in every movement these truths should be elevated to stand in moral beauty before those for whom we labor.... Do not cheapen the work of God. Let it stand forth as from God. Let it bear no human impress, but the impress of the divine. Self is to be lost sight of in Jesus. It is not safe to allow your own ideas and judgment, your set ways, your peculiar traits of character, to be a controlling power. There is great need of breadth in your calculations in order to place the work high in all your plans, proportionate to its importance....4MR 388.4

    There has been much lost through following the mistaken ideas of our good brethren whose plans were narrow, and they lowered the work to their peculiar ways and ideas so that the higher classes were not reached. The appearance of the work impressed the minds of unbelievers as being of very little worth—some stray offshoot of religious theory, that was beneath their attention. Much has been lost for want of wise methods of labor. Every effort should be made to give dignity and character to the work. Special efforts should be made to secure the good will of men in responsible positions, without sacrificing one principle of truth or righteousness, but by sacrificing our own ways and manner of approaching the people.4MR 389.1

    Much more would be effected by using more tact and discretion in the presentation of the truth. Through the neglect of this many have a misconception of our faith and of our doctrine which they would not have if the very first impression made upon their minds had been more favorable. It is our duty to get as close to the people as we can....4MR 389.2

    The workers in this cause should not feel that the only way they can do is to go at the people pointedly, with all subjects of truth and doctrine as held by Seventh-day Adventists, for this would close their ears at the very onset....4MR 389.3

    God would have you be as lambs among wolves, as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. You cannot do this and follow your own ideas and your own plans. You must modify your method of labor. You need not feel that all the truth is to be spoken to unbelievers on any and every occasion. You should plan carefully what to say and what to leave unsaid. This is not practicing deception; it is to work as Paul worked. He says, “Being crafty, I caught you with guile.”...You must vary your labor, and not have one way which you think must be followed at all times and in all places. Your ways may seem to you a success, but if you used more tact, more of the wisdom of the serpent, you would have seen much more real results of your work....4MR 389.4

    A great and solemn work is before us—to reach the people where they are. Do not feel it your bounden duty the first thing to tell the people, “We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the non-immortality of the soul,” and thus erect most formidable barriers between you and those you wish to reach. But speak to them, as you may have opportunity, upon points of doctrine wherein you can agree, and dwell on practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence, and then there will be time enough for the doctrines. Let the hard iron heart be subdued, the soil prepared, and then lead them along cautiously, presenting in love the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.4MR 390.1

    It requires great wisdom to reach ministers and noblemen. Why should these be neglected or passed by, as they certainly have been by our people? These classes are responsible to God just in proportion to the capital of talents intrusted to them. Should there not be greater study and much more humble prayer for wisdom to reach these classes? Where much is given, much will be required. Then should there not be wisdom and tact used to gain these souls to Jesus Christ, who will be, if converted, polished instruments in the hands of the Lord to reach others? The Lord's help we must have to know how to undertake His work in a skillful manner. Self must not become prominent.4MR 390.2

    God has a work to be done that the workers have not yet fully comprehended. Their message is to go to ministers and to worldly wise men, for these are to be tested with the light of truth. It is to be set forth before the learned ones of this world judiciously and in its native dignity. There must be most earnest seeking of God, most thorough study; for the mental powers will be taxed to the uttermost to lay plans according to the Lord's order that shall place His work on the higher and more elevated platform where it should ever have stood. Men's little ideas and narrow plans have bound about the work....4MR 391.1

    After the most earnest efforts have been made to bring the truth before those whom God has intrusted with large responsibilities, be not discouraged if they reject it. They did the same in the days of Christ. Be sure to keep up the dignity of the work by well-ordered plans and a goodly conversation. Do not think that you have elevated the standard too high....4MR 391.2

    You do not know yourself, and you need daily to be imbued with the Spirit of Jesus, else you will, in your dealing with your brethren and with unbelievers, become small, narrow, and penurious, and turn souls in disgust from the truth. If you cultivate these peculiar traits of character you will give deformity to the work. You must grow out of this narrowness; you must have breadth; you must get out of this dealing, for it belittles you in every way....4MR 391.3

    We feel, dear Brother and Sister ________, the tenderest sympathy for you both, and for your little ones as you enter this new field. We feel deeply for you in your separation from friends and acquaintances, your brethren and sisters whom you love. But we know this message is a worldwide message, and we are and must continue to be laborers together with God. I know the Lord loves you and wants to bring you into more close relationship with Himself. Only seek for the mold of God to be upon you, and you will constantly improve in every way until your labors will bear the full approval of Heaven. But never for a moment entertain the idea that you have no improvements to make; for you have many.... You are not one who is constantly learning, improving, studying how to adjust yourself to circumstances. You have not adapted yourself to the situation of things, but have been inclined to take an independent course, to follow your own plans, in the place of blending with the workers....4MR 392.1

    God will be with you if you will be with Him. Take care that you do not leave a wrong impression upon minds in reference to yourself.... We need the cloudy pillar to lead us constantly. We have the assurance of the presence of God; you have it—“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:20.] God bless you.—Letter 12, 1887, pp. 1-4, 6, 7, 11, 12. (To Brother Boyd: “Broader View of the Work Necessary,” June 25, 1887.)4MR 392.2

    You have not all the same stamp of character, and each will be inclined to think that the work must be molded according to his views. Unconsciously to yourselves, this spirit will be cherished, and you will seek to introduce your own methods. The workers should first obtain the grace of Christ, so they will be enabled to sink self out of sight; then there will be unity, even among a diversity of dispositions.4MR 392.3

    Before any of you went to Africa as missionaries, it was shown me that there would be difficulty in your labors, not necessarily because the workers were so differently constituted but because of each esteeming themselves above their brethren. The brethren varied so evidently in organization and in their views of the work, that each instead of modifying his own strong traits of character, would be in danger of drawing away from the others, and this drawing apart would leave an influence among the new converts that would retard the work and dishonor God.4MR 393.1

    You are indeed laborers together with God, and will you seek most earnestly to answer the prayer of Christ that you may be one as He is one with the Father? Let there be no dissensions among you. When each wants to have his own way, disparaging the methods of others, the tendency is to bring great confusion into the work. Each becomes discouraged, and this leads to the discouragement of others who are quick to discern any variance. This is a bad example to set, especially in a new field, where everything should move like well regulated machinery, the work of one matching the work of another, thus manifesting that you are God's instruments.4MR 393.2

    If you fully realize the importance of God's work, you will not work in opposition one to another....4MR 393.3

    Each worker is to use his God-given ability to the utmost for the uplifting of Christ's kingdom on earth. We each have an individuality in manner and bearing, and this is as it should be; but this need not prevent our working together in perfect harmony.... You may have diverse temperaments, and yet be laborers together with God, all working in harmony, and when all your ability is put into the work, you will accomplish the best results.... The Lord's resources are unlimited; we are only instruments in His hands, and great things can be accomplished through His name....4MR 393.4

    If one of your number decides that he cannot cooperate with his brethren, and has no desire to work because of differences of opinion, the course to be pursued is without a question. Humble yourselves before God, and resort to prayer, for you cannot and must not attempt to work at variance....4MR 394.1

    God has a great work to be accomplished in _________, and no plans must be laid without the aid of His infinite wisdom. After your plans of labor have been talked over together, mingled with earnest prayer, work, work for Christ. Be not intimidated by apparent difficulties which threaten to obstruct your pathway. There is a right way to work, and God will direct you therein. If you labor in perfect unity, with unselfish interest, and brotherly love, angels of God will be with you. This is God's work, and He will make the rough places smooth, He will prepare the way before you. The work which is to be done in foreign countries can never be done by mortal man unaided by divine Wisdom....4MR 394.2

    The Lord has revealed many things to me concerning the manner in which the work should be carried forward in new fields, and has shown me that if a certain course were pursued, it would narrow the work and cause it to be marred. Perfect harmony can exist only through the abundant grace of Christ.—Letter 4, 1890, pp. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9. (To “Dear Brethren Now Laboring as Missionaries in the Field of Africa, March, 1890.)4MR 394.3

    I feel deeply in regard to the missionary work in South Africa. I do hope you will not look to man, nor trust in men, but look to God and trust in God. We may expect large things, even the deep movings of the Spirit of God, if we have faith in His promises. Our greatest sin is unbelief in God. Has He not shown us how precious we are in His sight, and with what value He regards our souls, by giving us Jesus? We are required to unite our souls with Jesus Christ that we may have no tame, commonplace experience.—Letter 92, 1896, p. 2. (To “Dear Brother A. T. Robinson,” September 2, 1896.)4MR 395.1

    Those extra buildings in Cape Town might far better have been plants in other localities. The erection of building after building in Battle Creek has not been after the order of God. Plants should have been made in regions beyond. The same mistake has been made in Africa as in Battle Creek. We ask you to keep your eyes open, and see if there are no ways to reach the souls who are not of our faith. Do something in this line.—Letter 79, 1899, p. 3. (To “Dear Brother W. S. Hyatt,” May 3, 1899.)4MR 395.2

    I will say to my brethren in South Africa, There has not been that wisdom and keen foresight used in dealing with the Wessels family that there should have been.... True, they have not been free from mistakes and errors, but others, who have had much greater light, have revealed that they also erred. Have you given these brethren encouragement and wise, judicious help, or have you closed every avenue whereby they might be helped to be laborers together with God? Have you left them to drift whichever way they would? ... Have you not crowded out their influence, that they might have no part or lot with you? Much more might have been done than has been done to bind them up with the work.... Lines of work could have been entered into that would have called the young men of the Wessels family to act a part in God's cause. Then they would not have drifted away into the world....4MR 395.3

    It is a sad fact that not all the men who have come from America as workers have been a help and blessing.... They were not living in connection with God.... There are those who have not exercised wisdom in dealing with human minds, who have been too indifferent to reach out a hand warm with sympathy and earnest, intelligent love to help the ones Satan has tried to secure for His service. Circumstances consign every man, whatever his position, to a practical test; and the actual results of this test are offered to the world for inspection....4MR 396.1

    It grieves my heart to think of what might have been if the ones who enter the missionary field had been humble, devoted, consecrated workers.4MR 396.2

    Those who enter any portion of the Lord's vast vineyard should understand that their supposed acquired abilities will not give them success in their work. A too great recognition of self will place one where he will be alone, terribly alone, without cooperation of his brethren, and without the cooperation of heavenly agencies.4MR 396.3

    Some of the workers ... have been hindrances and not helps. The day of God will reveal the results of their work. They made confusion because they were not converted. Self was working without the power of the pure, true agency. Had these workers been sanctified, purified, and cleansed from all selfishness and self-superiority, had they had a genuine experience in the things of God, had their example and influence been right, Africa would not be what it is today. The grand, far-reaching influence of the truth would have embraced many other territories....4MR 396.4

    If, in Africa, there had been consecrated workers to push their way into unworked fields, with the full cooperation of the men who are bearing responsibilities, the influence of this work would have added large numbers to the Lord's kingdom. But the same error has been committed in Africa that was committed in Battle Creek—a center was made in one place at a large outlay of means, while other portions of the Lord's vineyard which should have been worked were neglected. God will use in His work humble men who do not think themselves so useful that they trust to their own judgment and efficiency.4MR 397.1

    In Africa there were those who because of their humility were supposed to be unable to do much. Christ worked with these men. God gave them wisdom. But supposedly wiser men bound about the work, and gave little encouragement for it to advance.... Had the work been done that needed to be done, men of talent would have come to a knowledge of the truth, men who could have translated our books into different languages. Every dollar expended in America in adding building to building was needed in the fields that might have been entered but were not because many of the workers sent to Africa were ... unable to take in the situation. They were not willing to deny self, lift the cross, and follow where Jesus led the way.—Letter 183, 1899, pp. 3, 5, 10-12. (To “Dear Brother W. S. Hyatt,” November 9, 1899.)4MR 397.2

    Let those who select the missionaries make close investigation and see if they have consecrated themselves body, soul and spirit to God, to preserve their powers for the work that is suffering to be done. Men and women who have not settled purpose, who are not consecrated to the work, should not be sent at great expense to labor in other fields.—Manuscript 152, 1899, 1. (“The Temple of God Must Be Holy,” typed October 31, 1899.)4MR 398.1

    It is a solemn, serious matter to select missionaries for foreign countries. The men whom God will accept for this work must be as true as steel to principle. They must be men who are emptied of self, men who give evidence that they are wearing Christ's yoke and manifesting His meekness and lowliness of heart.4MR 398.2

    The very best talent is required in such fields as Africa and Australia. We have to work in and through Christ, and in some places with the consent of the corrupt churches, although we cannot respect their claims, wherever the church is managed by the state.4MR 398.3

    We have to use wisdom in representing the truth; our speech must be tempered, else we cut ourselves off from gaining access to those who need help. The wisdom of angelic agencies must be imparted to human instrumentalities, else the door will be closed to the message the people need. “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”...4MR 398.4

    The Word of God is to be lived as well as preached. It is to be brought into every phase of the Christian work done in this world. The men God has appointed to do His work must be emptied of self. Let Jesus in. Open the door of the heart to the heavenly Guest. Let no man be looked up to as God. When those who come nigh [to] God in service are consecrated, cleansed, and purified, approaching nearer and still nearer the divine benevolence, they can voice the commission of God, and be respected....4MR 399.1

    God designs that men shall be drawn constantly upward by the strong moral attraction of that which is above. Had the workers in Africa remembered this, they would have done a great work by their God-fearing, unselfish attitude. Those in Africa would have been inspired to use their physical and mental capabilities for God. The work would have gone forward among the Dutch and other languages. Publications containing the truth would have been circulated everywhere. Ministers and rulers would have been converted to the truth.... Those who work in the South African field must understand the bearing of the situation. Their connection with their African brethren is a reciprocal one. [It should be noted that while principles here enunciated would apply in all relationships between overseas workers and national workers and believers, Ellen White in this instance is speaking of the inter-relationships between the early missionaries sent from America and the Dutch and English peoples residing in South Africa.] There are men of talent in Africa, and if the workers from America knew how to ... recognize the ability and talent possessed by their African brethren, much more good would be done. Those who love God and obey His word are to be closely united. They are to work together, using their talents in various ways....4MR 399.2

    Those in Africa who possessed capabilities should have been united with their American brethren. If the brethren and sisters from America had united with the African believers, songs of joy would have been heard among the heavenly angels, recognizing the human relationship as a union with God. Could the curtain have been rolled back, we would have seen heavenly angels all prepared to cooperate with human intelligence for the advancement of the work.—Letter 187, 1899, pp. 3-6. (To “Dear Brother S. N. Haskell,” November 16, 1899.)4MR 400.1

    The Lord has a great work to be done. Changes are continually taking place. In our association with those of different nationality, education, and experience we shall find that it is a life and death struggle to bear forward the gospel in all its purity.... Paul wrote to Timothy, his son in the gospel, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God, who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our own works, but according to His purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.”—Manuscript 31, 1900, 2, 5. (Diary, typed June 18, 1900.)4MR 400.2

    It is safer to educate students at home than to send them to America to receive an education; for in America they see and hear much that does them no good, which they would not see and hear were they to remain in their own country. Too many of the methods and habits and fashions have been transported from America to _____, and the result is not favorable. The very best teachers should be sent from America to foreign countries to educate the young.—Letter 188, 1899, p. 5. (To “Dear Brother and Sister S. N. Haskell,” November 13, 1899.)4MR 400.3

    Released May 14, 1970.

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