Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8


Chapter 22—Centering Too Much in Battle Creek

South Lancaster, Massachusetts,

October 16, 1890

To the Managers of the Battle Creek Sanitarium

Dear Brethren,

While in Petoskey I had some conversation with your physician in chief in regard to establishing a home for orphan children at Battle Creek. I said that this was just what was needed among us as a people, and that in enterprises of this kind we were far behind other denominations. 8T 133.1

In my conversation I spoke of my fear that we were centering too many responsibilities in Battle Creek, and I am still of the same opinion. It is perilous to center so much in one locality. A large amount of means is being expended in this one place, while cities are neglected that will become more and more difficult to work. 8T 133.2

I have been looking over some of my writings, and I find that warnings on this point were given years ago. It is plainly stated that the buildings in Battle Creek should not be enlarged, that building should not be added to building to increase facilities there. We were instructed not to accumulate interests in that one place, but to enlarge our sphere of labor. There was danger that Battle Creek would become as Jerusalem of old—a powerful center. If we do not heed these warnings, the evils that ruined Jerusalem will come upon us. Pride, self-exaltation, neglect of the poor, and partiality to the wealthy—these were the sins of Jerusalem. Today when large interests are built up in one place, the workers are tempted to become lifted up in selfishness and pride. When they yield to this temptation they are not laborers together with God. Instead of seeking to increase our responsibilities in Battle Creek, we should bravely and willingly divide the responsibilities already there, distributing them to many places. 8T 133.3

We are “a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” 1 Corinthians 4:9. Our mission is the same as that which was announced by Christ, at the beginning of His ministry, to be His mission. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” He said, “because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19. 8T 134.1

We are to carry forward the work placed in our hands by the Master. He says: “If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” “The poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Isaiah 58:10, 11; Deuteronomy 15:11; Matthew 7:12. 8T 134.2

We shall be tempted to be covetous, to be avaricious, to cultivate an insatiable desire for more. If we yield to this temptation, it will bring upon us the same perils that fell upon ancient Jerusalem. We shall fail to know God and to represent Him in character. We need to watch ourselves closely lest we fall because of unbelief, as did the Jews. We are to work unselfishly. We are to feel a deep interest in the establishment and growth of other institutions besides those over which we have supervision. I sincerely wish that the sanitarium were miles away from Battle Creek. From the light given me of God, I know this would be better for its spirituality and usefulness. The college near Lincoln, Nebraska, will take a large number from Battle Creek, and this is as it should be. The light should shine forth from other places, as well as from Battle Creek. God designs that light shall shine forth from different cities and various localities. 8T 134.3

To center so much in one place is a mistake; it savors of selfishness. Battle Creek is receiving more than its share of advantages. Were the important interests established there divided and subdivided, strength would be given to other churches. We are to labor unselfishly in the Lord's great vineyard, dividing time, money, educational interests, and ministerial institutes in such a way that as large a number as possible shall reap the benefit. The ambition that leads men to center so many facilities in Battle Creek should be restricted, that other places may be blessed with the benefits that some have planned to center there. In centering so much in one place, a wrong education is given to the people. 8T 135.1

To plan largely for Battle Creek is not wise. The world is our field of labor, and the money expended in this one place would go far toward carrying forward successful aggressive work in other places. There are many cities in which the people need the gospel message. Instead of so many of our workers of talent being centered in Battle Creek, men of sanctified ability should be assigned to posts of activity in different localities. These men should have a living interest in many places, studying ways and means by which to advance the work. They are not to move in their own judgment, but are to blend together in the great work. From year to year, as the work strengthens in the place in which they are laboring, they are to educate and train workers, and send help to other places. 8T 135.2