Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7


Chapter 57—Our Aged Pioneer Workers

To the aged pioneer laborers who have been connected with the work of the third angel's message almost from its beginning, whose experiences in it dates nearly from the passing of the time in 1844, the Lord says: “Your help is needed. Do not take upon yourselves loads that others who are younger can carry. It is your duty to be careful in your habits of life. You are to be wise in the use of your physical, mental, and spiritual strength. You who have passed through so many and such varied experiences are to do all that it is possible for you to do to preserve your powers, that you may labor for the Lord as long as He permits you to stand in your lot and place to help to advance His work.” 7T 286.1

With John, these burden bearers can say: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 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.... This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:1-7. 7T 286.2

The cause needs the help of the old hands, the aged workers, who have had years of experience in the cause of God; who have watched the development and the progress of the message in its various lines; who have seen many go into fanaticism, cherishing the delusion of false theories, resisting all the efforts made to let the light of truth reveal the superstitions that were coming in to confuse minds and to make of none effect the message which in these last days must be given in its purity to God's remnant people. 7T 286.3

Many of the tried servants of God have fallen asleep in Jesus. Let the help of those who are left alive to this day be appreciated. Let their testimony be valued. The good hand of the Lord has been with these faithful workers. He will uphold them by His strong arm, saying: “Lean on Me. I will be your strength and your exceeding great reward.” Those who were in the message at its beginning, who fought bravely when the battle went hard, must not lose their hold now. 7T 287.1

The most tender interest should be cherished toward those whose life interest is bound up with the work of God. Notwithstanding their many infirmities, these workers still possess talents that qualify them to stand in their lot and place. God desires them to occupy leading positions in His work. They have stood faithful amidst storm and trial, and are among our most valuable counselors. How thankful we should be that they can still use their gifts in the Lord's service! 7T 287.2

Let not the fact be lost sight of that in the past these earnest wrestlers sacrificed everything to advance the work. The fact that they have grown old and gray in the service of God is no reason why they should cease to exert an influence superior to the influence of men who have far less knowledge of the work and far less experience in divine things. Though worn and unable to bear the heavier burdens that younger men can and should carry, their value as counselors is of the highest order. They have made mistakes, but they have learned wisdom from their failures; they have learned to avoid errors and dangers, and are they not then competent to give wise counsel? They have borne test and trial, and, though they have lost some of their vigor, they are not to be pushed aside by less-experienced workers, who know very little about the labor and self-sacrifice of these pioneers. The Lord does not thus lay them aside. He gives them special grace and knowledge. 7T 287.3

When John was old and gray-headed, he was given a message to bear to the persecuted churches. The Jews made several attempts to take his life, but the Lord said: “Let him live. I who created him will be with him and will guard him.” Constantly this aged disciple bore testimony for the Master. In beautiful language, with a musical voice, speaking in a way that impressed the hearts of all who heard him, he told of the words and works of Christ. He was sent as an exile to Patmos, but Christ visited him in his exile, and communicated to him the grand truths found in the Revelation. 7T 288.1

As those who have spent their lives in the service of God draw near the close of their earthly history, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experiences they have had in connection with His work. The record of His wonderful dealings with His people, of His great goodness in delivering them from trial, should be repeated to those newly come to the faith. The trials also that have been brought on the servants of God by the apostasy of some once united with them in labor, and the working of the Holy Spirit to make of none effect the falsehoods told against those who were holding the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end, should be related. 7T 288.2

The old standard-bearers who are still living should not be put in hard places. Those who served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty and remained faithful to the truth when our numbers were small, are ever to be honored and respected. I am instructed to say: Let every believer respect the aged pioneers who have borne trials and hardships and many privations. They are God's workmen and have acted a prominent part in the building up of His Work. 7T 289.1

The Lord desires the younger laborers to gain wisdom, strength, and maturity by association with the aged laborers who have been spared to the cause. Let the younger men realize that, in having such laborers among them, they are highly favored. Let them show great respect for the men of gray hairs, who have had long experience in the development of the work. Let them give them an honored place in their councils. God desires those who have come into the truth in later years to take heed to these words. 7T 289.2

May the Lord bless and sustain our old and tried laborers. May He help them to be wise in regard to the preservation of their physical, mental, and spiritual powers. I have been instructed by the Lord to say to those who bore their testimony in the early days of the message: “God has endowed you with the power of reason, and He desires you to understand and obey the laws that have to do with the health of the being. Do not be imprudent. Do not overwork. Take time to rest. God desires you to stand in your lot and place, doing your part to save men and women from being swept downward by the mighty current of evil. He desires you to keep the armor on till He bids you lay it off. Not long hence you will receive your reward.” 7T 289.3