Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2


Chapter 49—Duty to Orphans

Dear Brother and Sister D,

Your late visit and conversation with us have suggested many thoughts, of which I cannot forbear placing a few upon paper. I was very sorry that E had not carried himself correctly at all times; yet, when you consider, you cannot expect perfection in youth at his age. Children have faults, and they need a great deal of patient instruction. 2T 327.2

That he should have feelings not always correct is no more than can be expected of a boy of his age. You must remember that he has no father or mother, no one to whom he can confide his feelings, his sorrows, and his temptations. Every person feels that he must have some sympathizer. This boy has been tossed about here and there, from pillar to post, and he may have many errors, many careless ways, with considerable independence, and he may lack reverence. But he is quite enterprising, and with right instruction and kind treatment, I have the fullest confidence that he would not disappoint our hopes, but would fully repay all the labor expended on him. Considering his disadvantages, I think he is a very good boy. 2T 328.1

When we entreated you to take him we did it because we fully believed it was your duty and that in doing so you would be blessed. We did not expect that you would do this merely to be benefited by the help that you would receive from the boy, but to benefit him, to do a duty to the orphan—a duty which every true Christian should be seeking and anxiously watching to perform; a duty, a sacrificing duty, which we believed it would do you good to take up, if you did it cheerfully, with a view to being the instrument in the hands of God of saving a soul from the snares of Satan, of saving a son whose father devoted his precious life to pointing souls to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. 2T 328.2

From what was shown me, Sabbathkeeping Adventists have but a feeble sense of how large a place the world and selfishness hold in their hearts. If you have a desire to do good and glorify God, there are many ways in which you can do it. But you have not felt that this was the result of true religion. This is the fruit which every good tree will produce. You have not felt that it was required of you to be interested in others, to make their cases your own, and to manifest an unselfish interest for the very ones who stand most in need of help. You have not reached out to help the most needy, the most helpless. Had you children of your own to call into exercise care, affection, and love, you would not be so much shut up to yourselves and to your own interests. If those who have no children, and whom God has made stewards of means, would expand their hearts to care for children who need love, care, and affection, and assistance with this world's goods, they would be far happier than they are today. So long as youth who have not a father's pitying care nor a mother's tender love are exposed to the corrupting influences of these last days, it is somebody's duty to supply the place of father and mother to some of them. Learn to give them love, affection, and sympathy. All who profess to have a Father in heaven, who they hope will care for them and finally take them to the home He has prepared for them, ought to feel a solemn obligation resting upon them to be friends to the friendless and fathers to the orphans, to aid the widows, and be of some practical use in this world by benefiting humanity. Many have not viewed these things in a right light. If they live merely for themselves, they will have no greater strength than this calls for. 2T 328.3

The youth who are growing up among us are not cared for as they should be. Some of the brethren must have duties which they are not willing and ready to see and perform. The fear of inconveniencing themselves is a sufficient excuse for many. The day of God will reveal unfulfilled duties—souls lost because the selfish would not take pains to interest themselves in their behalf. 2T 329.1

I was shown that should professed Christians cultivate more affection and kind regard in caring for others, they would be repaid fourfold. God marks. He knows for what object we live, and whether our living is put to the very best account for poor, fallen humanity, or whether our eyes are eclipsed to everything but our own interest, and to everyone but our own poor selves. I entreat you, in behalf of Christ, in behalf of your own souls, and in behalf of the youth, not to think so lightly of this matter as many do. It is a grave, a serious thing, and affects your interest in the kingdom of Christ, inasmuch as the salvation of precious souls is involved. Why is it not a duty which God enjoins upon you who are able, to expend something for the benefit of the homeless, even though they may be ignorant and undisciplined? Shall you study to labor only in the direction where you will receive the most selfish pleasure and profit? It is not meet for you to neglect the divine favor that Heaven offers you if you will care for those who need your care, and thus let God knock in vain at your door. He stands there in the person of the poor, the homeless orphans, and the afflicted widows, who need love, sympathy, affection, and encouragement. If you do it not unto one of these, you would not do it unto Christ were He upon the earth. 2T 329.2

Call to mind your former wretchedness, your spiritual blindness, and the darkness which enshrouded you before Christ, a tender, loving Saviour, came to your aid and reached you where you were. If you let these seasons pass without giving tangible proofs of your gratitude for this wonderful and amazing love which a compassionate Saviour exercised toward you, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, there is reason to fear that still greater darkness and misery will come upon you. Now is your sowing time. You will reap that which you sow. Avail yourselves while you may of every privilege of doing good. These privileges improved are as a passing shower, which will water and revive you. Lay hold of every opportunity within your reach of doing good. Idle hands will reap a small harvest. For what do older persons live but to care for the young and help the helpless? God has committed them to us who are older and have experience, and He will call us to account if our duties in this direction are neglected. What though our labor may not be appreciated! what though it prove a failure many times, and a success but once! This once will outweigh all the discouragements previously borne. 2T 330.1

But few have a true sense of what is comprised in the word Christian. It is to be Christlike, to do others good, to be divested of all selfishness, and to have our lives marked with acts of disinterested benevolence. Our Redeemer throws souls into the arms of the church, for them to care for unselfishly and train for heaven, and thus be co-workers with Him. But the church too often thrusts them away, upon the devil's battlefield. One member will say, “It is not my duty,” and then bring up some trifling excuse. “Well,” says another, “neither is it my duty;” and finally it is nobody's duty, and the soul is left uncared for to perish. It is the duty of every Christian to engage in this self-denying, self-sacrificing enterprise. Cannot God return into their granaries and increase their flocks, so that instead of loss there shall be increase? “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” 2T 331.1

But every man's work is to be tested, and brought into judgment, and he be rewarded as his works have been. “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty.” “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” Read the next verse, and notice the rich reward promised to those who do this. “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” Here is an abundantly precious promise for all who will interest themselves in the cases of those who need help. How can God come in and bless and prosper those who have no special care for anyone except themselves, and who do not use that which He has entrusted to them, to glorify His name on the earth? 2T 331.2

Sister Hannah More is dead, and died a martyr to the selfishness of a people who profess to be seeking for glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. Exiled from believers during the past cold winter, this self-sacrificing missionary died because no heart was bountiful enough to receive her. I blame no one. I am not judge. But when the Judge of all the earth shall make investigation, somebody will be found to blame. We are all narrowed up and consumed in our own selfishness. May God tear away this cursed covering and give us bowels of mercy, hearts of flesh, tenderness and compassion, is my prayer, offered from an oppressed, anguished soul. I am sure that a work must be done for us or we shall be found wanting in the day of God. 2T 332.1

In regard to E, do not, I entreat of you, forget that he is a child, with only a child's experience. Do not measure him, a poor, weak, feeble boy, with yourselves and expect of him accordingly. I fully believe that it is in your power to do the right thing by this orphan. You can present inducements to him so that he will not feel that his task is cheerless, unrelieved by a ray of encouragement. You, my brother and sister, can enjoy yourselves in each other's confidence, you can sympathize with each other, interest and amuse each other, and tell your trials and burdens to each other. You have something to cheer you, while he is alone. He is a thinking boy, but has no one to confide in or to give him a cheering word amid his discouragements and severe trials, which I know he has as well as those more advanced in years. 2T 332.2

If you shut yourselves up to each other, it is selfish love, unattended with Heaven's blessing. I have strong hope that you will love the orphan for Christ's sake, that you will feel that your possessions are but worthless unless employed in doing good. Do good; be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come that you may lay hold on eternal life. None will reap the reward of everlasting life but the self-sacrificing. A dying father and mother left their jewels to the care of the church to be instructed in the things of God and fitted for heaven. When these parents shall look about for their dear ones, and one is found missing because of neglect, what will the church answer? It is in a great degree responsible for the salvation of these orphan children. 2T 333.1

In all probability you have failed to gain the boy's confidence and affection by not giving him more tangible proofs of your love by holding out some inducements. If you could not expend money you could at least in some way encourage him by letting him know you were not indifferent to his case. That the love and affection is to be all on one side is a mistake. How much affection have you educated yourselves to manifest? You are too much shut up to yourselves, and do not feel the necessity of surrounding yourselves with an atmosphere of tenderness and gentleness, which comes from true nobility of soul. Brother and Sister F left their children to the care of the church. They had plenty of wealthy relatives who wanted the children; but they were unbelievers, and if allowed to have the care, or become the guardians, of the children, would lead their hearts away from the truth into error, and endanger their salvation. Because these relatives were not allowed to take the children, they were dissatisfied, and have done nothing for them. The confidence of the parents in the church should be considered, and not be forgotten because of selfishness. 2T 333.2

We have the deepest interest for these children. One has already developed a beautiful Christian character and married a minister of the gospel. And now, in return for the care and burdens borne for her, she is a true burden bearer in the church. She is sought unto for advice and counsel by the less experienced, and they seek not in vain. She possesses true Christian humility, with becoming dignity, which can but inspire respect and confidence in all who know her. These children are as near to me as my own. I shall not lose sight of them, nor cease my care for them. I love them sincerely, tenderly, affectionately. 2T 334.1