Testimonies to Southern Africa


Chapter 3—Counsel to Missionaries in Africa

Battle Creek, Michigan March, 1890 Dear brethren now labouring as missionaries in the field of Africa: You have not all the same stamp of character, and each will be inclined to think that the work must be moulded according to his own ideas and views. Unconsciously to yourselves, this spirit will be cherished, and you will seek to introduce methods of your own. 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. Before any of you went to Africa as missionaries, it was shown me that there would be difficulty in your labours, not necessarily because the workers were so differently constituted, but because of each esteeming himself above his 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 dishonour God. TSA 21.1

You are indeed labourers 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 instrument. If you fully realize the importance of God's work, you will not work in opposition one to another. TSA 21.2

Be careful how you build, for it is for time and for eternity. Counsel together, have your seasons of prayer together; make no move independently or in opposition to one another. Christ is our living head, and we are members of His body, and all dependent upon the head. It is not our Lord's plan that any member of His body shall suffer for want of proper exercise; for if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; if one is enlightened and honoured of God, all rejoice. Every member derives its life and working power from the same source, “even Christ, from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.” “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” Each worker is to use his God-given ability to the utmost for the upbuilding of Christ's kingdom on the 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. TSA 22.1

The Lord Jesus Christ is the living vine, and all who are children of God are grafted into the parent stock, drawing sap and nourishment from the one root. The branches are not blended into one, but are diverse, separate branches, yet they all live from the same root. In the words of Christ we find an important lesson which should have a more direct bearing upon the life, the motives, and the experience of those who claim to be children of God. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” How essential it is that every one who claims to be a child of God should work in harmony with Christ, catching the divine illumination of His spirit, studying the manner of His labour, and working as He worked, putting self out of sight and ever making Christ prominent. We should bring our own ways into harmony with Christ's ways, manifesting the spirit of the Master worker, that Jesus may appear in our work and in our character. TSA 22.2

There should be no strife, no envyings, no seeking for supremacy. The work is sacred and holy, and God forbid that you should give to those for whom you labour an example of coldness, selfishness, and avarice. If your work has been done in human wisdom, it will bear your mould, it is marred in your hands. Your work is of an exalted character, and should not be in any way so marred as to make it unacceptable and unattractive. Your discourses must be followed by a holy life. Precious lessons of love, confidence, respect for one another, must be given both in and out of the desk. You must live that which you teach. As labourers together with God, you must first come close to one another, for God's instruments must not work at cross purposes. Constantly educate yourselves to be one, as Christ was one with the Father, each improving his entrusted talents. TSA 23.1

Brethren, let all see that you are living out the lessons of Christ. If any one of the workers thinks that his way is perfect, and that the brethren do not appreciate his wisdom and experience, it is a positive evidence that he is not learning meekness and lowliness of heart in the school of Christ. The transforming grace of Christ always leads to meekness and humility. The Lord is not dependent upon us to do His work; He has given us the great privilege of co-operating with Him. You may have diverse temperaments, and yet be labourers together with God, all working in harmony, and when all your ability is put into the work, you will accomplish the best results. In doing the Lord's work we cannot follow our own judgment and peculiar notions. We must work with an eye single to the glory of Christ. Do not talk about that which cannot be done, but of that which can be done through the strength given you of God. “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts,” and “the cattle upon a thousand hills.” TSA 23.2

The Lord's resources are unlimited; we are only instruments in His hands, and great things can be accomplished through His name. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” We are so familiar with our own peculiar traits of character that we often think too highly of self, we become satisfied, and do not seek to improve as we should. Sanctification through the truth requires a daily improvement in manner, address, attitude, and spirit. If we are branches of the true vine, we shall bear fragrant blossoms and desirable fruit. In our feebleness and ignorance we cannot depend upon ourselves; we must not think that there are no improvements to be made, for we are to learn daily in the school of Christ, not how to reach the highest place, but to become meek and lowly of heart, pure and undefiled, rising above cheapness and the commonplace. We have intercourse with the eternal world, and we must reveal all the light which we have received from heaven. Our thoughts must not run in a low, narrow channel, but we must be learners, constantly receiving clearer views, and higher and holier aspirations. Be sure to pray and counsel together before coming to decisions and laying your plans, and then, in the spirit of Christ, push the work unitedly. If one of your number decides that he cannot co-operate 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. TSA 23.3

From any one who persists in stubbornness and self-will, God will remove His spirit, and another will wear the crown that was for him. God accepts only those who will learn of Christ, those who study His Word, learning lessons of meekness and lowliness of heart, lessons of obedience, willingness to do his work in God's way, not their finite way. The work that is wrought in God will bear the credentials of heaven, and will show marked results. Personal views should be kept subordinate in the work of God; you must in all things put Christ foremost. To present the truth as it is in Jesus, is a work as enduring as eternity. The work coming forth as a perfect whole from the hands of various workmen, each acting his part, will bring the commendation of the Captain of our salvation. You have a work to do, and it is not best to keep ever before the mind the difficulties and the impossibilities. Say continually, “Through Jesus Christ who strengtheneth us, we can do this work.” TSA 24.1

The Captain of the Lord's host cast down the walls of Jericho, and heavenly angels are ever ready to minister to the humble, the meek and lowly ones, to remove obstacles and to save souls. With true courage you can do a mighty work for the Master, a work that, when weighed in the scales of heaven, will be pronounced well and faithfully done. Do not bring hay, wood and stubble to lay upon the foundation stone, but bring the most precious of materials, gold, silver, and precious stones which cannot be consumed. An independent judgment that will show no respect for the judgment of others, must not be cherished in the hearts of any of God's workers; no one should feel that he is a criterion; no one should indulge in self-esteem, for God has told us in His Word that we should esteem others better than ourselves. TSA 25.1

Love of self, pride, and self-sufficiency lie at the foundation of the greatest trials and discords that have ever existed in the religious world. Again and again the angel has said to me, “Press together, press together, be of one mind, of one judgment.” Christ is the leader, and you are brethren; follow Him. Walk in the light as He is in the light. Those who walk in the footsteps of Christ shall not walk in darkness, but those who draw apart in unsanctified independence cannot have God's presence and blessing in the work. Clean hands, a pure heart, and a right spirit are the gifts of God; seek for them with all diligence. Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” TSA 25.2

God has a great work to be accomplished in Africa, and no plans must be laid without the aid of His infinite wisdom. After your plans of labour 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 labour 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. You must look to the Captain for orders, and then obey without questioning. As you go forward in the strength of Israel's God, in simplicity and faith, the difficulties which Satan will magnify into mountains will become as mole hills. Workers can easily place themselves where divine love, power, and wisdom cannot reach them, where they cannot have help in counsel, in difficulties and trials, because they would not understand and rightly appropriate heaven's rich treasure. They would glorify themselves, and think their own ways perfect, and become established in self-righteousness. Man's wisdom is counted foolishness. When self is put entirely away, then you can obtain a new and rich experience, you will discern your own imperfections as you lie low at the foot of the cross, and as you view the perfections of Christ, self will sink into insignificance. TSA 25.3

Christ will appear to the discerning eye the perfection of attractive loveliness; then His mould will be upon mind and heart, and will be revealed in the character. The impress of the divine mind should be made upon the heart, and manifested in the life. Come to Jesus in your need, pray in living faith, hold fast to the hand of divine power, believe, only believe, and you will see the salvation of God. If you will be taught, God will teach you; if you will be led, He will lead you to fountains of living waters. The Saviour invites you, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Some for whom you labour will wish to have the work done in their own way, thinking their way is best; but if you have the spirit, the meekness of Christ, if you show respect and love for one another, God will enable you to perfect the work in a manner that will please Him. Show that you yourselves are willing to be taught. TSA 26.1

The most impressive lesson you can give to those whom you educate, will be that of a Christlike character. Let there be perfect harmony; this is the greatest evidence that you can present of the power of the truth upon the heart. Work for your own souls until self is subdued, until Christ recognizes His image in you. This is the duty of every worker in the Lord's vineyard. Those who are now advancing the truth of God, are ranging themselves on the side of Christ, united in heart, mind and voice, speaking the same things in defence of the truth. The Lord weighs our actions and our motives, and He will give great power to those who are His own. Christ is not divided; Christ in one worker will acknowledge Christ in a brother worker. Those who are exacting, who are faultfinding, who think evil of others, are advancing the work of the enemy, tearing down that which God would have built up. All these discordant elements represent the powers of darkness, and show that Christ, the hope of glory, is not found within. TSA 26.2

All who are in Christ will do the work of Christ, ever learning of Him. My brethren, you are missionaries, and may you be so transformed that your strong traits of character shall do no harm to the cause of God. 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. Self-sufficiency is a hindrance to the work. Be an example to those who shall accept the truth. May the Lord give you light and wisdom and His righteousness, is my prayer.—Letter 4, 1890. TSA 27.1