The Southern Work


An Appeal for the South—2

God estimates man not by the circumstances of his birth, not by his position or wealth, not by his advantages in educational lines, but by the price paid for his redemption. Man is of value with God in proportion as he permits the divine image to be retraced upon his soul. However misshapen has been his character, although he may have been counted as an outcast among men, the man who permits the grace of Christ to enter his soul will be reformed in character and will be raised up from his condition of guilt, degradation, and wretchedness. God has made every provision in order that the lost one may become His child. The frailest human being may be elevated, ennobled, refined, and sanctified by the grace of God. This is the reason God values men; and those who are workers together with God, who are filled with divine compassion, will see and estimate men in the same way that God sees and estimates them. Whatever may be the nationality or color, whatever may be the social condition, the missionary for God will look upon all men as the purchase of the blood of Christ, and will understand that there is no caste with God. No one is to be looked upon with indifference or to be regarded as unimportant, for every soul has been purchased with an infinite price. Therefore, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, let not the colored race be longer neglected by those who claim to believe in Christ as the Saviour of men. Let not one who claims to have heard the gracious words, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” hold himself aloof from those whose lives have been dark and shadowed. SWk 31.1

Was it God's purpose that the colored people should have so much guilt and woe in their lives?—No. Men who have had greater advantages than they have had, have taught them immorality, both by precept and example. Debasing practices have been forced upon them, and they have received low conceptions of life, and even their conceptions of the Christian life are of a depraved order. But the people who have been more favorably situated, who have had light and liberty, who have had an opportunity to know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, are responsible for the moral darkness that enshrouds their colored brethren. Can they who have been so highly privileged afford to stand in their pride and importance and feel that they are altogether too good to associate with this depraved race? Let those who profess to be Christians look to the example of Christ. He stooped to take human nature, in order that He might be able to reach man where he was. The Majesty of heaven came to seek and to save that which was lost; and shall those for whom Christ has done so much, stand aloof from their fellow men who are now perishing in their sins? SWk 31.2

The Lord invites His people to become workers together with Him in rebuilding and reshaping character according to the true standard of moral rectitude. Through faith in Christ we are to be recreated in His image. Jesus says, behold, I create a new thing in the earth. Apostate man is to be recovered; fallen humanity is to be elevated; sin is to be pardoned; and sinners are to be saved, that God may be eternally glorified. The treasures of wisdom which have been hidden for ages are to be brought forth for the enriching of the lost. O what treasures of wisdom are to be opened up for the view of the world! Every divine resource is placed at the disposal of man, in order that he may become a colaborer with God. Nothing has been withheld. When God gave His only-begotten Son to our world, He gave all the treasures of heaven. What power, what glory, has been revealed in Christ Jesus! The greatest display of majesty and power is given to the world through the only-begotten Son of God. With this power at our command, I would ask in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth why it is that God's people do not awake to their duty? Why is it that every individual does not become an example in doing the work that the time demands in first giving himself and then his talents of means and ability for the enlightenment and salvation of a people who are in the dense darkness of pitiful and most deplorable ignorance? Are there not men, women, and youth who will go forth to establish schools, and thus become teachers to instruct the colored people so that they may be enabled to read the word of God? We must teach them to read God's word, or they will become the ready dupes of false shepherds that misinterpret the Scriptures and that manufacture doctrines and teach traditions which will lead them into the paths of perdition there are preachers and teachers among the colored people who are addicted to licentious habits; and how can they understand the binding claims of the law of God when the standard of righteousness is not revealed and exalted before their eyes by the precept and example of their teachers? We must go among them and show them how to honor and obey God's law, in order that they may be prepared to have a part in the new earth. SWk 32.1

Are there not those who can go from house to house, from family to family, and who can repeat the A B C of true Christian experience? Let Christ be your text. In all your labor let it be apparent that you know Jesus. Present His purity and saving grace, that by beholding, these people may become changed into the divine image. Among most of the colored people we find unseemly practices in their worship of God. They become much excited, and put forth physical exertions that are uncalled for in the solemn worship of God. Their superstitious ideas and uncomely practices cannot at once be dispelled. We must not combat their ideas and treat them with contempt. But let the worker give them an example of what constitutes true heart-service in religious worship. Let not the colored people be excluded from the religious assemblies of the white people. They have no chance to exchange their superstitious exercises for a worship that is more sacred and elevating if they are shut out from association with intelligent white people who should give them an example of what they should be and do. Let the white people practice the self-denial necessary, and let them remember that nothing is to be regarded as unimportant which affects the religious life of so vast a number of people as that which composes the colored race. They conduct their worship according to the instruction they have received, and they think that a religion which has no excitement, no noise, no bodily exercises, is not worth the name of religion. These ignorant worshipers need instruction and guidance. They can be won by kindness, and can be confirmed in well-doing. Both old and young will need to be instructed as one would instruct a family of children. SWk 33.1

Let the worker give them an example by associating with them and by revealing the virtues of Christ Jesus. They need to be brought in contact with cultivated minds, to come into association with those whose hearts are softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit. They are imitative, and will catch up pure sentiments, and be influenced by elevated aspirations. A new taste will thus be created, and elevated desires will spring up for things that are of good report, pure, honest, and lovely. But if the colored people are left in their present condition, and do not have presented before them a higher standard of Christianity than they now have, their ideas will become more and more confused, and their religious worship more and more demoralized. They have been strangely neglected. Poverty and want are common among them, and very little has been done to relieve their distress. We cannot be surprised that such neglect should result in hardness of heart and in the practice of vice, but God cares for this neglected class. The colored people have souls to save, and we must enter into the work, and become colaborers with Jesus Christ. We cannot leave them as we have left them in the past. We cannot be justified in expending money so lavishly in providing conveniences for ourselves and in furnishing facilities for those who have been more fortunate, and are already abundantly supplied with every facility, and do nothing for those who know not God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. We must not abandon millions of the colored race to their degradation, and because they are degraded, pass them by on the other side. SWk 33.2

Let us bear in mind the words that Christ spoke to the people who were honored above others in being privileged to have the Lord Jesus Christ to labor among them, and yet who did not appreciate this privilege and did not diffuse the light of Heaven to others. He said: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” SWk 34.1

But while Christ pronounced a woe upon those who did not repent at His preaching, He had a word of encouragement for the lowly: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Many of the colored people are among the lowly who will receive the Word of God, and shall not this long-neglected work of enlightening the colored people be entered into perseveringly, and be carried forward all the more diligently because it has been so long neglected? We must do a work for the colored race that has not yet been done. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Son of God, the Creator of the world, sacrificed His own life in order that He might become the Redeemer of fallen humanity. He made an infinite sacrifice that He might become man's surety and substitute, and shall we remain indifferent to a downtrodden, abused race? SWk 34.2

God cares for the colored people, and if we would cooperate with Him for the salvation of their souls, we must care for them, too, and become laborers together with Him. We need to repent before God, because we have neglected missionary work in the most abandoned part of God's moral vineyard. There needs to be a stirring up among the members of our churches. There needs to be concern created for our colored brethren at the great heart of the work. We should rouse up to the interest that true Christians ought to feel for those who are depressed and morally degraded. The fact that their skin is dark does not prove that they are sinners above the white race. Much of their depravity is the fruit of the neglect of the white people. They have not felt the sympathy that they ought to have felt for the abandoned and wretched. Those who profess to love Christ should have worked for their colored brethren until hope would have sprung up in their hearts. Many are completely discouraged, and they have become stolid because they have been neglected, despised, and forsaken. The poor and unfortunate are numbered by thousands, and yet we have looked on indifferently, and seen their sorrow, and have passed by on the other side. Their degraded condition is our condemnation. The Christian world are guilty because they have failed to help the very ones who most need help. Christ says, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” SWk 35.1

Should we not work the Southern field? We have had every advantage in temporal and spiritual things, and shall we do nothing for our colored brethren? We cannot abandon the colored race and be accounted as guiltless. Christ speaks of His own mission in these words: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, 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.” Are we not to follow the example of Christ? Are we not, as His human agents, to carry forward the work He came to do? Christ said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” We cannot leave souls for whom Christ died to be the prey of Satan's temptations. We cannot abandon this great flock to their ignorance, want, suffering, and corruption. This would not be doing the will of God. We cannot heap advantages upon ourselves and upon those who are not in need and pass by those who are in utter want, and be approved of God. This neglect is charged against those who have had great light, who have had marvelous opportunities, and who yet leave so large a portion of God's moral vineyard unworked. For years Satan has been sowing his tares among the colored people, and the field cannot be worked as easily now as it could have been worked years ago. But there should be no delay now. Reproach is brought upon Jesus Christ when those who profess to be carrying the last message of mercy to the world pass this field by. Christ did not pass by the needy and suffering. He united works of mercy with the message of salvation He came to bear to men. He engaged in a constant, untiring ministry, and worked for the perishing and sorrowful. He prefaced His message of love by deeds of ministry and beneficence, leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps.—The Review and Herald, December 3, 1895. SWk 35.2