The Southern Work


The Bible the Colored People's Hope

The Bible is the most precious book in the world. It is the only guide to direct the soul to the paradise of God. The apostle says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is a precious treasure. It should be in every home, not to be laid away or put upon a shelf, but to be diligently studied. The Bible is the hope of both the white and the colored race. The idea is disseminated that common people should not study the Bible for themselves, but that the minister or teacher should decide all matters of doctrine for them. This is the doctrine that is taught to the colored people; but the Bible is the poor man's book, and all classes of people are to search the Scriptures for themselves. God has given reasoning powers to men, and by bringing our mental faculties into connection with the Word of God, the spiritual powers are awakened, and common people, as well as teachers and clergymen, may understand the will of God. SWk 46.1

Christ said to the people, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Many of the colored people are unable to read, and as it is necessary to understand the Word of God, it is necessary to teach these people to read. During the days of slavery the colored people were not generally taught to read, because through this accomplishment they became more fully awake to the degradation of their condition. In attaining knowledge, their desire was increased to have liberty, that they might still further pursue their search for knowledge. They saw that it was their right to be subject to no man, but to obey God only. The proclamation that freed the slaves in the Southern States, opened a field into which Christlike workers should have entered to teach those who were hungering and thirsting for knowledge, that they might know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. There were precious jewels of truth that should have been searched for as a man would search for hidden treasure. SWk 46.2

The Lord has given the Bible to us, and it is our privilege to read it for ourselves. It is our duty to search it diligently, that we may receive more and more light from its sacred pages. As we search the Bible to comprehend the truths of salvation, angels of God are present to strengthen the mind and to aid us in understanding that which will be a benefit to us and to others. We are to explore the sacred volume as a miner explores the veins of ore in the earth, and finds the precious seams of gold. While time shall last, we shall desire to know what the Bible has to say in regard to our relation to Jesus Christ, our responsibility to God as free moral agents. We must search the Scriptures, so that we may know how to accept our responsibilities and how to impart the knowledge we have gained to others who are in need of comfort and hope. We must know by experience what it is to have Christ for our sin bearer, in order that we may intelligently say to others, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” SWk 46.3

The opinions we have received through listening to the traditions of men must not be permitted to bar the way so that we shall not receive the light that requires reformation and transformation. Enter your closets with the Bible in your hand, and there commune with God, having an ear to hear what the Spirit saith unto you. Let your heart be humbled and teachable, softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit. If you find that your former views are not sustained by the Bible, it is for your eternal interest to learn this as soon as possible; for when God speaks in His Word, our preconceived opinions must be yielded up and our ideas brought into harmony with a “Thus saith the Lord.” Christ said, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” With submissive spirit you are to obey the truth at any cost, knowing that the precepts of the Bible are the word of the eternal God. SWk 47.1

An experience that brings us into harmony with the Word of God will cost the sacrifice of self. It will require humility of mind and a realization of utter dependence upon God. But those who gain this experience will realize the need of working for others, that they also may believe and rejoice in the truth. Very much depends upon the manner in which the truth is presented. The human heart is a hard field to work. Let the missionary ever keep the Word of God upon his lips. Those who talk the truth will have light upon the Word of God. Contemplating the Word of Christ is beholding Christ by the eye of faith. The Word of God is quick and powerful, and coming in contact with the faculties of men, the human mind becomes strong and vigorous, and able to exercise its powers in learning the lesson of sinking self into Christ. SWk 47.2

The Bible contains the living bread for the soul. Shall this Book, with its treasures of wisdom, be opened to those who are unlearned, and especially to the vast numbers of the colored people who are scattered through the United States? Shall we be justified in withholding this precious Word from the ignorant and depraved, when by partaking of it by faith is eternal life? Shall we expend labor most largely for those who know the truth? Shall weeks be occupied in seeking to work up a greater interest among those who have heard the truth of salvation over and over again, and leave those who have never heard it with no effort for their enlightenment? How much more appropriate would it be for those who have been thus privileged, to expend their time, talent, and money in imparting that which they understand to those who do not know God, and have never had the Scriptures opened up before them—in presenting the special message that is to be given to the world in these last days! Gather up the precious fragments of truth and go to work to present them to those who are starving for the Word of life. SWk 48.1

Through the study of the Word of God, a great work may be done for the Southern people. The colored people, though emancipated from physical slavery, are still in the slavery of ignorance. They are led to believe that they should do just what their ministers tell them to do. Unless their minds are enlightened so that they may understand the scripture for themselves, and know that God has spoken to their souls, they will not be benefited by the preaching of the truth; for they are in a condition to be deceived easily by false teachers. In reaching the colored people, it is best to seek to educate them before presenting the pointed truths of the third angel's message. Let missionaries work quietly for both white and colored people in the South. Let them work in a way to help those who most need help, who are surrounded with influences that are misleading. Many of them are under the control of those who will stir up the worst passions of the human heart. The priests and rulers in Christ's day worked most successfully in stirring up the passions of the mob, because they were ignorant, and had placed their trust in man. Thus they were led to denounce and reject Christ and to choose a robber and murderer in His place. The work in the south should be done without noise or parade. Let missionaries who are truly converted, and who feel the burden of the work, seek wisdom from God, and with all the tact they can command, let them go into this field. Medical missionaries can find a field in which to relieve the distress of those who are failing under bodily ailments. They should have means so that they may clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Christian help work will do more than the preaching of sermons. There is a great need that a class of workers should go to this field who will do this kind of work. Let them meet together and relate their experiences, pray together, and hold their services, not in a way to attract attention to themselves, but in quietness, in meekness, and lowliness. But while they pursue this humble course, let them not sink down into cheapness in conversation, cheapness in manners and ways. Let the workers be Christlike, that they may by precept and example exert an elevating influence. Let them furnish themselves with the most appropriate, simple lessons from the life of Christ to present to the people. Let them not dwell too much upon doctrinal points, or upon features of our faith that will seem strange and new; but let them present the sufferings and the sacrifice of Christ; let them hold up His righteousness and reveal His grace; let them manifest His purity and holiness of character. Workers in the Southern field will need to teach the people line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. SWk 48.2

As men and women embrace the truth in this field, there will be abundant opportunity for relieving their pressing necessities. Unless this can be done, the work will largely prove a failure. To say, be ye warmed, and be ye clothed, and be ye fed, and take no steps to bring these things to pass, will have a bad influence upon our work. Object lessons will be of far more value than mere precepts. Deeds of sympathy will be needed as well as words that will touch the heart and leave an uneffaceable impression upon the mind. Small schools should be established in many localities, and teachers who are tender and sympathetic, who can, like the Master, be touched by suffering, should be engaged to educate old and young. Let the Word of God be taught in the simplest manner. Let the pupils be led to study the lessons of Christ; for the study of the Bible will do more to enlarge the mind and strengthen the intellect than will any other study. Nothing will so awaken the dormant energies and give vigor to the faculties as coming in contact with the Word of God. SWk 49.1

There is much talent among the colored people. Their minds must be aroused, their intellects quickened into activity, that they may grasp the precious truths of the plan of salvation. Their minds have become dwarfed and enfeebled, because they have been called out and exercised upon commonplace matters, and have been occupied with low, cheap ideas. But as elevating truths are repeated, their minds will expand, and their ability increase to take in and comprehend the subjects with which they become more familiar. A field left uncultivated will soon be filled with unsightly weeds and thistles. The mind left uncultivated will be filled with that which is unsightly, and where seeds of truth are not sown, there will be no fruit of a heavenly order. The colored people have been left in ignorance, and the minds of many have lost the ability to expand. But many are not satisfied. They hunger for something they have not. Were they educated so that they could read the Bible, they would draw comfort from the plan of salvation as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. The influence of truth would work for the enlargement of their minds and the strengthening of their faculties. Thus they would be enabled to grasp other branches of knowledge, and prepared to receive information of a general character.—The Review and Herald, December 24, 1895. SWk 49.2