The Southern Work


Further Counsel Regarding a Colony in the South

The following is taken from a private letter to Mr. and Mrs. J. E. White, written June 21, 1899. SWk 91.1

Brother ----- has sent me a letter in regard to his plans for the South, but I cannot encourage such plans. He will calculate to have all things move smoothly. A community to settle in the South in accordance with the plans he has thought would prove a success, would prove a failure. What is the prospect for feeding and clothing this community? Where is the money to be pledged for building homes for families? The outlay would be greater than the income. There would be a gathering of good and bad, there would be the need of men of clear conception, baptized with the Holy Spirit of God, to run such an enterprise. I might present many things that make it objectionable. There cannot be any colonizing without Satan stirring up the Southern element to look with suspicion on the Northern people, and the least provocation would awaken the Southern whites to produce a state of things they do not now imagine. SWk 91.2

There must be laborers in the South who possess caution. They must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. All who engage in this work should be men who have their pens and tongues dipped in the holy oil of Zechariah 4:11-14. An unadvised word will stir the most violent passions of the human heart and set in operation a state of things that will close the way for the truth to find access to the fields now in such great need of workers. SWk 91.3

It is not ministers who can preach that are needed so much as men and women who understand how to teach the truth to poor, ignorant, needy, and oppressed people. And as to making it appear that there is not need of caution, it is because those who say such things do not know what they are talking about. It needs men and women who will not be sent to the Southern field by our people, but who will feel the burden to go into this neglected portion of the vineyard of the Lord. Men, while their hearts burn with indignation as they see the attitude of the white people toward the black, will learn of the Master, Jesus Christ, that silence in expression regarding these things is eloquence. They all need the intelligence that will lead them to learn of Jesus Christ and the simplicity of how to work. SWk 91.4

The cultivation of the soil is an excellent arrangement, but it is not by Northern people grouping together in a community that will accomplish the work they imagine will be a success. Hot-tempered men better remain in the North. Men and women who possess the true Christlike spirit of ministry may do excellent work among the Southern colored people. Make no masterly efforts to break down the prejudices of the Southern people, but just live and talk the love of Jesus Christ. There cannot be any greater harm done to the Southern colored people than to dilate on the harm and wrong done them by the white Southerners. SWk 92.1

There is need of level-headed men and women who love the Lord Jesus, and who will love the colored people for Christ's sake, who have the deepest pity for them. But the methods of Sister S_____ are not the methods that will be wise to practice. They cannot be petted and treated just as if they were on a level with the whites without ruining them for all missionary work in the Southern field. There is a difference among the blacks as there is among the whites. Some possess keen and superior talents, that if the possessor is not made too much of, and is treated from a Bible standpoint, as humble men to do a Christlike missionary work, not exalting them, but teaching them religious love, and Christlike love for the souls of their own colored race, and keep before them that they are not called into the field to labor for the whites, but to learn to labor in the love of God to restore the moral image of God in those of their own race, then a good work can be done. SWk 92.2

There is a work to be done in opening schools to teach the colored people alone, unmixed with whites, and there will be a successful work done in this way. The Lord will work through the whites to reach the black race—many of them through white teachers, but it needs the man and his wife to stand together in the work. More than one family of white teachers should locate in a place. Two or three families should locate near each other, not huddle together, but at a little distance apart, where they can consult together and unite in worship of God together, and work to strengthen each other's hands to raise up colored laborers to work in the South. SWk 92.3

There is a mistake often made by those who labor in the Southern fields expecting that their brethren in the Northern fields of labor can advise them what to do. Those who have had no experience in the Southern field are not prepared to give reliable advice. Those who are engaged in this work must understand that when emergencies arise they must not depend upon men who have had no experience to advise them. They will often obtain advice that if followed would be ruinous to the work. Therefore it is not good policy for one family alone to settle in a locality. Men and women who have not children are best qualified for the Southern field, and if the Southern field is too taxing or debilitating, one family from the two or three who have settled in a locality can be spared. But let none feel that it is their bounden duty to remain in the Southern field after their health has testified that they cannot do this safely. Some persons can endure the climate and do well. But let our brethren in the more favorable climate consider all these things and provide every facility possible to make the conditions of workers in these unfavorable locations as pleasant as possible. SWk 93.1

In places where money has been expended on buildings, and a start has been made, it is the duty of men in responsible positions to give attention to that locality, so that the workers shall be sustained in accomplishing the work designed when the plant was made. There is to be a work done in the South, and it needs men and women who will not need to be preachers so much as teachers—humble men who are not afraid to work as farmers to educate the Southerners how to till the soil, for whites and blacks need to be educated in this line. But when perplexities arise in the South, spread out your wants to the Master of the vineyard. And those who know nothing of the Southern field, let them be sparing and cautious what advice they give. But sympathy, kind words, and encouragement are always in place.—Letter 102a, 1899. SWk 93.2

Ellen G. White