Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Ms 3, 1878

Camp Meeting at Plano, Texas, and Illness in McDearmon Family


November 1878

Portions of this manuscript are published in 3Bio 100.

The camp meeting at Plano commenced the twelfth of November. We did not get upon the ground until the night of the thirteenth. We accompanied our daughter Emma to her parents. We had twelve miles to go from Dallas. The sun went down after we had traveled a few miles, but the moon arose, making it almost as light as day. We felt sad indeed as we met Brother McDearmon’s family, to see the ravages disease had made. We had not met them for about three years. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 1

About twenty years ago, on our first visit to Wright, Mich., we became acquainted with the family of Brother McDearmon. We ever found him true to the cause of God—always knew where to find Brother and Sister McDearmon. Both were in feeble health, but accepting health reform has proved a blessing to the entire family. Both Brother and Sister McDearmon were predisposed to consumption. To avoid the cold winters he moved with his family to Texas. They both improved in health and in this mild climate seemed to be overcoming their lung difficulties. Sister McDearmon not only cared for her family, but collected the children together and taught school. Her labors were appreciated even by unbelievers. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 2

The last winter it rained almost constantly, and as the result the very hot weather caused malaria, and their noble boy, John McDearmon, aged 19 years, was attacked with fever. He lived only a few weeks. He had been an obedient, affectionate, faithful son, the comfort and dependence of his parents. Could he have had the advantages of the sanitarium, his life might possibility have been spared. John had never fully identified himself with the people of God, but had attended the Sabbath school and kept the Sabbath, and had been a praying boy. His mind was undimmed, and although a great sufferer, he sought the Lord with his whole heart and found Him. He had the assurance that Jesus had pardoned his sins and the peace of Christ rested upon him. He pleaded earnestly with his eldest brother and his sister to seek God and devote their lives to Him. He died in Jesus. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 3

While this wound was still fresh, Sister McDearmon came down with fever brought on through weary watching and anxious care and heartache at their great loss. There were none to care for them, to watch with them, and share their grief and affliction. They literally bore it almost entirely alone. A telegram was sent to their children in Oakland, California, that the beloved son and brother was dead. Next came over the wires the sad intelligence that the mother lay at the point of death. The daughter Emma felt that she must hasten to her afflicted parents. Our children consulted their mother. I could not advise such a step. The daughter’s hold on life was frail. It would be very dangerous for her to change from the cool climate of Oakland, California, to journey one week in uncertainty, in the heat and dust, then have to endure the trying heat of Texas, which was bringing down those who had become accustomed to the climate. We could not consent for Emma to run the risk. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 4

We made the case a special subject of prayer. We believed that God would as readily hear us pray thousands of miles separated from the subject of our prayer as if we were close beside her bedside. Our hearts were humbled before God, and we exercised faith and received the evidence that the hand of the Mighty Healer was reached down to save and lift up this suffering daughter of Abraham. I told our children that it seemed very clearly presented to me that Sister McDearmon would not die, but live. She would not be strong at once, but she would gradually recover. We made this case a special subject of prayer for days, always with the assurance she would live. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 5

The fever attacked the daughter next, and then the eldest son. Brother McDearmon for a time was the only one to wait upon his distressed family. Everything of temporal matters was necessarily neglected. These afflicted ones suffered for want of care or a cooling drink. The mother, who needed herself the tenderest care, was compelled to wait upon the sick, giving them the very best care she could in her feebleness. Brother McDearmon at length came down. Those of like faith were some of them sick, and those who were not sick did not offer their services in the suffering need, but, like the priest and Levite, passed by on the other side, fearing some burden would fall upon them. The eldest daughter had several relapses because she was compelled to leave her sickbed and do something for the other suffering ones. Could these have had proper care, much suffering might have been prevented. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 6

Sister McDearmon, ever unselfish, ever faithful and ready to wait upon the sick and relieve their suffering and weep with them that weep and rejoice with them that rejoice, must bear her burden alone in her suffering and feebleness. The sick lay and suffered for kindly care, for sympathy, for helpful hands when so much needed. But God did not forsake His afflicted ones. These precious, faithful children of God were not left alone. Angels of God kept faithful vigils, and one after another they were able to arise from their beds of suffering. They had been unable to purchase or cook suitable food to sustain nature. They were greatly reduced in strength. Thus we found them. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 7

Our coming was timely. Joy at meeting their daughter and friends who could sympathize with them seemed to be like cold water to a thirsty soul. It seemed to them to be too great a blessing for them to have. We united our prayers at the throne of grace, and the Lord seemed to be very nigh us. We left our friends improved in health and of much better courage than when we found them. It seems a sad neglect on the part of the brethren to be so thoroughly wrapped up in worldly matters or selfish interest and leave the afflicted ones close by their doors to suffer for the attention they might give them if they were so disposed. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 8

Christ has passed judgment upon such. He says, “I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat; ... I was ... naked and ye clothed Me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not.” The answer comes back, “When saw we Thee thus and administered not unto Thee?” Said Christ, “Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto one of the least of these My servants, ye have not done it unto Me.” [Matthew 25:42-45.] Thus Christ shows that He identifies His interest with suffering humanity. A neglect of the duties due to suffering humanity whom Christ calls His brethren is a neglect of Himself in the person of His saints. Many seem willing to do some great work for the Master, but when He places directly before them work to do in the common duties of life, they will not accept it, but call for some greater work. Would they bear these lessor responsibilities, be faithful in that which is least, they would then evidence that they were qualified for higher trusts. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 9

God proves our faith and our profession of desire to work for Him by placing before us some one of His suffering children to test our willingness and zeal. And if we fail to take the work He gives us, we neglect the very opportunities which we need to give us a valuable experience and bring us in close sympathy with Jesus Christ. Selfishness will not dwell in the heart of a Christian. Wherever self-love and selfishness reign, Christ is not. There are many who make high profession who are not on the Lord’s side at all, but on the side of the enemy. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 10

The camp meeting at Plano commenced Monday night. We did not come upon the ground until Wednesday night. Our daughter Emma White accompanied us to care for us. We found a very good encampment; several tents and board shanties were erected. We found a tent prepared for us with board floor, and carpeted, provided with bedsteads, tables, chairs, and stove. Nothing was wanting to make us comfortable. Our friends who had recently embraced the truth at Plano had anticipated our wants and liberally supplied them in the furnishing of our tent. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 11

Thursday I spoke to the people with great freedom upon the beatitudes in the sermon given upon the Mount. The people listened with the deepest interest. They were hungry and thirsty for the bread and water of life. After speaking, I invited all who had not the evidence of their acceptance with God, all who were backslidden from God, and those who wished to leave a life of sin and be Christians to come forward. Seventy-five promptly responded. And then it melted my heart to hear the touching testimonies borne with choked utterances, many confessing their sins, others their indulgence of tobacco, and entreating the prayers of God’s people that strength would be given them to overcome. One man arose and stated that he had used tobacco for eighteen years and was a drinking man, but the truth presented to them by Brother Kilgore had attracted them, they were next convicted and embraced it, then commenced the sanctifying influence of the truth on the heart and life. He saw that his habits were not in harmony with the pure and holy truth. He had given up his tobacco and his intemperance and had overcome these habits and could triumph in God. He said that those who were acquainted with him could now see in his case what the truth of God could do for a man who accepted it and sought to harmonize with it. He said, “It has wrought a great change in me.” 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 12

Testimonies were borne that the truth of God had the effect upon them to cause them to overcome their appetite for tobacco and other bad habits. Some confessed they were in conflict yet with the power of appetite, but they were determined to leave off every habit not in harmony with the precious truth. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 13

One brother said he had not attended a meeting or heard a discourse for three years. Nine families came from Peoria, one hundred miles, by private conveyance, to attend this meeting. There were three families joined them who came nearly one hundred miles at this season of the year. We offered up our earnest prayer to God for those who had presented themselves for prayer, and the Lord blessed us with His Spirit and grace. The place where we were assembled seemed to be indeed holy ground. Friday three discourses were given, Elder Haskell addressing the people in the morning, myself in the afternoon, my husband in the evening. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 14

At the commencement of the Sabbath all assembled under the tent to wait for the coming in of the sacred time. This was a very precious meeting. Sabbath day, November 16, Elder Haskell, my husband, and myself spoke to the people. After speaking to the people for one hour and a half, we invited them forward again, and about sixty responded. This meeting was of great interest. The testimonies borne were of deep interest. The blessing of God rested upon us in answer to prayer, and many bore testimony that the Lord had blessed them in that very meeting. Every token of the blessing of God should be highly prized; and when His light does indeed shine upon us, we should show gratitude to our heavenly Father by acknowledging the blessing of God. 3LtMs, Ms 3, 1878, par. 15