Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Lt 30a, 1894

Harper, Walter

Norfolk Villa, Prospect St., Granville, New South Wales, Australia

July 8, 1894

Portions of this letter are published in 12MR 94; 4Bio 141, 163-164.

Dear Brother Harper:

I will send you a copy of a letter written to Elder Olsen, so [I] need not go into particulars here; but I feel it my privilege and duty to address a few lines to you. Our brethren in America can have no idea of our necessity in this “region beyond.” [2 Corinthians 10:16.] They seem to be only able to see nigh, but not afar off. Many of our people here possess good ability, they are intelligent people, but they are poor in this world’s goods, though rich in faith. New churches are being raised up, and in every place they must have a small house of worship to accommodate those who embrace the truth. In this country, school houses and meeting houses are rarely to be obtained for service by our people. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 1

I have tried to do what I could to supply this pressing necessity. The present of about forty dollars made to me by some in California, I have given toward meeting the debt on the Parramatta church, making the donation up to fifty dollars. The debt is still large, and I greatly fear our brethren here will lose their place of worship if money cannot be raised to cancel the debt. We are living in Granville, about a mile from Parramatta. If you could find it in your heart to invest in some of these new churches, it would be pleasing to the Lord. Send what you can to these needy churches, and as faithful stewards we will appropriate the means where there is the greatest necessity for help. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 2

We are interested in the little companies newly come to the faith. In Kellyville they have a comfortable little church built in an orange grove. There is no debt on it. It was in this place that some of the “orthodox” Pharisees worked as spies and stirred up the officers of the law to arrest the Firth brothers for Sunday breaking. These brethren were found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine or to be put in the stocks. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 3

The work must now be carried on at Castle Hill, ten miles from Kellyville. The tent was once pitched there, but the opposition was so intense that the meetings could not be carried forward at that time. The farmers even refused to supply our brethren with water from their cisterns. There are but few wells; zinc tanks are built, holding a large quantity of water. Brother Steed’s family had to get water from the irrigation ditches for household use. But since then our publications have been circulated, and the bitterness has been largely removed by reading. An effort must be made in that place. Castle Hill is a beautiful part of the country, abounding in groves of orange, lemon, and passion fruit. We want the banner of truth uplifted in this locality, twelve miles from Granville. An opening is now made; a man who is interested offers the large chamber over his store as a hall for meetings, and they call for me to speak there. One brother, who has recently embraced the truth, is out of debt and in possession of a profitable orange orchard. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 4

The poor are everywhere. The banks have ruined the country. They invested the people’s deposits in various speculations, exceeded their funds, and as the result some have failed, and others have closed, so that the people are poor and helpless. Thousands are destitute of money; they are thrown out of work, and distress is everywhere. The country is in financial ruin. We need not have felt the pressure we are now under if the books could be sold, but not much can now be done in this line. People are so poor that canvassing is not a success. The horse-racing, the multiplied holidays, the theater-going, the gambling, the public houses (called saloons in America) gather up a large share of what little means there is, and the country is made no better for it. If the public houses were but closed, how much suffering would be saved. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 5

Now I come right to the point: if in the providence of God you have means, will you help the truth to advance in this country? Queensland is just being entered, and money is needed to do the work that will open this new field. In one place thirty have accepted the truth, and until very recently they have never seen a living preacher. Elder Starr and his wife are now on the ground, but our treasuries are empty. We have now purchased land for the school. We could not get more desirable land, for we had not means to invest; it is a question how to raise the money even to pay for what we have. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 6

One brother has just sold his home in order to settle where the school will be located. He will loan what he has—a hundred and fifty pounds—for a few weeks, to make the first payment. The whole amount is only about five thousand dollars, but nowhere is there money sufficient to make up that sum. The price of the land was four thousand, five hundred dollars. The expense of examining title and having everything done in a legal manner increases the expense, so we shall have to raise about five thousand dollars. Now the workmen must be put onto the land, and they must have their pay, for they depend on the little they can earn to support their families. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 7

We are not situated as are our people in America, and I wish they could understand our difficulties. They can call on their brethren who have means; they can draw money from the banks, but our resources seem cut off. We have not money in our possession to pay the workers in our own family. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 8

I have pledged money toward building houses of worship in both New Zealand and Australia. A church must be built at Seven Hills, and we must have means. Will you help us? In America they do not come into such desperate straits as here. We have cut down our family expenses until we do not see how to do more in that line. We use neither butter nor meat. My wardrobe is in need of replenishing, but I dare invest nothing for this. Our phaeton is altogether unsuited for this region. It was built to run on city streets, and is too heavy for country roads. In Melbourne I purchased a poor run-down horse for forty dollars. With good care he has come up on our hands. He is perfectly safe, never plays us a mean trick, and is not afraid of cars or anything. So we transported him from Melbourne to this place. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 9

I have so much wanted a light carriage in which we could drive to the different churches off the railroad lines. Kellyville is a distance of eleven miles, Castle Hill twelve miles, Seven Hills eight miles, Sydney thirteen miles. This last place can be reached by rail, but in going to our place of worship we have to shift from cars to tram, and then are left to walk a considerable distance. By using our own carriage we save much confusion. We have seen good carriages sold for a low price, but we had no money to invest, and so our heavy carriage has been dragged about the circuit until we are tired of the slow progress we are compelled to make, and the injustice done our faithful horse. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 10

Again I ask if you have any of the Lord’s money invested in any place that you can draw from, we urge you for Christ’s sake, for the truth’s sake, to help us in our emergency, and try to interest others to help us just now. You have done something for our school, for which the Lord will be glorified. Every dollar you have given me I have invested in the school, and I see so many ways to work, and nothing to work with, that I ask you to help us. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 11

Since writing the above, Willie has come from Sydney. He reports that he succeeded in borrowing money from some of our brethren to make up the sum of four thousand, five hundred dollars for the land. But we should not be left to such straits. There is money in someone’s hands, and some of this borrowed money must be paid in a few weeks, for it is all their “living.” [Mark 12:44.] I sincerely hope and pray for deliverance from this pressure. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 12

While in our tent, pitched for the accommodation of those who should visit us, for want of room in our rented house, one of our family came to me saying that a boy about fifteen years old was at the door with a small basket of apples and oranges, for which he asked one shilling—twenty-four cents. He was told that we had a supply of this fruit, for we buy at auction. He pleaded with the girl to buy, for, said he, “We are starving.” The question was asked, “Where is your father? Cannot he get work?” He said sorrowfully, “My father is dead. My mother is in poor health, but does what she can to support her children. I am the eldest of the family, and the responsibility of earning something comes upon me. Won’t you buy? I have taken but thirteen pence today.” I told the girl to buy his basket of fruit, and to give him some food to eat. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 13

Our own people are in a similar situation. Obedience to the truth puts them in a trying place. Generally, if they keep the Sabbath they are thrown out of employment. This is a sad picture, but to have the work of God at almost a standstill is terrible. “What can be done?” is the question that comes up again and again. God lives, and He knows all things. If our people in America who believe the truth are lacking in economy, He knows all about it. If they are selfish and will use means merely to gratify themselves, He is acquainted with all this, and will reward every man and woman as their works shall have been. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 14

Well, I write you these things that you may be on your guard and not use your means unwisely, or bestow it where it is not essential. I want you to make an investment for the erection of our school buildings. We must go at this at once. May the Lord impress your heart to set some of the Lord’s money flowing in the channel of Australia. You have already made donations, but as the Lord is constantly intrusting you with His capital of means, it is that you shall set it flowing heavenward to advance the grand work of saving souls. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 15

Brother Harper, help us now if you possibly can. If you can, make a donation as soon as possible, and lend us money at low interest or without interest. We will be so thankful. Now is a critical time; no less than four churches have been raised up since the camp meeting in Victoria last January. These additions lay weighty responsibilities upon all the missionaries in these fields. You cannot know how we carry the heavy burden as we see these souls tested, thrown out of employment, unable to obtain labor unless they will give up the Sabbath. We must comfort and encourage them; we must help them as they shall be brought into strait places. There are many souls as precious as gold, and every sinner saved causes rejoicing in the heavenly courts. We cannot see how we can do otherwise than write to California for means, or ask anyone in America who has means to help us. We cannot be silent now. We feel constrained by the Spirit of God to write to our brethren for help. I will send you copies of letters if I can get them. Tomorrow the American mail closes. I remain your sister in Christ. 9LtMs, Lt 30a, 1894, par. 16