Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 164, 1897

The Southern Field

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

March 2, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in SWk 79-82.

I have been deeply stirred during the night season. I was in a meeting where were present men to whom have been entrusted large responsibilities. I cannot now write as fully as I would like to do, because I have not the strength, but I have words to say that I dare not leave unsaid. One stood in our midst and said to Brother Olsen, Brother C. H. Jones, Dr. Kellogg, and several others: “There is a large work to be done in lines that the Lord has laid out before you—a work that has as yet scarcely been touched. I have sent my message to you, and what have you done for the Southern Field, for the colored people? What have you done with the means solicited for that field? <Some are guilty. They> have robbed this destitute field of the means that God designed should come into it. The money brought in, in response to the appeals made in behalf of the Southern Field was just as much set apart for that work as is the tithe for the support of the ministers. Why did you divert that means to other purposes? What facilities have you set in operation to save the souls of this down-trodden people? Why has the Southern Field been passed by on the other side as though its people are not worthy of saving? Why have you not heeded the appeals made, and brought your means into the treasury?” 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 1

God is displeased with your unfaithful stewardship. The books prepared to bring in a revenue for that field might have helped largely; but dishonest measures were used to obtain the control of these works, that other interests might be advanced. God hates this dishonest dealing. He cannot sanction such artful scheming, such dishonest practices. He now calls for these very facilities to be appropriated where He designed they should be. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 2

Mismanagement, wrong methods, ill advised movements, have brought a reproach upon the work and cause of God, and these matters need to be adjusted. The book work needs to be cleansed of every artful intrigue. Those who have stood at the head of this unjust dealing will never be clean in the sight of God until they restore that which they have taken away. They are held responsible for the work that might have been done, but is not. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 3

The use of means in lines which will make a good showing is right, but not until you have done the work the Lord has appointed you to do in the field that has been so manifestly neglected. The Lord says, “Their suffering, their poverty, their degradation, has come up before me. I have heard their cries, I have seen their neglect. I have called your attention to the field. But the means you should have used to advance the work there, you have appropriated to more pleasing work, more promising fields—fields that have not such necessities, and will reveal no better results.” 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 4

The Southern Field is a hard field, a very unsightly field, because it has been so long uncultivated. All who take hold of the work in the cause of God and suffering humanity will have to be one in their designs and plans. They will have plenty of trials and discouragements to meet, but they must not allow these to hinder or dishearten or handicap them in their work. In love for Christ who died to save this poor, down-trodden people, in love for the souls of the perishing thousands, they are to labor for this worse than heathen country. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 5

Brethren, you have a work to do which you have left undone. A long neglected field stands out in plan view before God to shame the people who have light and advanced truth, but who have done so little to remove the stones and the rubbish that have been accumulating for so long a time. Those who have enjoyed every privilege and blessing have passed by on the other side. As a Christian people, God has called you to prepare the way of the Lord in this unpromising field. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 6

God sent a message to Nineveh by His servant Jonah, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” [Jonah 1:2; 3:1-4.] 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 7

When the people of Nineveh humbled themselves before God, and cried to Him for mercy, He heard their cry. “God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” [Verse 10.] But Jonah revealed that he did not value the souls in that wretched city. He valued his reputation, lest they should say he was a false prophet. He said, “O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” [Jonah 4:2.] Now when he sees the Lord exercise His compassionate attributes, and spare the city that had corrupted its ways before Him, Jonah does not co-operate with God in His merciful design. He has not the people’s interests in view. It does not grieve him that so large a number must perish, who have not been educated to do right. Listen to his complaint: 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 8

“Therefore, now, O Lord, take I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” [Verses 3-6.] 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 9

Then the Lord gave Jonah an object lesson. He “prepared a worm when the morning sun rose next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did rise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored; neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perisheth in a night; and should I not spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” [Verses 7-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 10

In the history of Nineveh there is a lesson that you should study carefully. This lesson is to learned for yourselves, and in regard to your relation to the Southern States. You must know your duty to your fellow beings who are ignorant and defiled, and who need your help. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 11

The Southern Field is a hard field, but is this any excuse for your doing scarcely anything in it? Let us read the eighth and ninth chapters of 2 Corinthians. Study and heed these lessons, for you need such examples kept ever before you. The Lord is not pleased with you treatment of the Southern Field. And after the Lord has called your attention to your neglect, your wrong has been increased in your management of the books. The entire profits of these books should have been used in that destitute field. But deception has been practiced, and the means which the churches have been told to use in bettering the condition of the Southern Field, they have appropriated to fields that have had much better advantages in every way. Will you be prepared to meet this neglect in the judgment? The Lord now calls upon you to do more than begin where you ought to have begun years ago. You have restitution to make of that means which you have diverted from the field. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 12

You have done this work notwithstanding the light that has been given you and kept before you. Not only did the design for this work originate with God, but the facilities were His, and were to be found in His treasury. God will reward according to the measure of the neglect shown for His purposes and His specified methods. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 13

He designs that we shall educate the people how to work to sustain themselves. The insignificant measures employed in their behalf come up before God, in the destitute corrupted state of humanity. The apostle Paul could say of the primitive churches, “They glorified God in me.” [Galatians 1:24.] There are many souls in the South who through well-directed labor may be converted, but the work must be conducted in different lines than in any other field in the United States. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 14

What deep humiliation should be felt by those whom God has so greatly favored with His blessing of light, whom He has made the repositories of truth, the most sacred truth ever given to our world, but who have neglected their God-given work. What far seeing judgment would they now have, if at the heart of the work men had been careful to seek their counsel from God as to who should connect with His great work to prepare a people to stand in these last days “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12.] 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 15

There need be no dearth of means today for the advancement of the work, but the Lord has no pleasure in His people because pride and selfishness have expelled mercy and the love of God and their fellow men from their hearts. Wrong actions are clothed with a pretense of righteousness, which the Lord calls dissembling, false weights, unjust balances, and fraud. This is the iniquity of the people of God. They have not restored the pledge, nor brought back that which they have taken away. “Truth has fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” [Isaiah 59:14.] 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 16

The deepest humility should be felt by those who have the privileges of enlightenment and education in missionary lines. The Lord God of heaven, by whom all actions are weighed in the golden balances of the sanctuary, looks upon the thousands of colored people, our neighbors, who in their destitution are spreading their cases before the Giver of all mercies and blessings. These people are perishing in their sins. As a people they are ignorant, <many> knowing nothing of purity and godliness and elevation. But among them are men and women of quick perceptions, excellent talents, and these will be revealed when once the Spirit of God shall turn their attention to the Word. But they need ministry, not in the Word alone. Those who would do God service in this field must go among the people. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 17

There are those who, while they profess godliness, are not pure. They have corrupted their ways before God. And when these meet those who have no disguise for their corruption, they have so little sense of what constitutes a high and holy character, that they are in danger of revealing that they are of a class as degraded as their fellow beings of the Southern States. The people of the South do not need those to go among them who have not the love of the truth in their hearts, and who will easily yield to temptation, who, with all the light they have, will descend to the low level of the moral corruption of those they are professedly trying to save. This will be the danger of those whose minds are not pure; therefore be sure that men of steadfast principle be sent to work for God in this field. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 18

In His providence, God is saying, as He has been saying for years past: Here is a field for you to work. Those who are wise in agricultural lines, in tilling the soil, those who can construct simple, plain buildings, may help. They can do good work and at the same time show in their characters the high morality which it is the privilege of this people to attain to. Teach them the truth in simple object lessons. Make everything upon which they lay their hands a lesson in character building. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 19

The South is calling to God for temporal and spiritual food, but it has been so long neglected that hearts have become hard as stone. God’s people need now to arouse and redeem their sinful neglect and indifference of the past. These obligations now rest heavily upon the churches, and God will graciously pour out His Spirit upon those who will take up their God-given work. 12LtMs, Ms 164, 1897, par. 20