Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 90, 1899

The Needs of the Southern Field


July 3, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in SWk 94-96. +Note

I cannot sleep past eleven o’clock. Several times I have had a pointed testimony in regard to the Southern Field. On one occasion I was in the tabernacle at Battle Creek when the Spirit of the Lord came upon me. What a scene of selfishness was presented before me. I was greatly distressed as I heard this one and that one calling for his wages for work done in the past. I heard many speak in reference to the royalties on books; and in every case they urged that they had been dealt with unjustly. There were some present who seemed unwilling to speak of the matter, and these I was shown were the ones who had good reason to speak, for harm had been done them. But others manifested a selfish, covetous, grasping disposition. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 1

The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I said to those assembled, Will you leave the vestry and come into the Auditorium, for we were very crowded. Then I spoke: I see the development of self to a large and uncomely degree. I will now give you my decision. I shall not claim any back dues. I have been wronged, but I will not oppress the publishing institutions, either in Battle Creek or on the Pacific Coast. I desire to relieve and not to oppress. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 2

I awoke, but my soul was burdened. I felt that peculiar trials were to come upon the people of God. Then was presented before me the situation of the Southern Field. The work which should have been done in that field has not been done. The means sent in by the people to the General Conference for the advancement of the work there was devoted to other purposes. This is where the work of restitution must be done. The Lord is displeased with the men in responsible positions who have not discerned the great need of this field. The work there needs means. God has given warnings, but they have not been heeded. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 3

Church members in America, who have pleasant homes and surroundings, should remember the Southern Field. It is in need of special attention and support. I addressed the president of the General Conference, “Why do you neglect this work? God has made it your duty to deal with this poor, oppressed race as their circumstances demand. Let the work go forward. Encourage the people who are favorably situated to help in this field. The Lord does not call families to work in the South who have young children who would thus be exposed to evil associations; but He calls those who can work to advantage in the different localities.” 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 4

There are men who will tell you that the work in the South has been misrepresented, that it is not so arduous as it is made to appear. Let no one suppose that the Southern Field is an easy place to work, for it is the most difficult portion of the Lord’s vineyard, and soon it will be even more difficult. The greatest wisdom must be exercised. All connected with the work, and especially those who have to do with the publications sent to this field, must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Be careful what your pens shall trace for publication. There are many things which it will do only harm to make public. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 5

If the greatest caution is not exercised, bitterness and hatred will be aroused in the white people in the South, who are yearning for power to oppress the colored race as they have in the past. Those who are in the habit of speaking without consideration might far better remain in their homes than attempt work in this field. Those who think that the precautions given are unnecessary should heed the warnings the Lord has sent. If you would have a part in the work in the South, my brethren, you must hide self in Christ, walking humbly and circumspectly before God. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 6

Common association with the blacks is not a wise course to pursue. To lodge with them in their homes may stir up feelings in the minds of the whites which will imperil the lives of the workers. Goods have been sent to this field which have helped to relieve the necessities of suffering humanity. But this work does not please the white people. In some localities they do not want help to be given to this down trodden race. They desire that they shall ever feel their dependence. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 7

I tell you of a truth that this field with its neglect will come up in judgment to condemn those who have been admonished, but who have refused to lend their aid. The Lord demands restitution from the churches in America. You are to relieve the necessities of this field. In the day of final accounts men will not be pleased to meet the record of their deeds with reference to the books that have been prepared to help in carrying on the work in the South, by which means was diverted from the most needy portion of the Lord’s vineyard. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 8

This matter has been before you a long time, and what have you done to relieve the situation? Why have you kept so quiet? O, that you would do this work of restoration speedily. The Lord calls upon you to restore to His people the advantages of which they have so long been deprived. The evil work done will one day be seen, not in the light in which responsible men now see it, who like the priest and Levite have passed by on the other side, but as God views it. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 9

God’s people have no excuse to offer as to why the years which have passed into eternity do not show better results. The way in which some of the teachers have managed the work in the South has not been right, and yet many have looked with great enthusiasm on the work of those who through incorrect methods have given a wrong mould to the work. Should these methods be encouraged? No; for the material worked upon is not being in the least qualified to help the southern people. The breaking down of distinctions between the white and the colored races unfits the blacks to work for their own class, and exerts a wrong influence upon the whites. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 10

The gentlemen whites consider it degrading to wait upon themselves, to cultivate their land or raise produce. They think that the colored population should be slaves to them. These so-called gentlemen, supposing themselves to be lords of creation, look upon all labor as drudgery, and they crowd into the cities, obtaining their living by scheming rather than by patient toil. These wrong methods for obtaining money are not lacking in evil results. Laziness, which lies at the foundation of many a shipwrecked life, extravagance, and every evil, are to be seen in their lives. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 11

If no way is opened whereby the blacks can obtain a knowledge of how to cultivate and raise their own food, they are still dependent upon the white people for work in the cotton fields, and the white population can still hold to their non-working sentiments, and make themselves dependent upon the labor of the blacks. Gentlemen are they? Where are the gentlemen who are worthy of the name? It is the humane, compassionate, Christlike man who is the true gentleman. Patient, joyous labor brings health to the mental, moral, and physical powers. How many need to understand that the highest and most abiding missionary work they can render to God and to their fellow men is to educate themselves how to engage in useful physical labor. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 12

The light has recently come to me that the Lord does not require Edson White to carry so heavy a load without the co-operation of his brethren. His efforts to do so much have broken down his health, and unless a change is made, he will be unfitted for labor anywhere. The climate in the South is not a favorable one, and Edson and his wife can no longer work against such great odds without sacrificing their lives. Edson will soon be obliged to leave the work in the South, and who have you trained to take his place? That field needs strong helpers, men who possess tender hearts, who can gain the affections of the people. Hard and denunciatory words will close the door against the worker. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 13

Those who labor in the Southern Field—the hardest portion of America—need encouragement, both spiritually and financially. You have chosen to largely withhold your encouragement from Edson. You have neglected to co-operate with him. Now choose a man who will take up his work, for it will be at the sacrifice of his life if he remains in the South. It would have pleased the Lord if you who have been so well situated yourselves had given your sympathy and help to the workers in the Southern Field. I know Edson White will be loath to leave the South, but God does not ask him to sacrifice his life. There are earnest workers in that field, and the Lord will help them if they trust Him fully. 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 14

Again I place this matter before you. Will you act upon the light given? 14LtMs, Ms 90, 1899, par. 15