Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Lt 188, 1899

Haskell, Brother and Sister [S. N.]

Maitland, New South Wales, Australia

November 13, 1899

Portions of this letter are published in TSA 97.

Dear Brother and Sister Haskell:

I will send you in this mail copies of the last letters I sent to Africa. I have carried a tremendous burden for Africa. We must save the Wessels family if possible. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 1

Last Sunday I was requested to attend a council meeting held by the brethren in Elder Starr’s house. Elder Daniells, W. C. White, Brother Palmer, and one or two others were present. The question to be settled was, “Who shall teach Bible in the school during the coming term?” The matter seemed to stand between Elder Farnsworth and Elder Robinson. This drove me to make some statements which I now feel the time had come for me to make. I was forced to present before the brethren the favorable and unfavorable qualifications of both Elder Robinson and Elder Farnsworth. This involved much, especially in the case of Elder Robinson. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 2

Elder Robinson is more responsible than any other man for the present condition of the Wessels family, because he could and should have helped them. He was a missionary on missionary soil, but he did not take the right course to help the Wessels. He did not do what he would have done had his soul been warmed with the love of God. He did not seem to have tact to deal with human minds. It was not in him to understand the temperament of the Wessels brothers. Often he stirred them up instead of pacifying them. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 3

Had Elder Robinson pursued a different course, Philip would not have given up the Sabbath. It would have been better if Elder Robinson and some others had not gone to Africa until they were themselves molded by the Spirit of God. But it is sufficient to say that Elder Robinson did not understand himself or the Wessels family. Neither did he realize that his position as president of the conference demanded a course of action different from the one he followed. His management was not for the best interest of the work in Africa. He was there as a missionary, to do the highest kind of missionary work among the African people. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 4

The Wessels family would have helped him with their means to carry the work into new territories had he given them a chance. Books should have been translated in the Dutch and other languages. The Wessels family should not have invested the money that they have in America. This was not consistent with the Lord’s way of working. When there are in foreign countries those who have means to handle, the Lord would have those in positions of trust see things afar off as nigh at hand. But there were sent to Africa from America as workers those who had not developed wisdom either in spiritual or temporal things; and some of these workers were no help to the people in Africa. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 5

The one placed in charge of the work in Africa should have been wide awake to the necessity of aggressive warfare. He should have given the members of the Wessels family a chance to engage in the work of the Lord, a chance to use their means in missionary work, in the work of translating, in helping those in the darkness of error. It was in this work that their means was most needed, not in America. Philip should have been encouraged to employ translators to send light into the dark places of Africa. He could have united with his brethren in getting out tracts and papers. Publications should have been issued in different languages. Laborers should have been sent to new places. Territory should have been added to the Lord’s kingdom. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 6

Africa needed the means which was invested by the Wessels family in America. There was in the dark places of Africa a people who were stretching out their hands for the truth. There was a large field for missionary work in the regions beyond Cape Town. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 7

In God’s plan there is neither exception nor limitation in the gospel call. The gracious provision has been made for all. The call to the feast is for all. This truth must be preached by precept and example. The hardest fields must be worked. Those who enter such fields as Africa must be able to comprehend the necessity for advancing the saving process that must be carried on in the regions beyond. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 8

The Wessels’ money flowed the wrong way when it went to America, for America needed it less than any other portion of the Lord’s vineyard. The Wessels family needed help. They needed to be brought into the work, and united and bound up in the work. It would have been better, far better, if not one of them had ever seen America. But please keep this to yourself. If the workers sent to Africa had been filled with the true missionary spirit, if they had been workers who could have educated others, a far greater work would have been accomplished. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 9

Philip and Peter Wessels, and others, could have done the highest kind of missionary work if they had been encouraged in a kind, courteous manner, and shown how to work. They would not have followed the lead of those in America, who in sympathy and discernment are so far separated from foreign fields that they know little of their needs or of the work done in them. In America money and workers are absorbed altogether too largely in one class of work. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 10

In Africa the highest energies of the soul should have been exercised for the recovery of those who needed saving. Nowhere else in our world could true missionary work have accomplished such great changes as in Africa, and from Africa this work would have extended to regions beyond. But much that ought to have been done has not been done. The workers have not understood that first a work must be done with themselves. They needed converting anew. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 11

God has His instruments always in readiness, to use when He needs them; but often in their blindness men plan, as supposedly wise men, and fail to discern whom the Lord would use. If Elder Haskell had united Philip and Peter Wessels with him in breaking the way into new territory, God would greatly have blessed him and them. But the way was barred by his brethren’s lack of faith. If the missionary work that ought to have been done as a part of the gospel had been done, as Elder Haskell greatly desired to have it done, the terrible war now raging in Africa would not be. There were men right in Africa richly endowed with capabilities, who, if trained, would have been better fitted for the work there than some of those sent from America. Missionary teachers are sent by God to educate people just where they are. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 12

It is running a great risk to send men from Africa to America to learn the ways for which God has reproved those in America. It is safer to educate students at home than to send them to America to receive an education. In America they see and hear much that does them no good, which they would not see and hear were they to remain in their own country. Too many of the methods and habits and fashions have been transported from America to Africa, and the result is not favorable. The very best teachers should be sent from America to foreign countries to educate the young. 14LtMs, Lt 188, 1899, par. 13