Welfare Ministry



Personal Experiences of Ellen G. White as a Welfare Worker

[While all through her life Mrs. White was mindful of the needs of those about her, there were times when these needs pressed especially hard. No attempt is made in the following pages to give an exhaustive account, but rather to present some typical experiences concerning which she happened to make a record in her diary or in her letters. These excerpts present the wide field of her welfare ministry, with larger emphasis on two periods in her life experience, one rather early and the other later in her life. WM 321.1

In the “jottings” from the diary of 1859 we see Mrs. White as a thirty-one-year-old mother of three lively boys, carrying the household burdens, writing, traveling, and preaching, and at the same time assisting those around her who were suffering or in need. Through the nineties we observe her in Australia during a period of severe and prolonged depression, with heart-breaking needs on every side. With these the reader will also find a number of statements which help to trace the thread of her welfare activities through her entire life. WM 321.2

The reader will observe that the E. G. White diary entries are recorded in terse diary style, sometimes in short phrases and often in the present tense. Surely it will be also recognized that the purely biographical account as Ellen White recorded her day-by-day activities does not constitute instruction for the church and therefore is not to be considered as authoritative testimony. This is true also of biographical references drawn from the E. G. White letters. Nevertheless, the example of Ellen White does add emphasis to her precept. WM 321.3

The burden of heart carried by Mrs. White, her sense of her responsibility to those in suffering and need about her, and her eagerness to help, though seemingly ever hampered by limited resources, should encourage every Seventh-day Adventist to greater and more enthusiastic participation in Welfare Ministry.—Compilers.] WM 321.4

E. G. White Instructed to Set an Example.—After my marriage I was instructed that I must show a special interest in motherless and fatherless children, taking some under my own charge for a time, and then finding homes for them. Thus I would be giving others an example of what they could do. WM 321.5

Although called to travel often, and having much writing to do, I have taken children of three and five years of age, and have cared for them, educated them, and trained them for responsible positions. I have taken into my home from time to time boys from ten to sixteen years of age, giving them motherly care and a training for service. [From the pen of two workers who in their youth spent many months in the White home we have the following comments of what they personally witnessed.—Compilers. WM 321.6

“Not only was Mrs. White a strong counselor for her husband, to guard him against making mistakes that would jeopardize the cause in any part, but she was most careful to carry out in her own course the things she taught to others. For instance, she frequently dwelt in her public talks upon the duty of caring for widows and orphans, citing her hearers to Isaiah 58:7-10; And she exemplified her exhortations by taking the needy to her own home for shelter, food, and raiment. I well remember her having at one time, as members of her family, a boy and girl and a widow and her two daughters. I have, moreover, known her to distribute to poor people hundreds of dollars’ worth of new clothes which she bought for that purpose.”—J. O. Corliss, The Review and Herald, August 30, 1923.

“Elder White was himself a very philanthropic man. He always lived in a large house, but there were no vacant rooms in it. Although his immediate family was small, his house was always filled with widows and their children, poor friends, poor brethren in the ministry, and those who needed a home. His heart and his pocketbook were always open, and he was ready to help those who needed help. He certainly set a most noble example to our denomination in his largeheartedness and liberality of spirit.”—The Medical Missionary, February, 1894.] I have felt it my duty to bring before our people that work for which those in every church should feel a responsibility.

While in Australia I carried on this same line of work, taking into my home orphan children, who were in danger of being exposed to temptations that might cause the loss of their souls.—The Review and Herald, July 26, 1906. WM 322.1