Special Testimony to Battle Creek Church

Church Schools

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, N. S. W.

December 15, 1897.

Dear Brother,

In your letter you asked me serious questions, and lay out propositions which are sensible and right. There should be schools established wherever there is a church or company of believers. Teachers should be employed to educate the children of Sabbath-keepers. This would close the door to a large number who are drifting into Battle Creek,—the very place where the Lord has warned them not to go. In the light that has been given me, I have been pointed to the churches that are scattered in different localities, and have been shown that the strength of these churches depends upon their growth in usefulness and efficiency. PH086 40.2

A large amount of the responsibility piled up in Battle Creek is not in accordance with the principles that the Lord has set before us. There should be fewer buildings erected in Battle Creek to call the crowds of people there. All those large buildings should not be crowded together as they are. They should have been placed in different localities, and not in the very midst of one city. The various cities should have representatives of the truth in their midst. I cannot go contrary to the will of God, and say, Erect more buildings in Battle Creek: but I would say, There should be fewer interests centered at Battle Creek and far more in other places where there is nothing to give character to the work of God. PH086 40.3

In all our churches there should be schools, and teachers in those schools who are missionaries. It is essential that teachers be educated to act their important part in educating the children of Sabbath-keepers, not only in the sciences, but in the Scriptures. These schools, established in different localities, and conducted by God-fearing men and women, as the case demands, should be built on the same principles as were the schools of the prophets. PH086 41.1

Special talent should be given to the education of the youth. The children are to be trained to become missionaries, and but few understand distinctly what they must do to be saved. Few have the instruction in religious lines that is essential. If the instructors have a religious experience themselves, they will be able to communicate to their students the knowledge of the love of God they have received. These lessons can be only given from those who are themselves truly converted; and this is the noblest missionary work that any man or woman can undertake. PH086 41.2

Children should be educated to read, to write, to understand figures, to keep their own accounts, when very young. They may go forward, advancing step by step in this knowledge. But before everything else they should be taught that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. They may be educated line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; but the one aim ever before the teacher should be to educate the children to know God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. PH086 41.3

Teach the youth that sin in any line is defined in the Scriptures as “transgression of the law.” Sin originated with the first great apostate. He was a disobedient subject. He led the family of heaven into disobedience, and he and all who were united with him were cast out of the paradise of God. Teach the children in simple language that they must be obedient to their parents, and give their hearts to God. Jesus Christ is waiting to accept and bless them, if they will only come to him and ask him to pardon all their transgressions, and take away their sins. And when they ask him to pardon all their transgressions, they must believe that he will do it. PH086 41.4

God wants every child of tender age to be his child, to be adopted into his family. Young though they may be, the youth may be members of the household of faith, and have a most precious experience. They may have hearts that are tender, and ready to receive impressions that will be lasting. They may have their hearts drawn out in confidence and love for Jesus, and live for the Saviour. Christ will make them little missionaries. The whole current of their thought may be changed, so that sin will not appear a thing to be enjoyed, but to be shunned and hated. PH086 42.1

Small as well as older children will be benefited by this instruction; and in thus simplifying the plan of salvation, the teachers will receive as great blessings as those who are taught. The Holy Spirit of God will impress the lessons upon the receptive minds of the children, that they may grasp the ideas of Bible truth in their simplicity. And the Lord will give an experience to these children in missionary lines; he will suggest to them lines of thought which the teachers themselves did not have. PH086 42.2

The children who are properly instructed will be witnesses for the truth. Teachers who are nervous and easily irritated should not be placed over the youth. They must love the children because they are the younger members of the Lord's family. The Lord will inquire of them as of the parents, “What have you done with my flock, my beautiful flock?” PH086 42.3

It is surprising to see how little is done by many parents to save their own children. Every family in the home life should be a church, a beautiful symbol of the church of God in heaven. If parents realize their responsibilities to their children, they would not under any circumstances scold and fret them. This is not the kind of education any child should have. Many children have learned to be faultfinding, fretful, scolding, passionate children, because they were allowed to be passionate at home. Parents are to consider that they are in the place of God to their children, to encourage every right principle and repress every wrong thought. PH086 43.1

If in their own homes children are allowed to be disrespectful, disobedient, unthankful, and peevish, their sins lie at the door of the parents. It is the special work of fathers and mothers to teach their children with kindness and affection. They are to show that as parents they are the ones to hold the lines, to govern, and not to be governed by their children. They are to teach that obedience is required of them, and thus they educate them to submit to the authority of God. PH086 43.2

In educating the children and youth, teachers should never allow one passionate word or gesture to mar their work, for in so doing, they imbue the students with the same spirit which they themselves possess. The Lord would have our primary schools as well as those for older persons, of that character that angels of God can walk through the room, and behold in the order and principle of government, the order and government of heaven. This is thought by many to be impossible; but every school should begin with this, and work most earnestly to preserve the spirit of Christ in temper, in communications, in instruction, the teachers placing themselves in the channel of light where the Lord can use them as his agents, to reflect his own likeness of character upon the students. They may know that as God-fearing instructors they have helpers every hour to impress upon the hearts of the children the valuable lessons given. PH086 43.3

The Lord works with every consecrated teacher; and it is for his own interest to realize this. Instructors who are under the discipline of God do not manufacture anything themselves. They receive grace and truth and light through the Holy Spirit to communicate to the children. They are under the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, and how unbecoming it would be for them to have an unkind spirit, a sharp voice, full of irritation. In this they would perpetuate their own defects in the children. PH086 44.1

O for a clear perception of what we might accomplish if we would learn of Jesus! The springs of heavenly peace and joy, unsealed in the soul of the teacher by the magic words of inspiration, will become a mighty river of influence, to bless all who connect with him. Do not think that the Bible will become a tiresome book to the children. Under a wise instructor the work will become more and more desirable. It will be to them as the bread of life, and will never grow old. There is in it a freshness and beauty that attract and charm the children and youth. It is like the sun shining upon the earth, giving its brightness and warmth, yet never exhausted. By lessons from the Bible history and doctrine, the children and youth can learn that all other books are inferior to this. They can find here a fountain of mercy and of love. PH086 44.2

God's holy, educating spirit is in his word. A light, a new and precious light, shines forth upon every page. Truth is there revealed, and words and sentences are made bright and appropriate for the occasion, as the voice of God speaking to them. PH086 45.1

We need to recognize the Holy Spirit as our enlightener. That Spirit loves to address the children, and discover to them the treasures and beauties of the word of God. The promises spoken by the Great Teacher will captivate the senses and animate the soul of the child with a spiritual power that is divine. There will grow in the fruitful [mind] a familiarity with divine things which will be as a barricade against the temptations of the enemy. PH086 45.2

The work of teachers is an important one. They should make the word of God their meditation. God will communicate by his own Spirit to the soul. Pray as you study, “Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” When the teacher will rely upon God in prayer, the Spirit of Christ will come upon him, and God will work through him by the Holy Spirit upon the minds of the student. The Holy Spirit fills the mind and heart with sweet hope, and courage, and Bible imagery, and this will be communicated to the student, the words of truth will grow in importance, and assume a breadth and fulness of meaning of which you have never dreamed. The beauty and virtue of the word of God has a transforming influence upon mind and character; the sparks of heavenly love will fall upon the hearts of the children as an inspiration. We may bring hundreds and thousands of children to Christ if we will work for them. PH086 45.3

Let all to whom these words may come be melted and subdued. Let us in our educational work embrace far more than we have done of the children and youth, and there will be a whole army of missionaries raised up to work for God. I say again, Establish schools for the children where there are churches,—those who assemble to worship God. Where there are churches, let there be schools. Work as if you were working for your life to save children from being drowned in the polluting, corrupting influences of this life. PH086 46.1

Too much is centered in Battle Creek. I need not advise that the sound of the ax and hammer be heard in Battle Creek in erecting new buildings. There are places where our schools should have been in operation years ago. Let these now be started under wise directors. The youth should be educated in their own churches. In America you can build three schoolhouses cheaper than we can build one in this country. It is a grievous offense to God that there has been so great neglect to make provision for the improvement of the children and youth when Providence has so abundantly supplied us with facilities with which to work. PH086 46.2

Can we wonder that children and youth drift into temptation, and become educated in wrong lines by their association with other neglected children? These children are not wisely educated to use their active minds and limbs to do helpful work. Our schools should teach the children all kinds of simple labor. Can we wonder, neglected as they have been, that their energies become devoted to amusements that do them no good, that their religious aspirations are chilled, and their spiritual life darkened? Thousands in their own homes are left almost uneducated. “It is so much trouble,” says the mother. “I would rather do these things myself; it is such a trouble; you bother me.” PH086 46.3

Does not mother remember that she herself had to learn in jots and tittles before she could be helpful? It is a wrong to children to refuse to teach them little by little. Keep these children with you. Let them ask questions, and in patience answer them. Give your little children something to do; let them have the happiness of supposing they help you. There must be no repulsing of your children when trying to do proper things. If they make mistakes, if accidents happen, and things break, do not blame. Their whole future life depends upon the education you give them in their childhood years. Teach them that all their faculties of body and mind were given them to use, and that all are the Lord's, pledged to his service. To some of these children the Lord gives an early intimation of his will. Parents and teachers, begin to teach the children to cultivate their God-given qualities. PH086 47.1

My brother, I feel deeply over the mistake of locating so many important interests at Battle Creek. There is a world to receive the light of truth. Had interests been located in cities where nothing is being done, the warning message would be given to other cities. You have asked me in regard to the schools being opened in our churches. I have tried to answer you. That light which has centered in Battle Creek should have been shining in other localities. Schools should have been opened in places where they are so much needed. This will provide for the children and youth who are drifting into Battle Creek. Let the church carry a burden for the lambs of the flock, in its locality, and see how many can be educated and trained to do service for God. PH086 47.2

Mrs. E. G. White