Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists


Our Duty to the Missionary Work

The members of the church are not all called to labor in foreign lands, but all have a part to act in the great work of giving light to the world. The gospel of Christ is aggressive and diffusive. In the day of God not one will be excused for having been shut up to his own selfish interests. There is work for every mind and for every hand. There is a variety of work, adapted to different minds and varied capabilities. Every one who is connected with God will impart light to others. If there are any who have no light to give, it is because they have no connection with the Source of light. HS 290.5

Ministers should not do the work which belongs to the church, thus wearying themselves, and preventing others from performing their duty. They should teach the members how to labor in the church and in the community. There is work for all to do in their own borders, to build up the church, to make the social meetings interesting, and to train the youth of ability to become missionaries. All should cultivate spirituality and self-sacrifice, and by their means and their earnest prayers assist those who enter new and difficult fields. They should co-operate actively with the minister in his labors, making the section of country around them their field of missionary effort; and the larger churches should labor to build up and encourage those that are weak or few in numbers. HS 291.1

This work has been neglected. Is it any marvel that God does not visit the churches with greater manifestations of his power, when so large a number are shut in to themselves, engrossed in their own interests? It is thus that their piety becomes tame and weak, and they grow bigoted and self-caring. It is in working for others that they will keep their own souls alive. If they will become co-laborers with Jesus, we shall see the light in our churches steadily burning brighter and brighter, sending forth its rays to penetrate the darkness beyond their own borders. HS 291.2

A close sympathy with Christ in his mission of love and mercy, would bring the workers into sympathy with one another, and there would be no disposition to cherish the evils, which, if indulged, are the curse of the churches. The jealousy and fault-finding, the heart-burnings, the envy and dissension, the strife for the supremacy, would cease. The attention given to the work of saving souls would stimulate the workers themselves to greater piety and purity. There would be with them a unity of purpose, and the salvation of the soul would be felt to be of so great importance that all little differences would be lost sight of. HS 291.3

Brethren and sisters in the faith, does the question arise in your hearts, “Am I my brother's keeper?” If you claim to be children of God, you are your brother's keeper. The Lord holds the church responsible for the souls of those whom they might be the means of saving. He has intrusted you with sacred truth; Christ abiding in the individual members of the church is a well of water springing up into everlasting life. You are guilty before God if you do not make every effort possible to dispense this living water to others. Men are perishing close by your own doors, while they hew out to themselves broken cisterns that hold no water. Heaven is indignant at the ease of men and women in Zion, while souls are going down to ruin in their ignorance and their sins. If the members of the church were to see themselves as God sees them, they would be overwhelmed with self-reproach. They could not endure to look their responsibilities and delinquencies in the face. HS 291.4

If we indeed have the truth for these last days, it must be carried to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Ere long the living and the dead are to be judged according to the deeds done in the body, and the law of God is the standard by which they are to be tested. Then they must now be warned; God's holy law must be vindicated, and held up before them as a mirror. To accomplish this work, means is needed. I know that times are hard, money is not plenty; but the truth must be spread, and money to spread it must be placed in the treasury. HS 291.5

Many are trembling with fear because the work moves faster than their slow faith, and because means is expended more rapidly than it comes into the treasury; and yet we have taken only the first few steps in advance. Our message is world-wide; yet many are doing literally nothing; many more so very little, with so great a want of faith, that it is next to nothing. Shall we abandon the fields we have already opened in foreign countries? Shall we drop part of the work in our home missions? Shall we grow pale at a debt of a few thousand dollars? Shall we falter and become laggards now, in the very last scenes of this earth's history? My heart says, No, no. I cannot contemplate this question without a burning zeal to have the work go. We would not deny our faith, we would not deny Christ, yet we shall do this unless we move forward as the providence of God opens the way. HS 292.1

The work must not stop for want of means. More means must be invested in it. Brethren in America, in the name of my Master I bid you wake up. You that are placing your talents of means in a napkin, and hiding them in the earth, who are building houses and adding land to land, God calls upon you, “Sell that ye have, and give alms.” There is a time coming when commandment-keepers can neither buy nor sell. Make haste to dig out your buried talents. If God has intrusted you with money, show yourselves faithful to your trust; unwrap your napkin, and send your talents to the exchangers, that when Christ shall come, he may receive his own with interest. In the last extremity, before this work shall close, thousands will be cheerfully laid upon the altar. Men and women will feel it a blessed privilege to share in the work of preparing souls to stand in the great day of God, and they will give hundreds as readily as dollars are given now. If the love of Christ were burning in the hearts of his professed people, we would see the same spirit manifested today. Did they but realize how near is the end of all work for the salvation of souls, they would sacrifice their possessions as freely as did the members of the early church. They would work for the advancement of God's cause as earnestly as worldly men labor to acquire riches. Tact and skill would be exercised, and earnest and unselfish labor put forth to acquire means, not to hoard, but to pour into the treasury of the Lord. HS 292.2

What if some become poor in investing their means in the work? Christ for your sakes became poor; but you are securing for yourselves eternal riches, a treasure in heaven that faileth not. Your means is far safer there than if deposited in the bank, or invested in houses and lands. It is laid up in bags that wax not old. No thief can approach it, no fire consume it. HS 292.3

Some have selfishly retained their means during their life-time, trusting to make up for their neglect by remembering the cause in their wills; but not one-half the means thus bestowed in legacies ever comes to the objects specified. Brethren and sisters, invest in the bank of heaven yourselves, and do not leave your stewardship upon another. HS 292.4

In obeying the Saviour's injunction, our example will preach louder than words. The highest display of the power of truth is seen when those who profess to believe it give evidence of their faith by their works. Those who believe this solemn truth should possess such a spirit of self-sacrifice as will rebuke the worldly ambition of the money-worshiper. HS 292.5

My soul is burdened as I look over the destitute fields here in Europe, and see the poverty of many, and the difficulties they must meet in keeping the Sabbath, and then think how the way to reach souls is blocked up for want of means. The Lord has made provision that all may be reached by the message of truth, but the means placed in the hands of his stewards for this very purpose has been selfishly devoted to their own gratification. How much has been thoughtlessly wasted by our youth, spent for self-indulgence and display, for that which they would have been just as happy without. Every dollar which we possess is the Lord's. Instead of spending means for needless things, we should invest it in answering the calls of missionary work. HS 293.1

As new fields are opened, the calls for means are constantly increasing. If ever we needed to exercise economy it is now. All who labor in the cause should realize the importance of closely following the Saviour's example of self-denial and economy. They should see in the means they handle a trust which God has committed to them, and they should feel under obligation to exercise tact and financial ability in the use of their Lord's money. Every penny should be carefully treasured. A cent seems like a trifle, but a hundred cents make a dollar, and rightly spent may be the means of saving a soul from death. If all the means which has been wasted by our own people in self-gratification had been devoted to the cause of God, there would be no empty treasuries, and missions could be established in all parts of the world. HS 293.2

Let the members of the church now put away their pride and lay off their ornaments. Each should keep a missionary box at hand, and drop into it every penny he is tempted to waste in self-indulgence. But something more must be done than merely to dispense with superfluities. Self-denial must be practiced. Some of our comfortable and desirable things must be sacrificed. The preachers must sharpen up their message, not merely assailing self-indulgence and pride in dress, but presenting Jesus, his life of self-denial and sacrifice. Let love, piety, and faith be cherished in the heart, and the precious fruits will appear in the life. HS 293.3

In many cases means which should be devoted to the missionary work is diverted into other channels, from mistaken ideas of benevolence. We may err in making gifts to the poor which are not a blessing to them, leading them to feel that they need not exert themselves and practice economy, for others will not permit them to suffer. We should not give countenance to indolence, or encourage habits of self-gratification by affording means for indulgence. While the worthy poor are not to be neglected, all should be taught, so far as possible, to help themselves. The salvation of souls is the burden of our work. It was for this that Christ made the great sacrifice, and it is this that specially demands our beneficence. HS 293.4

We shall be brought into strait places in our work. Trials will come. God will test the strength of our faith; he will prove us to see if we will trust him under difficulties. The silver and gold are the Lord's, and when his stewards have done their duty fully, and can do no more, they are not to sit down at ease, let things take their course, and let the missionary work come to a standstill. It is then that they should cry to God for help. Let those who have faith seek the Lord earnestly, remembering that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” HS 293.5

There are those in the church who have with open hand and heart come forward to the work hitherto, and they will not be behind now. We have confidence in their integrity. But the offerings of the church have been in many instances more numerous than her prayers. The missionary movement is far in advance of the missionary spirit. Earnest prayers have not, like sharp sickles, followed the workers into the harvest field. It is true there is an interest to see success attend the efforts to unfurl the banner of truth in foreign lands, but there has been a lack of heartfelt sympathy with the laborers, and real burden of soul that the means invested may do its work. HS 294.1

This is the ground of our difficulties; this is the reason for the pressure for means. The people must be called to reflection. There must be a spiritual awakening. They must have a personal interest, a burden of soul, to watch and pray for the success of the work. Let every one who gives of his means, also send up his prayers daily that it may bring souls to the foot of the cross. In every church there should be stated seasons for united prayer for the advancement of this work. Let all be united, having a specific object for their faith and entreaties. Brethren, move high heaven with your prayers for God to work with the efforts of his servants. HS 294.2

We need to cry to God as did Jacob for a fuller baptism of the Holy Spirit. The time for labor is short. Let there be much praying. Let the soul yearn after God. Let the secret places of prayer be often visited. Let there be a taking hold of the strength of the Mighty One of Israel. Let the ministers walk humbly before the Lord, weeping between the porch and the altar, and crying, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” HS 294.3

Let none indulge the thought that we have attempted too much. No, no; we have attempted too little. The work which we are now doing ought to have been done years ago. Our plans must enlarge, our operations must be extended. What is needed now is a church whose individual members shall be awake and active to do all that it is possible for them to accomplish. HS 294.4

We are not left alone in this work. We are laborers together with God, in partnership with divine resources. The Lord has agencies that he will put in operation in answer to the importunate prayer of faith. He will fulfill his word, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” The Captain of our salvation is on every field of battle where truth is waging war against error. The truth which we profess offers the highest encouragement to the most devoted self-denial and persevering effort that mortal energies can bestow. We should have the courage of heroes, and the faith of martyrs. HS 294.5