The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials


Remarks by Ellen G. White on Missionary Work

Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 23, 1888

Our Saviour has given to everyone his work, and no one of us can plead any excuse to God why he has not done the very work which God has given him to do. He does not require of the men to whom He has entrusted two talents the use of five talents; but He expects us to do our very best according to the capability and the powers which He has given us. And while we seek to put to use the talents He has given us, these talents will improve. 1888 146.1

The plans which have been suggested by our brother we believe to be sound, and if we will practice something in this line in the several churches, we shall find that those churches which carry out a system of labor will be living churches; for a working church is a living church. But here comes in the difficulty. There needs to be ability to educate properly, to teach how the different members shall have their part in the work; and every one who is set as a leader in the church, or a minister who has charge in the churches should consider this a part of his work. Now how is it possible for them to neglect this part of the work, and yet to be able to fulfill the direction that is given in the Bible by Paul, to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”? This is the very work that is devolving on the teacher. It is to try to educate, educate, educate, by precept and example; and if we can get a church in working order, and if we can teach them how to work in this very line, you will find that these workers will have a special interest. “Why, yes,” they will say, “I have acted a part in that work; I have done something in that, and I have an interest to do more.” Just according to the several ability which God has committed to them can they work intelligently, and work in Christ. 1888 146.2

Now here is the great essential point, to be sure that these workers have the spirit of Jesus Christ. If they are filled with the love of God, which should be in the heart of every worker, and if they seek wisdom from above, they will become more and more intelligent in regard to their work, and they will become more efficient in their work and will come up to be useful workers. Now, the very first thing is to have our hearts and minds and ways and manners so that they will not offend. We want to be such excellent representatives of the missionary cause that it shall stand as high as possible. Our brother was speaking in regard to commencing on the bottom round of the ladder. I believe this is the best way. It is not best for those uneducated to grasp at the top round of the ladder and think that they can do the work; but if they will be humble they will begin to gain an experience and have an aptitude for the work. 1888 147.1

I want to know why, as Christians who profess to believe the most solemn truths that God ever gave to mortals, we should not have works to correspond to our faith. Christ has said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” That is the work we are to do, and God will help us by letting His light shine through us. We want to be the very best and most intelligent workers that there are anywhere. 1888 147.2

We can see many of our sisters who know how to crochet fine articles for their houses. Now, what if they would spend their time in earnest prayer to God and the study of His Word that He would help them to have heavenly wisdom to know how to save the souls of those around them? It looks to me as though this kind of work is hay, wood, and stubble, of substances that are consumable and perishable; but the work that they might do in cleansing their own household and working for their neighbors would present lasting results of good. And if they were interested in this work they might be sowing seeds of truth. We must sow beside all waters, and we do not know which shall prosper, this or that. But the first work is a personal consecration to God. 1888 147.3

I have seen ladies in England who would be riding in their carriages with their little dogs in their arms and the little blanket to put over them, and the houses that were built, beautiful and expensive. You ask what these houses are for, and the answer is, “For the hounds and dogs.” But you can see the little children and women, miserable and poor, in the streets, destitute of clothing. Now, what sense is there in that? Do you think that work will be as far reaching as eternity? We do not want to misuse any of God's creatures, but we want to give our first attention to those souls for whom Christ died, and we do not want to devote our means in such foolish channels. We do not want our means to flow out for our own selfish interests; but we want to use it in gaining that experience that will help us to advance the missionary work; and in doing this we are laying up a treasure in heaven. God Himself will connect with every self-sacrificing work and effort that shall be made to educate and train ourselves for labor, and will put His seal and mold on it. It may look to us very feeble, and we may never understand the results of our labor, but God knows all about it, and we sow beside all waters, not knowing which will prosper, this or that. 1888 147.4

There are churches in different places which we may find that are ready to die. If they were ready to die to self and sin, if covetousness and the love of pleasure would die, they would not be so bad; they would be led to bring all their powers into exercise for doing the work of the Master, and then it would be a good death. But it is a spiritual death that pervades our churches. There are not those who feel the importance of teaching the members of the church and trying to get workers for the cause of God, to educate them that they may see the importance of putting to the stretch every power and talent that God has given them. 1888 148.1

Our sisters can do a good work for the Master. They can work for the sisters in their homes. Our brethren can reach the men. Those who have a little time, in the place of smoking the cigar and enjoying themselves at the saloon, can not only save their money, but their time, and can do a good work for the Master. 1888 148.2

I remember that when the converting power of God came upon me in my childhood I wanted everyone else to get the blessing that I had, and I could not rest till I had told them of it. I began to visit with my young companions and went to their houses to talk with them and tell them my experience, how precious the Saviour was to me, and how I wanted to serve Him, and how I wanted them to serve Him also. So I would talk of the preciousness of Christ, and I would say, Won't you kneel down and pray with me? Some would kneel and some would sit in their chairs, but before we gave up, every one would be on their knees and we would pray together for hours, till the last one would say, “I believe that Jesus has forgiven my sins.” Sometimes the sun would begin to make its appearance in the heavens before I would give up the struggle. 1888 148.3

There is a great power in Jesus. Now when we go into the house we should not begin to talk of frivolous things, but come right to the point and say, I want you to love Jesus for He has first loved you. And as Brother Starr has said, take along the publications and ask them to read. When they see that you are sincere they will not despise any of your efforts. There is a way to reach the hardest hearts. Approach in the simplicity, sincerity, and humility that will help us to reach the souls of those for whom Christ died. We do not want to be negligent in this work. 1888 148.4

The plan now under consideration I believe to be one that God will be pleased with. Churches that are now ready to die want someone to devise and plan for them who has the power to set things in operation. But who will do it? There are enough who want to be Christians, and if we will let the leaven begin to work, it will take one and then another, just as the Spirit of God will work with us, and we will see that we can reach the people, not by our own smartness, but by the Spirit of God. Yet we want the ability and power that God has given us to be brought into use. We do not want to be novices forever; we want to know how to conduct ourselves properly; we want Christian politeness. And we want to carry it with us in all our work. We do not want any of the sharp corners which may be in our character to be made prominent, but we want to work in humility, so we will forget them, and better characteristics will come in. We want cheerfulness in our work. A great deal depends on the way you meet those whom you go to visit. You can take hold of the hand in such a way as at once to gain the confidence. If you take hold of it with a cold, unimpressive manner, as though you were an iceberg and did not want to be melted, you will find no warmth in return. 1888 148.5

When we were on the boat on our way to Europe I met a physician who said, “I want to give you a little advice. You will find a cold, stiff-necked people, and if you will be as stiff you will never do them any good; but if you will go right to them and talk with them no matter how diffident they seem to be, they will meet you all right; talk to them just as you did to me. They will see that you have a heart and will love to talk with you. I love to talk with you about these things; do the same way in England.” 1888 149.1

You don't want to hold yourselves as though it were a condescension to come in contact with poor families. Talk as though they were as good a piece of humanity as you are. They have little enough light and joy, and why not carry additional joy and light to shine in upon them and fill their hearts? What we want is the tender sympathy of Jesus Christ, and then we can melt our way right into their hearts. We want to clothe ourselves, not with pomposity, but with plain, simple dress, so that they will feel that we are an equal with them, and as though we considered that they were worth saving, and we can melt our way into their hearts. 1888 149.2

Now, brethren and sisters, we want the iron taken out of our souls, and we want it taken out of our manner of work. We can educate workers in every church. Don't let the ministers feel that they must do all the talking, and all the laboring; but call on others to lead the meetings occasionally. In doing this they are being educated. Let them take turns in giving Bible readings. This is calling into use the talent which God has given them. 1888 149.3

I read of a man who had a corps of workmen over whom he placed an overseer. He had charge of twelve men and they were to dig a trench, and the man came along one day where they were at work, and there was the overseer down in the trench, and the sweat was rolling off from his brow, but the twelve men were looking down into the trench watching him in his labor. The overseer was called up and asked what he was doing down there. “I ordered you to keep twelve men at work. Why have you not done it? Here are your wages.” 1888 149.4

Now, God has made us teachers of the flock, and He wants us to educate them in every branch of the work, that we may bring in all the talents. Our ministers do the labor instead of educating others to take the responsibility of the cause. The minister's work should be the work of a teacher. One laborer might set twenty to work in less time than it would take him to do the work himself. Let them blunder and make mistakes, and then kindly show them how they can do it better, and then you can be educating, educating, educating, until you have men and women who have experience in the things of God and can carry responsibility, and that is what we have been suffering for. We need men who can bear responsibility, and the best way to gain the experience they need is to engage in this work. 1888 150.1

Then if we work for others we will not lack for something to talk about when we assemble together. We will not have to talk about our brethren and think of our self-sufficiency, for we will be working out of those things and getting to be workers for Jesus Christ. If this branch of the work could be taken up in every conference and church, I believe we should see in the year to come an elevation, a healthfulness, a different atmosphere in the church. There would not be so many tattlers and gossipers. There would not be so much time for idle tales, and we would see many souls converted to Christ. Why should we not feel an interest for those around us when Christ has given us such an evidence of His love? Why, brethren, God will not leave us. He will let His converting power be upon us. These things will enlarge as the waves from a pebble thrown in the water; the first are small, but they grow larger and larger till they reach the bank. 1888 150.2

Brethren, we want to do something to set things in operation for God. We want to do something that will save souls, that at last we may enter into the joy of our Lord, that we may give praises to our Lord that we have been the means of saving some through Him. That some may say, It is through your instrumentality, it is you who saved me through Jesus Christ. That is the way we shall enter into the joy of our Lord. This is the way we want to work. We cannot know here what the effect of our work has been, but we shall see in eternity what we have done for the Master. Shall we plan and devise to carry out these plans to the letter? then the blessings of the Lord will attend all our labors.—Manuscript 10, 1888. 1888 150.3