Loma Linda Messages

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The Responsibilities of a Conference President

MS. -105-'07. October 10, 1907.

(Interview on Southern California Conference Matters.—Part 1.)

Report of an interview, Sabbath afternoon October 5, 1907, at the home of Mrs. E. G. White, Sanitarium, California. Present: Mrs. E.G. White, Elders G.W. Reaser, J.A. Burden, and W.C. White, and C.C. Crisler.

J.A. Burden: Brother Reaser and I came here to talk over some matters. The communications that have been sent us by you have been very stirring, very touching, and Brother Reaser, it seemed to me, was taking a somewhat wrong view of them, and I felt that others were influencing him in wrong ways concerning them. Of course, in his position, when leading men talk to him in the line that he is inclined to feel like following, it even urges him on’ and so I advised him to come and talk with you. But he did not want to come, unless I should come along with him. I had all confidence to come to headquarters, and that you would meet him here, and tell him whether there was any further light for him. LLM 288.1

Now this is the position that is taken by a great many, concerning the communications that you have recently sent to Southern California: That the communications were written with reference to a situation that had been set before you by Brother W. C. White—that you had written communications to meet the situation, as it was represented to you by him. Now this thing has gone all through Southern California. Many brethren have taken the same position. But I said, I do not believe that is the right position at all, and so I thought that Brother Reaser could come and see you, and have the matter cleared up in his mind, so that he might know of a surety that the Lord was speaking directly, and not on a false view of a situation. LLM 288.2

Although he and I have differed, I have confidence in Brother Reaser, that when he sees a thing right, he will take a right stand; but I have felt that he was seeing things wrong, and taking a wrong stand. LLM 288.3

Sister White: During the past few days, I have been looking over my old diaries, and in them I find written out principles very similar to those outlined in the Testimonies sent recently to brethren in Southern California. The same dangers of centralizing the work, and of binding about and restricting the laborers of our fellow workers, are brought to view. Southern California is not the only field where there is a tendency to restrict and bind about.. In several other fields the same evil has to be met. LLM 288.4

J.A. Burden: You will pardon me, if I speak of definite points. All the brethren that have met this, agree on a certain line, namely, that a situation is laid before you by Brother White, and you, from your knowledge, write on that representation, and not because you have received light apart from that. LLM 289.1

Sister White: He will tell you himself that it is I that presents the situation to him. LLM 289.2

J.A. Burden: That is what I say. LLM 289.3

Sister White: He does not seem to want to tell me anything about the Southern California meeting. Scarcely anything has he told me,—only some points that he knows would not trouble my mind. He does not feel like opening things to me, but I come to him with manuscripts, and I tell him, This must be copied, and sent out just as quickly as it can be. Now I have light, mostly in the night season, just as if the whole thing was transacting, and I viewed it, and as I am listening to the conversation, I am moved to get up and meet it. This is the way it is, and then in the morning I tell him about it. Often he doesn't say a word,—not a word; but after awhile, when I have written and written, then he acknowledges that it is so. He is quite sure that it is so, because he was there; but he did not tell me. LLM 289.4

J.A. Burden: But what I feel so anxious about is that our brethren shall know these things; for they are in the dark about them. LLM 289.5

Sister White: They shall know them, if God gives me strength to go to the next meeting; and I expect to have strength to go. you were not up to the camp-meeting in St. Helena, were you? Well, I had a message for them at St. Helena, but I did not give it. For a long time I labored under a depression, fearing I had neglected my duty, but recently I had light that I was not under condemnation, because the circumstances did not belong to me; they belonged to others. LLM 289.6

W.C. White: Mother continued in a weak and discouraged condition until about ten days before the Los Angeles Camp-meeting and then when the Lord opened up to her the conditions there, and what she must write, she told me about the burden that had been given to her for the work there, and she told me that the Lord would give her strength. LLM 289.7

G.W. Reaser: Now, Sister White, may I make a few statements to you concerning why I came up here especially? LLM 289.8

Sister White: Certainly. LLM 290.1

G.W. Reaser: You know, of course, as well as I do, that the Testimonies that you sent down there were directed largely to me and concerning my work, and it brought in such an intense situation that I felt as if I could not go on and have anything further to do with the health work, without having some understanding; and I did not want to come up here alone, because Brother Burden represents one side of the situation there; and if I, who have represented another side, should have come up here alone, and carried back a report, it would not have been so well as for two to carry it. So we are here together. LLM 290.2

The situation is this: There have been some extremely heavy burdens for some of us to bear in Southern California, and apparently but few to bear the burdens. It is all too true that we have not trusted the Lord enough to bear our burdens. I am not here to speak of these burdens, but I want to have an understanding as to just what to do, and what not to do. Now, of course, we have had, as you know, several heavy burdens to bear down there. The matter about our going into debt, was practically the only thing that has been between Brother Burden and me. The only material difference of opinion was about the matter of going into debt at Loma Linda after we took over the property; and I felt as if I was strengthened by almost everybody in the Conference, and in the Union Conference as well, in trying to prevent a heavy debt coming; and I really thought, Sister White, I was strengthened, too, by your writings along that line. LLM 290.3

Sister White: How long have you been in the position as President of the Conference? LLM 290.4

G.W. Reaser: Two and a half years. LLM 290.5

Sister White: Were these debts accumulating all this time? LLM 290.6

G.W. Reaser: We took Loma Linda after I was called to the presidency of the Conference, and the debts were accumulated at the time of the purchase of this property, and afterward. We set to work to reduce the Fernando debt, and it is now reduced from $24,000 to $4,000; but the indebtedness has been increased on Loma Linda by making good investments, and, with my understanding of the situation, I could hardly grasp all of that. LLM 290.7

Sister White: The raising of money was for the school particularly? LLM 290.8

G.W. Reaser: With the blessing of the Lord, we have reduced the indebtedness of Fernando Academy from $24,000 to $4,000 in round numbers. It would not take long to cancel the remaining indebtedness. My whole nature and education were against going into debt heavily, and that was what caused the whole issue down there; and yet when I came up to this camp-meeting, I told Brother Burden that hereafter I was not going to take such strong ground as I had in the past. I confessed to the brethren that I had taken too strong ground, and asked them to forgive me; and I asked the Lord to forgive me, because I was radical in my position, and thought we ought not to go into debt. Sometimes I did not say right things to Brother Burden. But each of us hold nothing against the other. LLM 290.9

Now the question is, when the Testimonies have come, saying what they have, does the Lord want me to cut loose entirely from the Sanitarium work, and not have anything to do with it? Or, does the Lord want me to have something to do with it, and try always to manifest grace,—to manifest the right spirit? That is the question I want light upon. LLM 291.1

Sister White: If you continue as president of the Conference, that responsibility should be carried in perfect accord with your brethren. Here is one who has the chief burden of one enterprise, and another the chief burden of another enterprise. Now if one has been placed by the Lord in a position where he carries the burden of a sanitarium enterprise, it is perfectly right that you should counsel with him, but to keep agitating, all the while, the minds of your brethren, by criticizing the work that he is doing, is not right. He has his appointed work; and there are others, in other positions of responsibility, who have their appointed work, as in Bible times. The Scripture says, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists.” Thus it goes on to tell what the work of different ones is. LLM 291.2

I have felt very much burdened over the responsibilities connected with the opening of the Loma Linda Sanitarium, because there were so many things to be done at once. And I could not see how I could help the situation. I have felt burdened very much; and I kept all the time planning how we could reach out, and get hold of something that would relieve some of their indebtedness. In the night, the thought came to me, “Well, what are you worried about? The Lord has made known your duty, and you have done it, by offering the sanitarium the privilege of selling “Ministry of Healing,” and applying the proceeds to the reduction of their indebtedness. You have paid your workers; you have paid your typewriters, and then you have given away all that would otherwise have come to you from the book.” LLM 291.3

So also with regard to “Christ's Object Lessons,” given for the relief of our schools. To my certain knowledge, $200,000 has been brought in from the sale of “Object Lessons,” to help relieve the school of indebtedness... LLM 291.4

W.C. White: About 20,000 copies of “Ministry of Healing” have been put out, and there is so little being done in the relief way, that now we are planning to get out a subscription edition at the beginning of the year, to be sold by the agents in the regular way. Still, those who wish will have the privilege of using “Ministry” as a relief book wherever they desire to do so. LLM 291.5

G.W. Reaser: A good work has been done by these books, but it ought to go further. Now this, Sister White: I do not want to tire you this evening, I want to make this little statement to you, that ever since I have been a Conference President, in different parts of the country, I have had an interest in the medical work, and have always been anxious that wherever I was located, in every Conference, that there might be perfect harmony between the medical work and the Conference work; and I felt anxious about that in Southern California. LLM 292.1

During the past two years I have tried to use whatever influence and prestige that went with the Conference Office, to get strong workers for the institutions, and, of course, I have gotten considerable funds, too. When these last Testimonies came, within the past few weeks, and especially the one that pointed it out as being a mistake for me to be connected with the Sanitarium work, I thought I ought to drop that work, and let someone else carry it; and yet we are very short of men. LLM 292.2

Sister White: It is not that you are not to be connected with the work, but that you are not to be connected with it to discourage. Brother Burden has enough to carry. He had to put up some improvements, we know. I do not know just how far Bro. Burden has gone in the matter of improving the property. But there is a kind of authority that you feel at liberty to use, that the Lord does not give you,—a kind of domineering, that is not in harmony with the Lord's work, and our relation one with another. I have felt that I ought to be very careful about presenting things, in order to prevent the exercise of a domineering power. This was so distinctly laid out before me, that I felt as if I must write you... LLM 292.3

W.C. White: As you expressed it to me the day you were writing about, it was a movement to get the work into a shape where two or three men could control all lines of work. LLM 292.4

Sister White: Yes; and I wrote them at once. LLM 292.5

G.W. Reaser: I was so perplexed over the situation in Southern California, that I thought best to come here to get right, and to get into perfect line. We want perfect harmony down there between the medical work and the Conference work, and the work will be crippled, unless we have it. I want to know what light there is for me, that I may relate myself just right to the work there, and overcome all objectionable traits. LLM 292.6

Sister White: Well, here is your danger—of considering that the whole responsibility of the Conference, the sanitarium work, and all other lines of work, rests upon you, to run them... I know that unless there is a change in your manner of carrying matters, a condition of things will come in that it will be very difficult to undo. You cannot afford it, nor can I afford it. In the matter of your raising the money for the school as you have done, you are thereby placed in a relation before that Conference, where they think certainly that you are the man that can carry things through. But the Lord did not mean that it should go in that way. He had provided these books, He had given me the privilege of dedicating those books to the schools and to the sanitariums. Then He desired that every soul should come in and act a part in making the most of that gift. Every one should learn how to handle these books, and if each one does this, rich experiences will be gained, and blessings will fall upon the workers. LLM 292.7

G.W. Reaser: One more question, and then perhaps I ought not to tax your strength further this evening; and that is this: It seemed to us, with our many medical institutions in Southern California, that there ought to be perfect understanding, perfect accord, between the Conference and the medical workers. LLM 293.1

Sister White: Certainly there ought. LLM 293.2

G.W. Reaser: And the question is, should I, as Conference President, be in any way officially connected with the Sanitariums, and use the prestige of the Conference and the influence of the Conference to gather workers, as strong workers as we can, to the work, and to get money? Now, those things have been in my mind, whether I ought to drop that line, and give attention to what we call purely conference work, or whether I ought to keep on. LLM 293.3

Sister White: Well, I can not tell you. This is what I was saying: In the visions of the night, in a meeting, I said: “Brother Reaser, why did not you feel an interest in that sanitarium, to create a fund so that it should not have so large a debt? Which was of the greatest consequence,—was it of the greatest consequence to take up that school, in which the parents and so many friends were interested and could all exert an influence,—which was of the greatest consequence?” Thus I was talking right to you in the meeting. “Now,” said I, “which is of the greatest consequence, Brother Reaser? Is it a sanitarium that is to stand as a constant voice and influence, that shall bring in all classes of minds, and all kinds of persons, some in poverty and some with influence? Or is it a school?” I thought, Brother Burden, you were present also... LLM 293.4

We have been altogether too delicate, in our sanitariums, never to call upon men of means, and ask them for a donation. There are wealthy men outside of the institution, who would help. Tell them that we are in a strait place, and we want help. We have to fit up the place at Loma Linda, because, when we bought the property we had everything that was wanted but the very thing that was most wanted. The very thing that was wanted the most, was treatment-rooms. We had to have more room, and appliances with which to carry on the work. Those who sold you the sanitarium, did not really know what was needed the most for the successful operation of a sanitarium... LLM 293.5

J.A. Burden: Now may I state what Brother Reaser has referred to? I have felt this way: I would like to stand shoulder to shoulder with Brother Reaser, carrying what I can in the medical line; but I feel that to make a perfect unit, he, as President of the Conference, should use his office to encourage the medical people, to associate with the medical people, encourage people to help in the work, and they would then feel that the Conference was morally and financially interested. And it would seem as if the sanitarium was a part of the Conference work. LLM 293.6

Sister White: If, in the beginning, he had taken hold of those things that were of such large consequence and far-reaching importance to the community all around there; if he had done all he could do to help set that sanitarium in working order, it would have been more in harmony with the ideas that God has given me, than is the course that has been pursued. The sanitarium work at Loma Linda must stand among things of first importance. The sanitarium work is that which is going to bring in and reach the highest class of people everywhere... LLM 294.1

J.A. Burden: Then if he can see that situation, and can feel to throw his influence that way, would you see any objection to his being on the Board with us? LLM 294.2

Sister White: Why, no, you need to counsel together, just as brethren need to counsel together, but not in an authoritative way. LLM 294.3

G.W. Reaser: No; that is right. LLM 294.4

Sister White: Now here is a thought—if I can get it out so you can understand it: There is all the difference in the world between a school where they are educating students, and a sanitarium that is to reach the highest classes, and that must show a prosperity in the work; for God has selected that place for us, and as He has selected it, we must harmonize with Him, and take right hold, and work for its prosperity; and yet we must guard everything so as not to have an unnecessary outlay of means. LLM 294.5

There is a point I desire to mention before I forget it; I want to bring it out before you both, as it is this: We shall have to take a position in regard to the health food business. They are gathering in, and have gathered in, some of the very persons that are wanted to work in the cause of God. They very persons that should take hold and unite with us and become missionaries, are now bound up in the manufacture of foods; and what do they gain? How many are they converting? How many are receiving the truths of the third angel's message? Now the light that I have from God, is that, we must not encourage our people to make too much of the business of manufacturing foods; we must not do it; because it is taking, in some instances, the very flower of our youth to keep up an appearance in an establishment for the manufacture of food to set upon many tables, to feed worldlings—and how much do they gain by it? LLM 294.6

W.C. White: As that is presented to you, do you see the factory and the workers in the factory, or the workers that have gone out to sell the foods, or the workers in the Restaurant? LLM 294.7

Sister White: It is the whole business; it relates to the whole; some of the very persons that we ought to have in the work, as Bible missionaries, are doing a work that does not bring souls to an acquaintance with soul-saving truth. LLM 294.8

J.A. Burden: But the simple method that you have outlined for a small plant, in connection with our institutions, to make foods for our institution, and the surrounding neighborhood—do you refer to that? LLM 294.9

Sister White: No: you want to educate the neighbors in health reform; you want the Sanitarium workers to have a proper education also. There are foods, you know, that the people are ignorant about, and they ought to be educated. Many can hardly make a good loaf of bread. But to enter into the business of manufacturing largely, is not best—only for cities or settlements around where you want your influence to tell, where you want them to see what good cookery is, etc... LLM 295.1

The people would learn much regarding health reform, if “Ministry of Healing” were circulated widely. You can have the “Object Lessons” to use in relief work for the school, right where you are, and also the “Ministry of Healing” as a help for the sanitariums. There is to be no bondage, no territorial lines drawn, in this matter of trying to place these institutions at Loma Linda on vantage-ground. LLM 295.2

J.A. Burden: If the brethren can all see light in the right, it is wonderful what will come. But when some are lifting up and others are pushing down, it goes hard. LLM 295.3

Sister White: Well, that is the devil's work. He came to Christ, while the Saviour was fasting. The enemy thought that if he could take advantage of Him in His weakness, he would obtain a wonderful victory. But Christ answered him in the words of Scripture. LLM 295.4

J.A. Burden: It throws our people into an uncertainty when our leading brethren represent, Sister White, that some one has come and talked with you; that is the influence that comes in. LLM 295.5

Sister White: Well, it shows that they do not have much confidence in the work that God has given me to do. LLM 295.6

J.A. Burden: In Loma Linda, and elsewhere, there are some who feel that some of the things you wrote back from Washington, two years ago, about the necessity of securing Loma Linda, were inspired by an interview that I had with you on the train as you were passing through, en route to the Conference. LLM 295.7

Sister White: I wondered that you did not write more to me; but I knew how it was, and I feel that we should move intelligently, so that God can accept our work. The work at Loma Linda is to be carried on a high religious plane. LLM 295.8

Ellen G. White

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