A Place Called Oakwood

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2—So Well Begun

Place: Oakwood School, Huntsville, Alabama

April 29, 1909

I am glad to have an opportunity of speaking to this company of students. Some time I expect that this room will be filled, and that another room will be filled also. We expect to see a work done here that men will be proud to acknowledge. We are glad indeed to see so many present. PCO 7.1

This morning I will first read a few words from the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. PCO 7.2

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge?” Here the complaint comes not against themselves, but against God. Listen to the answer: “Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?” PCO 7.3

The Lord declares what is the fast that He chooses. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen?” He says, “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” PCO 7.4

This is the work we are trying to do, and the work we are setting before His people, God's people, as the work that should be done. Yes, Lord, we can say, we, Thy commandment-keeping people, are trying to do this work as fast as possible. PCO 7.5

We are endeavoring to bring the colored people to that place where they can be self-supporting. The time will come when you will be able to escape many of the evils that will come upon the world because you have obtained a correct knowledge of how to plant and to build, and how to carry on various enterprises. This is why we want this land occupied and cultivated, why we want buildings put up. The students are to learn how to plant and to build and to sow. As they learn to do this, they will see a work before them which they will be very glad to have a part in. Opportunities will present themselves by which they can make themselves a blessing to those around them. PCO 7.6

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” It is the privilege of every student and worker upon this school land to know what it is to be moved by the impulse of the Spirit of God. PCO 7.7

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” Why this assurance regarding the health? Health is given because you learn to use your muscles as well as your brain powers. It is very important that we tax our physical and mental powers equally. “Thy righteousness shall go before thee,” the Lord continues, “and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.” How will our righteousness go before us? It will be revealed in righteous words, in righteous actions, in our useful employments. This work is given to the colored people as surely as it is given to the white people. According to their opportunities they are to work out faithfully the problems that God presents to them. When we do the work that God requires of us, the blessings He has promised will attend us. PCO 8.1

If we will do justice, if we will exalt the truth, the Lord Himself will be our Keeper and our Preserver, enabling us to do His will. God takes care of those who are looked down upon by their fellow men. It is because He regards the needs of those who are despised and rejected that we have this school farm where you can receive a preparation for labor right here in the South. It is His desire that those who receive a training here shall go forth to labor to lift up the oppressed, to strengthen the weak hands, that through your efforts men and women may learn to honor and glorify God. The teaching of this fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah means just this to you. PCO 8.2

I am glad of this opportunity of saying these few words to you. Let everything you do be done in faith. Believe that the Lord will surely fulfill His promises. He wants us to take comfort in His word; He wants us to be consoled by His promises; He longs to see the righteousness of the Lord go before us and the glory of God be our rereward. I see great possibilities for this experience to come to the students in this school. You have great advantages here. You are shut away from the world at large, away from the carousing and the amusements and the confusion. You do not need these things. You need to be where you can be free to serve the Lord conscientiously. He does not cast you off because of your color. The Lord wants the white people to help the colored people. If they will encourage them, and open ways for them, the blessing of the Lord will surely come upon them, as it comes to those whom they are trying to help. This will be a working out of God's plan. PCO 8.3

It is the privilege of each student here to know that the Most High has a care for you. He will watch over you for good, and not for evil. If you follow on to know the Lord, you will know His going forth is prepared as the morning. You will increase continually in light and knowledge. I want to see the goodness and mercy of God revealed in this place. We will pray for you; we will do all we can to help you; we will send you publications that you can read and study. I want to meet you each in the kingdom of God. Let us fight the battles of the Lord manfully and righteously, that we may see in the city of God the faces we look upon here today. Let us educate and train the younger members of the Lord's family. They are to stand firmly with God's people. PCO 8.4

I need not say any more this morning. I am very thankful that I could visit your school. For years I have done what I could to help the colored people, and I have never found the work so well begun in any place as I find it here at the present time. In all your experiences, remember that angels of God are beside you. They know what you do; they are present to guard you. Do not do anything to displease them. As you work and they work, this school will become consecrated ground. I shall want to hear how you succeed. All heaven is interested in the moves you are making. Let us do our utmost to help one another to obtain the victory. Let us so live that the light of heaven can shine into our hearts and minds, enabling us to grasp the treasures of heaven. May God help you, is my prayer. PCO 8.5

Sources: Manuscript 27, 1909, pp. 1-5; Manuscript Releases 2:82-85; Southern Field Echo, June 1, 1909