Lt 90, 1899

1899

Lt 90, 1899

Ballenger, A. F.

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

June 5, 1899

See variant Lt 90a, 1899. Portions of this letter are published in SWk 83-87; 11MR 48.

Dear Brother:

I remember your distinctly, and I have rejoiced to see you growing in grace and working in the Lord’s vineyard. I would say, my brother, you would best stand at your post of duty, laboring in the ministry of the Word. Lt90-1899.1

As you say, there is no more fruitful field than the South. It is the prejudice of the whites against the black race that makes this field hard, very hard. The whites who have oppressed the colored people still have the same spirit. They did not lose it, although they were conquered in war. They are determined to make it appear that the blacks were better off in slavery than since they were set free. Any provocation from the blacks is met with the greatest cruelty. The field is one that needs to be worked with the greatest discretion. Lt90-1899.2

Any mingling of white people with the colored people, as in sleeping in their houses or showing them friendship as would be shown by the whites to those of their own color, is exasperating to the white people of the South. Yet these same persons employ colored women to nurse their children; and further, not a few white men have had children by colored women. Thus the colored people have received an education from the whites in immorality, and many of them stand ready to treat the whites as the whites have treated them. The relation of the two races has been a matter hard to deal with, and I fear that it will ever remain a most perplexing problem. Lt90-1899.3

You speak of a way of helping the colored race in a way which does not excite the prejudice of the white Southern-born citizens—that is, the industrial school. As you have presented, the greatest caution needs to be exercised in regard to politics. Some persons are of such a temperament that they would make trouble by want of proper consideration. Words dropped unadvisedly would be like a spark, kindling a flame of intense jealousy and dangerous opposition. Whoever works in the South needs to be sanctified in body, soul, and spirit. Then there will be wise words, not words spoken at random of without duly weighing every expression. Lt90-1899.4

It is from the whites that the greatest opposition may be expected. This is the quarter that you may need to watch. The white people are prejudiced against the doctrines taught by the Seventh-day Adventists, and a religious opposition is the greatest difficulty. The white people will stir up the blacks by telling them all kinds of stories; and the blacks, who can lie even when it is for their interest to speak the truth, will stir up the whites with falsehoods. And the whites who want an occasion will seize upon any pretext for taking revenge, even upon those of their own color who are presenting the truth. This is the danger. As far as possible, everything that will stir up the race prejudice of the white people should be avoided. There is danger of closing the door, so that our white laborers will not be able to work in some places in the South. Lt90-1899.5

All that you have written in regard to the great necessity of the colored people is correct. I have seen that those who know the truth for this time have a special work to take up for this people. Christ came to our world, clothing His divinity with humanity, that He might work with humanity, fallen, degraded, corrupted. He came of poor parentage, and lived the life of a poor man. He was accustomed to privation. As a member of the family, He acted His part in laboring with His hands for the support of His mother and His brothers and sisters. Thus He, the Majesty of heaven, was not to appear as honoring the greatest men because of their wealth. He has forever removed from poverty the disgrace which attaches to it because it is destitute of worldly advantages. He says, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” [Matthew 8:20.] Lt90-1899.6

Four thousand years before, a voice of strange and mysterious import was heard in heaven from the throne of God: “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared me; in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Yea, thy law is within my heart.” [Hebrews 10:5-7; Psalm 40:6-8.] Christ in counsel with His Father, laid out the plan for His life on earth. It was not a chance, but a design that the world’s Redeemer should lay off His crown, lay aside His kingly robe, and come to our world as a man. He clothes His divinity with the garb of humanity, that He might stand at the head of the human family, His humanity mingled with the humanity of the race fallen because of Adam’s disobedience. Lt90-1899.7

The poverty and humiliation of the Son of the infinite God teach lessons that few care to learn. There is a link that connects Christ with the poor in a special sense. He, the Life, the Light of the world, makes poverty His own teacher, in order that [He] may be educated by the same stern, practical teacher [as are the poor]. Since the Lord Jesus accepted a life of poverty, no one can justly look with contempt upon the poor. The Saviour of the world was the King of glory, and He stripped Himself of His glorious outward adorning, accepting poverty, that He might understand how the poor are treated in this world. He was afflicted in all the afflictions of the human family, and He pronounces His blessing, not upon the rich, but upon the poor of this world. Lt90-1899.8

You speak of the Oakwood Industrial School for colored students as not having sufficient buildings to accommodate the students, twelve in number occupying one room. My brother, is it not the duty of someone laboring in this line to labor for the creation of a fund to supply this need? Appeal to our people. Let each give a little, even among the poor. Without delay, plan to erect a humble building large enough to accommodate the students. To have boys and girls thus crowded together must make the teacher’s work very difficult. Ask for help, presenting this matter as though you meant it. Ask the people to heed the words of Christ, “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Mark 8:34.] The example of Christ is for our imitation. <The plan of teaching agriculture to the colored people is a good one.> Lt90-1899.9

If you can, get the colored people interested, and show them how to work. If you can secure a man who is fitted to become an intelligent director, such a school as you propose would be a great blessing to the colored race. In putting up these buildings, the workers will form habits of industry, and will learn how to erect dwelling houses for themselves and for others. This will be one of the best lessons that could be taught them. I shall be glad if by your counsel you can set in operation a work that needs to be done. But to take hold of this work yourself would not be wise. You have not the necessary qualification for a businessman. You are not adapted for financiering. Lt90-1899.10

Every intelligent being may improve in capability, in virtue, and knowledge, by living on the plan of addition as presented in the first chapter of Second Peter. There is work for you in the Master’s vineyard to which you are better adapted than to that of a business manager. To every man is given his work. The varied talents are proportionate to our varied capabilities. God is the Giver of these talents, and He bestows them according to our known powers, hereditary and cultivated, and He expects corresponding returns. Some have been educated and trained so that they are better fitted to use their talents in certain parts of their Lord’s vineyard than in other parts: but God’s family of workers, from the lowliest and most obscure who can work in humble lines, to the highest and most capable, who can do the most responsible work in the church, all have talents to be employed. Lt90-1899.11

To take an evangelist out of the field in order to bear the responsibilities you speak of would not be wise. You would not be a success. You could not make the little means go the longest way. There would be constant danger of making plans that would not carry. You would see success where aftersight would show failure. It would reveal that you have not the gift of economizing almost to stinginess for the working out of your plans. But this must certainly be done by the workers who shall take up that work in the South. There are men who have been forced into the school of severe economy, and they have learned the art of economizing so closely that there shall be no waste of time, or labor, or of money. This lesson has not yet, under stern necessity, been learned by you. Lt90-1899.12

There is a day of trust and a day of reckoning. The proceedings during our probationary test must all pass under the scrutiny of the great Judge. We are justified by faith, but judged by works, and we are never to belittle the smallest gift. By diligent trading on the talents entrusted, you have in spiritual service increased your capital of talents. Your work is appointed you by God. Ministry as an evangelist is your calling, and in no case should you trifle with your moral responsibilities. You need to guard carefully every avenue of the soul, lest self shall be woven into your work. Be watchful, pray much, study the Word, and then cut out of your life everything that would shut you from a complete experience in Christ Jesus. The bids you, “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” [Mark 14:38.] This is all I have time to write on this point. Lt90-1899.13

Let men who are wise calculators be called upon to plan and devise, but this is not your special work. All the advantages you enumerate in the second page of your letter reveal a field of work for some wise manager to enter upon. Let all the advantages possible be secured for the Southern Field. As shown in your letter, there are experienced gardeners who will work for the Lord in giving instruction in their lines. Another brother says he is an experienced stonemason, and will be glad to work for the Lord in building up an industrial school. Another brother, a farmer, has horses and machinery, which he will give to the enterprise, with himself and his faithful wife. Then there are offers of sawmills, a shingle mill, a logging outfit, a lathe mill, turning tools, blacksmith’s tools, carpenter’s tools, etc., and the owners give themselves to use their outfits. We thank the Lord for these talents. Here is certainly a good opening. Who will take up this responsible work? Lt90-1899.14

There are things I must now mention that should be guarded. If possible, keep out of such settlement in the South families with young children who would be likely to learn the habits of the Southern people. Staunch, solid men and women are needed, who should go forth as missionaries. If they have children, and it can be so arranged, let them be placed in school [in] the North. This will leave the father and mother free to take hold of the work. Two or three families should unite, and as quietly as possible seek to help in this missionary work of teaching the colored people to help themselves. Lt90-1899.15

As I read on page 6, you do not intend to work out this enterprise yourself. I am glad you feel thus. The rule you mention of keeping out of debt is the way to make the work a solid one. Lt90-1899.16

It will not be wise for many families to settle in the South in one place. Let only one or two families from abroad settle in any one location. Beware how you get families with children located in the South. These children have eyes to see and ears to hear and perception to take in what is heard in school. The lessons they learn may prove ruin to them, and their presence may bring danger to the enterprise. If they are left to associate with the colored people, stories will be started that will endanger the mission, the white children themselves will become demoralized, and the jealousy of the white Southern-born citizens will be awakened and will make it hard for those who are trying to help them. Lt90-1899.17

Those who have had an experience in the South know very well that nothing must be said or done to arouse surmising and prejudice among the white people. If in our missionary work the white families live away from the colored people, it will be the safest plan. I hope that this enterprise will work, but it is the workers that will be found most difficult to manage. I am fully in harmony with doing something, if you can, and doing it without delay. The work has been long neglected, but a great and good work can yet be done in the South. I cannot see but that you have talents already secured, if only a manager will be secured who will be a wise worker and planner. Lt90-1899.18

But to get many families to break up at once and go south to settle, would not be wise, especially if they have young children. There are those who would not be able to endure the Southern climate, and it would not be best to bring their families and property to the South until they had tested the matter. Lt90-1899.19

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” [James 1:5, 6.] Lt90-1899.20