Manuscript Releases, vol. 15 [Nos. 1136-1185]


MR No. 1184—Building a Meetinghouse at Avondale; How to Make Camp Meetings Productive; Nathaniel Davis and Demon Possession

(Written August 31, 1897, from “Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, NSW, to A. G. Daniells.)

I have greatly desired to write to you, but have been very much hindered by the many things that are pressing in upon us just now. The building of the chapel has been one of the important matters. We saw the necessity of having this building, and night after night the message came to me, “Arise and build; Now is the time to arise and build.” The whole church was awake upon this point, and the whole school enthusiastic over it. The room we now occupy cannot be ventilated without opening windows, thus exposing someone to the risk of taking cold. There were those who would sit through the discourse, and for want of air would sleep. 15MR 338.1

I have no time to dwell long on this part of the subject that has required much thought and much prayer. We thought the thing could be accomplished, and we have undertaken the matter. The foundation will be laid today, and then the work will progress as fast as possible. If the Lord's blessing rests upon the planners and workers, the building will be ready for dedication within five or six weeks. Then the delegates can be accommodated in the house built for the Lord. 15MR 338.2

Should there be any lack of means for this work, before we receive the donations we expect, means from the school fund must be appropriated. This money was solicited with the statement that it was for the erection of school buildings and a chapel in which to worship the Lord in a proper manner. I should have no hesitancy in appropriating money for the church from this fund that has been so long in the Echo office, and a portion of which is still in Battle Creek. 15MR 338.3

We may receive sufficient for the meetinghouse without touching the fund that we wish to use for the main school building. But I am calculating only for a time of emergency and dearth of means. I know that Brother Haskell is not in a condition to do much in the money line. I should have money to return to him, for he loaned me $1,000 to be used in the Australian Mission until he should need it to invest in a home for himself. Since that, he has loaned me $300 more, and just before coming to Australia he furnished $300 more. All this has been invested in the cause of which I am made steward. 15MR 339.1

Brother Haskell said that you asked him what he would do. Now, in consideration of what he has done, I would not say anything to him on this point. It would be out of place when others who are situated where they could do equally with him, cannot show that they have done as much. It is not best to urge him. 15MR 339.2

He is strangely situated. For some reason he has not received his money for labor during the year 1896, and he is not in a situation to do much, if anything, unless he draws from me the money I have invested in various ways to advance the work here in Australia. He will not place me in trying circumstances in order to raise the money and return it to him unless he is compelled to do so. 15MR 339.3

I shall return to him the money invested in Australia just as soon as means come in to me from my book. Then the gifts will have come from me, and not from him. The money was given by him to be used until he called for it. Every dollar of personal donation in my own behalf, I have invested in meetinghouses and in advancing the work in different lines. I have invested no less than $500 that have been sent to me as a personal donation to be used for myself. Not one dollar of it have I used for my own personal interest. 15MR 339.4

Now a few words in regard to camp meetings. I thought we were assembled for consultation as to the best way to do in reference to our camp meeting in Sydney. One listened to the counsels given in reference to making large efforts previous to the meeting, and the propriety of being at a heavy expense to distribute notices and papers before the camp meeting. Preparations were being made to do this when One who is wise in counsel made remarks which I cannot now repeat but which convicted all minds. He said, “Set your tents, commence your meeting, then advertise, and more will be accomplished.” 15MR 340.1

I understand that Brother Baker will send you a copy of that which I sent him. I gave directions to have a copy sent to you, and you must have it ere this. The word spoken was, It is not the best plan to follow one line of efforts year after year. Change the order of things. Satan is prepared, when you give him time and opportunity, to rally his forces, and he will work to destroy every soul possible. It is best to change the order you are devising. Do much more work after the meeting. Follow up the interest then rather than before. The spoken truth will have much greater influence than papers containing articles in vindication of the truth. But both combined will have greater force. 15MR 340.2

In consideration of that which I have already written, I will not dwell longer on this point, but will speak on another subject in reference to our meeting. If, after the meeting has commenced, a press could be secured to be worked during the meeting, preparing leaflets, notices, and papers to be distributed, it would be as a living thing in their very midst. But to do that which was done at previous camp meetings in Sydney will not answer the purpose now, or have similar results. 15MR 341.1

Great efforts are to be made. Every soul that believes the truth is to stand in his lot and place, saying, “Here I am; send me.” Our camp meetings in Sydney and Melbourne must not show a dearth of laborers. There should be far more personal effort made in practical lines to reach souls. 15MR 341.2

Brother Baker has visited us, and he has received the impression that ministers such as Elder Farnsworth and others coming to the union conference in Sydney must hasten back to their fields of labor to carry on the work in their special conferences. This is not wise calculation. Our ministering brethren are at great expense in coming, and should work together to have the camp meeting thoroughly manned with efficient workers. One or two must not do all the preaching and all the teaching in Bible lines. At times greater good can be accomplished by breaking up the large congregation into sections. Thus the educator in Bible truths can come closer to the people than in a larger assembly. 15MR 341.3

Oh, that God would help in this crisis of our work, is my daily prayer. In Sydney, after the camp meeting is over, there should be the most discreet workers. Wise men should be left in charge to do personal work. Strength should not be wasted in the coming meeting by stretching them into the night and exhausting the vitality of the ministerial workers. They are thus left shorn of spiritual and physical vitality. 15MR 341.4

If men will walk with God, He will hide them in the cleft of the Rock. Thus hidden they can see God in the way that Moses saw Him. With the presence and the light that God gives, they can comprehend more than they have deemed it possible to do. In walking with God and not with self, they will endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. All our workers have too slight a hold on God and eternal realities. The ministerial force in all our camp meetings must be as strong as possible. Preparations must be made for them to leave their fields of labor, if possible in safe hands, with those who will leave the work of preaching, and will labor from house to house as missionaries. In God many can do valiantly, and receive for their labor returns the richness of which will surprise them. God now calls for workers not only for the work of preaching but in coming close to individual souls, thus revealing an aptitude to watch for souls as they that must give account. 15MR 342.1

It is not in the order of God for ministers to come to the Sydney camp meeting and then return to their fields of labor. We must receive decided strength from God to engage in the work that is to be done. We must not let self swell to large proportions. We must consider the words of Christ, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” 15MR 342.2

Brother Baker read to us Brother Palmer's proposition to come to Cooranbong to hold a canvassing institute. But this is not a favorable time. The meetinghouse, if it is finished, will require all our thought and all our time. The students have all they can carry in their program of study and work, and Brother Palmer would be disappointed in the work he wishes to see accomplished. Those who attend camp meeting will have to work most earnestly, preparing to move to the point of interest in Sydney. The people here will have all they can possibly do to prepare for the meeting. Therefore this would not be a favorable time for Brother Palmer's efforts to tell to the best account. Those in his class could not retain the instruction they would need to have. On the campground he can have his class, which will embrace more than those in the school who wish to enter the canvassing field. Many more will be benefited by having the class in Sydney than here. 15MR 342.3

I wish to guard against laboring in a rush when there is little chance of doing the work to the best possible advantage. I can write only briefly on these points. We would enjoy nothing better than to have Brother Palmer come up here to labor in the line he proposes, but it would not be best under the circumstances. He would not be satisfied himself, and those he would teach are not prepared just at the close of the school for this work. 15MR 343.1

Brother Daniells, I wrote you a few lines in reference to Brother Davis. Evil angels are all about him, and at times have control of him in a strange, revolting way. I did not mean to speak of this to anyone, but I have the word from the Lord that he is possessed of an evil spirit and “has no power from the snare to go.” His case is like the cases of ancient times. At times, he thinks, speaks, and acts under the influence of satanic agencies, and does revolting things. This casts him into despair. His only hope is to present his case before his brethren who have a living connection with God. The spell will be broken only by most earnest wrestling with God, and this I present to you. Why I spoke of his remaining in Sydney was that he could be in connection with those that could help him during the camp meeting. As soon as possible, this demon-tempter's power must be broken. The more Brother Davis is pressed into the work of God with those that are connected with God, the less power Satan will have over him. But Satan must be rebuked as in olden time, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This in faith we must ask the Lord to do, and He will fulfill His word. The Lord will hear prayer. Brother Davis’ connection [with] spirits, his experience in theosophy, is his curse. Labor we must to have the man dispossessed. 15MR 343.2

I can write no more on this line. The mail goes now.—Letter 39, 1897. 15MR 344.1

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 10, 1986.

Entire letter.