Messenger of the Lord


Establishing Educational and Medical Institutions

Health reform institute. Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, the denomination’s first health institution, was a direct response to Ellen White’s urging as she communicated the light given her. Reporting the Rochester, New York, vision, December 25, 1865, among many other health principles and admonitions, she advocated a health institution with two objectives: (1) for the benefit of the diseased and suffering among Adventists who needed the added advantages that could not be found “in a popular water cure“: and (2) for “the means of bringing our views before many whom it would be impossible for us to reach by the common course of advocating the truth.” 43 MOL 189.2

The prospect of establishing a medical institution in the mid-1860s seemed daunting, perhaps impossible, from a human point of view. But J. N. Loughborough, president of the Michigan Conference, gathered together his committee leaders and said: “We will pledge to the enterprise, venturing out on what is said in the testimony, though it looks to us like a heavy load for us to hold up.” 44 MOL 189.3

Four months later, Uriah Smith, editor of the Review and Herald, wrote about this struggling infant: “We have only to look back ... four short months. Now we behold an elegant site secured, buildings ready for operation ... and operations actually commenced. In no enterprise ever undertaken by this people has the hand of the Lord been more evidently manifested than in this thing.” 45 MOL 189.4

Other medical institutions owe their existence to Ellen White’s visionary insight, courage, and personal sacrifice. In 1902 she wrote to the General Conference president: “Constantly the Lord is keeping southern California before me as a place where we must establish medical institutions.... Sanitariums must be established in this section of the State.” A few days later she said: “For months the Lord has given me instruction that He is preparing the way for our people to obtain possession, at little cost, of properties on which there are buildings that can be utilized in our work.” 46 MOL 189.5

Paradise Valley Sanitarium. Ellen White borrowed $2,000 from a bank (in 1904) and encouraged Mrs. Josephine Gotzian to donate $2,000 so that the Paradise Valley Sanitarium property could be bought—in spite of understandable reluctance on the part of conference leadership—on property that had cost the original owners $25,000. 47 MOL 189.6

Glendale Sanitarium. As soon as Paradise Valley Sanitarium had been secured, Mrs. White urged leadership to find property for a sanitarium “near Los Angeles.” Under her prodding a search was made in the Los Angeles suburbs. In Glendale a desirable property worth $60,000 was bought for $12,500. 48 MOL 189.7

Loma Linda Sanitarium. The church leadership thought that surely they had fulfilled their responsibilities as they struggled to develop the Paradise Valley and Glendale sanitariums. But Ellen White was not finished. She had been instructed that the Redlands-Riverside area was pointed out as a place where the next sanitarium should be located—and soon. She told the conference leadership that they “could find it if they wanted to.” 49 MOL 189.8

When the description of the Loma Linda resort hotel was presented to her while she was attending the 1905 General Conference session in Washington, D. C., she replied that the place answered in every particular to the instruction seen in vision. Great was the tension regarding the necessary finances; the local conference was heavily in debt, chiefly because of the recent acquisitions urged by Ellen White! But time was of the essence. Mrs. White sent a telegram to faithful John Burden: “Secure the property!” The events of the next few months in finding the necessary funds to complete the sale and the rapid development of the medical educational center at Loma Linda provide reason for amazement and gratitude. The final purchase price was $38,900 on an initial investment of more than $150,000 by the original owners. Except for divine guidance through His messenger from Elmshaven, Loma Linda University would not exist today. 50 MOL 190.1

Avondale College. The establishment of Avondale College by fewer than 1,000 believers in the 1890s, during one of Australia’s worst economic depressions, is one more awesome example of the success that comes by following the counsel of God’s messenger. Less than four months after Ellen White arrived in Australia, and with her urging, church leadership voted in December 1891 “that it is our duty to take immediate steps toward the establishment of a school in Australia.” 51 MOL 190.2

In 1893 the search committee located a 1,450-acre site seventy-five miles north of Sydney, near Cooranbong. Though the land was very cheap, church leadership felt that it would not support a farm, a conviction endorsed by the state agricultural service. Ellen White remained unmoved while others vacillated. To show her faith in the Lord’s guidance, she borrowed $5,000 so that building materials could be bought. MOL 190.3

For years, Avondale College was considered by many to be closer to the educational principles set forth by Ellen White than any other denominational school. It became a showcase for the benefits of a work-study program; the value of school industries as a source for student labor as well as for cash-flow to help the budget; the benefit to student, school, and community of student-sponsored community welfare activities, projects that reduced the need for extensive sports programs; the long-term investment in young people who would become denominational workers, and, above all else, a demonstration school for the common sense practicality of Ellen White’s counsels on education. MOL 190.4

Avondale College, after several other colleges had been established in America, was actually a new start in Adventist education. It developed relatively free from the conventional educational wisdom that influenced the American colleges. In 1897, Ellen White reflected on Avondale as “the best school in every respect that we have ever seen, outside our people, or among Seventh-day Adventists.” 52 MOL 190.5