Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6)


Chapter 2—Meeting the Payments on Loma Linda

Although official action had been taken by the constituency of the Southern California Conference to buy Loma Linda and operate a sanitarium, officers of the conference saw little light in following through. Of the attitude of the conference president, Ellen White wrote to Elder Burden on June 25, 1905: 6BIO 22.1

I hope that Brother—will move understandingly in reference to the sanitariums already in operation [Paradise Valley and Glendale] and also in regard to the new sanitarium [Loma Linda].... 6BIO 22.2

Do not be discouraged if in any wise there is some cutting across of your plans, and if you are somewhat hindered. But I hope that we shall never again have to meet the hindrance that we have met in the past because of the way in which things have been conducted in some lines in southern California. 6BIO 22.3

I have seen the hold-back principles followed, and I have seen the displeasure of the Lord because of this. If the same spirit is manifested, I shall not consent to keep silent as I have done.—Letter 161, 1905. 6BIO 22.4

But as the days came and went, there was the nagging question: Where would the $5,000 come from for the July 26 payment? 6BIO 22.5

Ellen White, in fulfillment of her promise, was endeavoring to raise money. But there were no immediate responses. One course seemed to offer the promise of relief—selling some of the land. It was proposed that thirty-eight acres could be retained for the sanitarium. The other thirty-eight could be sold in building lots. Some figured a large portion of the original investment of $40,000 could be raised in this way. Learning of this, Ellen White wrote to Burden on July 5: 6BIO 22.6

I learned that ------ has proposed to sell some of the land to help pay the standing debt. Tell me how the matter is now. Can you obtain a loan of money to raise the rest of the $5,000 [due July 26]? ... We must be sure and have every payment made in time.... 6BIO 23.1

I just thought to write you a few lines to assure you that not one foot of that land is to be sold to raise money. We will hire money at the bank rather than this shall be done.—Letter 161a, 1905. 6BIO 23.2

A week later Elder Burden, still manager of Glendale Sanitarium, wrote Sister White advising her that he had hoped to secure the needed money for the July 26 payment from a certain brother, but through unfortunate family circumstances the promise of this was being withdrawn. What is more, a Brother Parker, who had $4,000 invested in some other phase of the work (most likely Glendale Sanitarium), was calling for his money. 6BIO 23.3

“It only shows,” wrote Burden, “that the enemy is determined to hedge up the way if possible. I do not know where to look now with assurance for the money on time. Our committee will have a meeting tomorrow.”—J. A. Burden to EGW, July 12, 1905. 6BIO 23.4

Four days later Burden wrote, “Thus far we have nothing in sight or rather very little for the next payment.” And he continued, “There is an undercurrent at work which is seeking to turn money aside which we ought to have, and had really been promised to us.”—J. A. Burden to EGW, July 16, 1905. 6BIO 23.5

Finally in desperation he sought permission of the neighboring conference to the north to make some contacts there that might yield financial help, but he was informed that the securing of the Loma Linda property had been contrary to the advice of the Pacific Union Conference committee. No door was open in the north. 6BIO 23.6

As July 26 neared, Burden must have thought of a letter from Sister White written July 10: 6BIO 23.7

I want you to keep me posted about the money coming in with which to make the payments on the Loma Linda property. I am writing to different ones, asking them to help us at this time, and I think that we shall obtain means to make every payment.—Letter 197, 1905 (The Story of Our Health Message, 358, 359). 6BIO 23.8

Finally Wednesday, the fateful day, dawned with still no money in sight. If the payment was not available by 2:00 P.M. the property and the initial $5,000 payment would be lost. Would deliverance come, or would the enemy succeed in bringing defeat? A meeting of the conference committee had been called for that morning in Los Angeles at their new office on the second floor of 257 South Hill Street (Pacific Union Recorder, June 22, 1905). A heavy cloud of perplexity hung over the assembly. Some felt the circumstances justified the misgivings they had entertained from the start. Others, Elder Burden recounted, “remembered the clear words that had come through the Testimonies, and refused to concede there should be failure” (The Story of Our Health Message, 358). As they reached out for deliverance, someone suggested that the morning mail had not yet come and perhaps relief would come from that source. 6BIO 24.1

We turn to Elder Burden for the heartwarming story: 6BIO 24.2

“Soon after this the postman was heard coming up the stairs. He opened the door and delivered the mail. Among the letters was one bearing the postmark Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“The letter was opened, and it was found to contain a draft for $5,000, just the amount needed for the payment. 6BIO 24.3

“Needless to say, the feelings of those who had been critical were quickly changed. Eyes filled with tears, and one who had been especially critical was the first to break the silence. With trembling voice, he said, ‘It seems that the Lord is in this matter.’ ‘Surely He is,’ was the reply, ‘and He will carry it through to victory.’ The influence that filled the room that day hushed the spirit of criticism. It was as solemn as the judgment day.”— Ibid. 6BIO 24.4

Among those to whom Sister White had written appealing for funds was a woman in Atlantic City, and Elder Burden points out: 6BIO 24.5

“The Lord had put it into her heart to respond and to mail the letter just at the time when our faith had been tested almost to the limit, that it might be revived and strengthened. 6BIO 24.6

“Soon we were at the bank window to pay in the $5,000. As the receipt was taken from the counter, a voice seemed to say to us, ‘See how nearly you missed that payment. How are you going to meet the next one, within a month?’ In heart we answered, ‘It will surely come, even though we do not now know the source.’ We thanked God and took new courage in believing that the Lord was going before us.”—Ibid., 359. 6BIO 25.1

The Southern California Conference camp meeting was scheduled for August 11 to 21 in Los Angeles, where Evangelist W. W. Simpson's tent meetings were about to close. The big tent would be moved to Boyle Heights—an area that would become well known to Seventh-day Adventists a decade later, for the White Memorial Hospital was to be established there. The tent would be pitched on Mott Street, between First and Second (Pacific Union Recorder, July 27, 1905). The conference president announced that among those present would be “Sister White, Elders M. C. Wilcox, G. A. Irwin, J. O. Corliss, W. C. White, and G. W. Rine.” 6BIO 25.2

Ellen White was sure to meet this appointment, for with the markedly cool attitude of the president toward the Loma Linda project, the future of the institution still rested in the balance. She regarded the conference president “an excellent man,” but one who had “not had experience in dealing with minds” (Letter 237, 1905). 6BIO 25.3

The annual conference constituency meeting would be held in connection with the camp meeting, which made it a particularly crucial session. Writing of the experience a month later, W. C. White declared: 6BIO 25.4

We all saw that very much was at stake, and that much depended on how the sanitarium work was presented to our people at this meeting. We knew that there was sufficient means among our people in southern California to carry forward all the institutional work in that conference, but if they chose to keep it in the banks, to invest it in real estate, or to tie it up in farms, if they feared to trust it in our institutional work, then we should have great difficulty in securing funds. 6BIO 25.5

He continued: 6BIO 25.6

We knew there was a hard battle to fight at the Los Angeles camp meeting, a battle against indifference, distrust, fear, and selfishness, and we tried to make a thorough preparation.—28 WCW, p. 447.

Indeed, it was a thorough preparation that was made by Ellen White and her associates. It was planned that a series of lessons based on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy would be given, one each day during the camp meeting. The people must be made to see the importance of sanitarium work, and that in southern California special responsibilities rested on the Advent believers. To carry this through, some of the most telling Ellen G. White letters, together with related materials, were printed in tract form for distribution to every family. This accounts for the twenty-four-page Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 3, titled “Letters to Sanitarium Workers in Southern California.” But instead of day-by-day studies, the presentations were crowded, because of a delay in printing the materials, into one three-hour meeting well along in the conference. 6BIO 26.1

From day to day meetings of the conference business session were held. Ellen White seldom attended business meetings (as she wrote to her old friend Lucinda Hall, she thought that she was “old enough to be excused from such burdens [Letter 237, 1905]), but in this case she felt she should. Of this she said: 6BIO 26.2

In some of the business meetings, I sat on the platform, that I might have an understanding of the questions that came up for consideration by the conference. I feared lest some action might be taken that would in the future bring about confusion.—Letter 263, 1905. 6BIO 26.3

She wanted to sit where she “could hear the motions read” (Letter 237, 1905). At one point a resolution was introduced to “change the constitution in such a way that every church member might become a delegate to the conference meetings” (Letter 263, 1905). 6BIO 26.4

She reports on that meeting: 6BIO 26.5

When I saw that there was a likelihood of the motion being passed, I said, “Read that motion again, if you please.” It was read. Then I said, “Such a motion as that was made years ago, and the matter was distinctly opened before me.”—Letter 237, 1905.

She advised the congregation: 6BIO 27.1

Such a move should not be made hastily. The delegates to our conferences should be chosen men of wisdom and capability, men whom the Lord may use to prevent rash movements. God has men of appointment, whom He has fitted to judge righteously.—Letter 263, 1905.

Then, referring to light given in early years, she continued: 6BIO 27.2

It will be impossible for me to relate here all the instruction that was then given me, but I will say that the motion has never carried at any time, because it is not in harmony with the mind of the Lord.—Letter 237, 1905.

“The resolution,” she wrote, “was finally laid on the table.”—Letter 251, 1905. 6BIO 27.3

She spoke six times in the large tent, at times to a packed tent of 2,000. And while some speakers found it difficult to make themselves heard by so large a crowd, the Lord gave her “strength to speak so that all could hear” (Letter 241a, 1905). “The Lord greatly sustained me in my work at the camp meeting,” she wrote.—Letter 251, 1905. 6BIO 27.4

At the close of the three-hour meeting when the Loma Linda project was presented, the people began to testify to their confidence in the work, and to tell of the money they had in the bank, which they would lend to the enterprise. Others promised to sell property and to invest the proceeds in sanitarium enterprises. By one o'clock the blackboard showed the responses: 6BIO 27.5

Gifts subscribed on June 20$1,100
Gifts subscribed today$1,000
Money offered at moderate interest$14,000
Property consecrated to be sold and the proceeds invested in sanitarium work$16,350

—28 WCW, p. 449.

The tide was turned in overwhelming favor of the sanitarium enterprises. Loma Linda would have full support. 6BIO 27.6

This led the astonished conference president to comment in his report in the Pacific Union Recorder: 6BIO 27.7

This liberality on the part of a willing membership, few of whom are well off in this world's goods, ought to stimulate confidence in our own conference and perhaps inspire other conferences to raise funds to liquidate all indebtedness.—September 14, 1905. 6BIO 28.1

The August 26 payment of $5,000 was made on time, and a few days later the December 31 payment was also made. In fact, instead of taking three years to pay the second $20,000 of the purchase price, as allowed in the contract, it was taken care of within six months. 6BIO 28.2

Reports J. A. Burden, who was so close to the enterprise: 6BIO 28.3

The counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy had been confirmed. As we moved forward in faith, the Lord opened the way before us, and the money came from unexpected sources.—The Story of Our Health Message, 361.

A detailed account of God's continued providence in connection with Loma Linda cannot be included here. Fuller accounts are to be found in such works as The Story of Our Health Message, The Vision Bold, volume 3 of Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists, and the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. 6BIO 28.4

Ellen White went to Loma Linda following the Los Angeles camp meeting; there she spent two weeks resting and writing. She was delighted with developments, noting particularly the canning of 7,000 quarts of fruit by a Brother Hansen, including apricots, plums, prunes, and other fruit, and a large amount of jelly. 6BIO 28.5

While there she counted 109 Russian towels. She noted also the smaller linen towels, which she did not take time to count. She was “more and more pleased” with the place as she continued her inspection: feather pillows, excellent cotton mattresses, two hair mattresses, good Brussels carpets, thirty-five cotton and woolen blankets besides what was on the beds, about a dozen sofa cushions, washbowls of the most beautiful sort, and fine iron bedsteads (Letter 353, 1905). 6BIO 28.6

Before returning home she spent a week at the Paradise Valley Sanitarium. Here she was met by the Sanitarium automobile. “I enjoy very much riding in the automobile,” she reported.—Letter 263, 1905. She was pleased at developments there. 6BIO 28.7

By the first of October Elder and Mrs. Burden were residing at Loma Linda, and within days patients were coming. But pressed hard to meet the needs of an opening institution, the staff found it necessary to postpone the dedication. 6BIO 29.1