Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


Chapter 21—Work and Recreation in Switzerland

A time for reflection

There were a number of letters waiting for Ellen White when she returned to Basel on July 28, and she began at once to read them and write replies. This constant letter writing and manuscript preparation had always been a cause of weary lament to her husband, James White, who could never quite keep up with his indomitable wife. Her writing continued with even greater concentration after Elder White's death in 1881. EGWE 211.1

On Sunday morning, August 1, Elder Whitney came to share with her his concern for the work. They decided to conduct another series of early-morning meetings, “to arouse the workers.... to a deeper piety and a firmer faith” (Letter 105, 1886). EGWE 211.2

The Basel institution was much more than simply a publishing house. It was a school and a training center for workers. It would have been much cheaper, actually, to employ experienced non-Adventists to come in and do the printing. Pressmen, binders, and stereotypers could handle the work in all languages, and skillful translators, proofreaders, and business clerks could have been hired to handle individual languages. But what would their influence be? And what about the many Adventist young people who needed employment and experience? The leaders decided that even though it cost more, the long-term health of the work would be more vigorous if the publishing house provided training and employment for the church. EGWE 211.3

As the months passed, many young people were doing remarkably well with their trades, and also wanted to learn more about the Bible. Classes were established to study Bible history and doctrines and English grammar. These classes began at six-thirty in the morning, and now, on Tuesday, August 3, an extra feature was to be added: Mrs. White's spirited devotional talks every morning, bright and early, at five-thirty! EGWE 212.1

About two weeks into the meetings, Ellen White reported: EGWE 212.2

“I have been very earnestly at work here. We have been seeking to do everything in our power to educate the people here to understand what it means to be a Christian. We have been holding morning meetings the past week at half past five, lasting one hour. All who are connected with the office and all in the building attend these meetings. I talk to them about 30 minutes and then we have a social meeting. In the past two weeks I have spoken nine times; three times at length. EGWE 212.3

“I feel deeply that we must do everything in our power to educate the people to be Bible Christians. Not only must we show in our character the meekness and lowliness of Christ, but we must educate the people who profess present truth so that they will not be satisfied to merely have a nominal faith in the truth for this time but have that faith brought into their character as a sanctifying power.”—Letter 7a, 1886. EGWE 212.4

In a letter to her son Edson she commented that “our meetings are doing good. I wish there could be something of this kind every morning in the Review and Herald office” (Letter 105, 1886). And in another letter she said, “When we know that Satan will make special attacks upon the ones who are employed in our institutions, then special efforts must be made to lift up a standard against him by elevating the characters of those who are engaged in the work.”—Letter 106, 1886. EGWE 212.5