Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


Pressing Financial Needs in Basel

In the council meeting at ten-thirty that morning, Mrs. White listened intently to the discussions and recommendations. As attention began to focus on the pressing lack of funds, she could not refrain from sharing some of her own pioneer experiences. She recalled how her husband, James White, nearly crippled with rheumatism, cut cordwood for 24 cents a cord to make enough money to attend the first Sabbath conference in Connecticut. EGWE 73.5

He could not even sleep at night because the pain in his wrists was so great. She told how she had fainted to the floor with a sick child in her arms for want of simple food to eat. Then, after recounting several similar experiences, she recalled how only a few years before, when J. N. Andrews was just getting started with the mission in Europe, he had run out of funds. Mrs. White had taken a new silk dress that she had just received as a gift from a friend, and sold it for $50, forwarding the money to the hard-pressed Andrews. Then she spoke with feeling about the immediate needs of the Basel publishing house: EGWE 73.6

“Our treasury now is, I might say, about empty. In many places we have had very close financial pressure. A night or two ago I dreamed that I was pleading with God. I awoke myself pleading with God, presenting before Him our empty treasury, pleading with Him to send means to advance His own cause and work. I propose, brethren and sisters, that we present our empty treasury to God in living faith and ask Him to supply our needs.”—Manuscript 14, 1885. EGWE 74.1

Willie White, writing to the General Conference president the next day, was doing his best to make sure that their needs were known in Battle Creek, as well as in heaven! EGWE 74.2

“There is about $5,000 yet to pay on the building,” he moaned. “Bro. Whitney wrote you a statement of what would be needed, which you did not appear to understand, and answered by congratulating him that he did not need any more. Then he wrote trying to explain that there was $5,000 needed at once, and has just received the comforting reply that if he needed more money, to send for it, and you would try to raise it. We were dumbfounded, we are on the verge of bankruptcy, and what can we say to make the facts understood?—W. C. White letter to G. I. Butler, September 22, 1885. EGWE 74.3

At last the prayers and pleas of the European workers were answered. By October 6, the $5,000 had arrived. EGWE 74.4

Each day during the council, Mrs. White was not only writing in her diary but she was adding to a long letter to G. I. Butler. That afternoon, as she was writing, there was a knock at the door. It was Albert Vuilleumier.* The Swiss Conference had recommended that he be ordained, but he felt he should wait another year. Together he and Mrs. White talked about his experience, dating back to the time when he had accepted the message under Czechowski's preaching in 1867 and had become a charter member and elder of the first European Seventh-day Adventist church at Tramelan. EGWE 74.5

Vuilleumier asked also about presenting the Advent message in new fields. Should the Sabbath be introduced first? Mrs. White reviewed with him the counsel she had given earlier about beginning with practical godliness, devotion, and piety—subjects about which all Christians could agree. She must also have given him courage to accept ordination, because on the last evening of the council the brethren laid their hands upon him, setting him apart for the ministry. EGWE 75.1

On Tuesday morning, September 22, Ellen White gave one of her warmest and most inspiring talks on the subject of faith and trust in God. It was really a personal testimony: EGWE 75.2

“I feel so thankful this morning that we can commit the keeping of our souls to God as unto a faithful Creator. Sometimes the enemy presses me the hardest with his temptations and darkness when I am about to speak to the people. I have such a sense of weakness that it seems like an impossibility to stand before the congregation. But if I should give up to my feelings, and say that I could not speak, the enemy would gain the victory. I dare not do this. I move right forward, take my place in the desk, and say ‘Jesus, I hang my helpless soul on Thee; Thou will not suffer me to be brought to confusion,’ and the Lord gives me the victory.... EGWE 75.3

“Oh that I could impress upon all the importance of exercising faith moment by moment, and hour by hour!... If we believe in God, we are armed with the righteousness of Christ; we have taken hold of His strength.... We want to talk with our Saviour as though He were right by our side.”—Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 130-133. EGWE 75.4