Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


An Unwise Interruption

The counsel Sister White gave was kind, it was practical, and there were no doubt many present to whom the straightforward message had personal application. But D. T. Bourdeau was offended. He jumped to his feet, claiming that the sermon had been directed at him personally. Then he proceeded to try to vindicate himself. Had he remained silent, many of the people at the council would probably have been none the wiser about the whole affair. EGWE 79.2

“I had, during the meeting, spoken upon general principles,” Mrs. White explained to G. I. Butler. “Now I had overturned his imaginary castle that he was building, and he acted as though he had received his death blow.”—Letter 23, 1885. EGWE 79.3

The council continued, but Bourdeau did not attend the meetings. He began to pack his belongings in order to leave the next morning—for where? He probably didn't know himself. He was an unhappy man. EGWE 79.4

Meanwhile Thursday's council proceeded with fresh questions before the session, e.g. “Why do the Italian and Romanian papers receive so few subscribers?” and “How shall we reach the traveling public in England?” The question of Adventist schools and Christian education for Adventist young people was also discussed. Since public school was compulsory six days a week in Switzerland, several Adventists had been fined for keeping their children home on the Sabbath day, and some had even been imprisoned. It was voted to prepare a petition to the proper government authorities, as well as to form a committee to organize a church school at Basel. EGWE 79.5

But Ellen White's diary is filled at this point with her concern for Daniel Bourdeau. How could she reach him and help him? She went to the morning meeting on Friday with a heavy heart. “My soul seemed in an agony as I prayed to God for Him to work. I knew our case was urgent.”—Ibid. Her study was on the subject of the book of life. Doubtless she was praying that Bourdeau's case in the judgment would be settled on the credit side of the ledger. But when Daniel Bourdeau did not show up at the meeting she was worried. She wrote in her diary that Daniel had been “taking counsel with Daniel and the adversary of souls.” EGWE 80.1

Well, the meeting was profitable, and many benefited from her appeal: EGWE 80.2

“Oh that the power of God may rest upon us before we separate for our homes and fields of labor! Oh that we may consider the importance of improving every day that we may have a good record in heaven!... EGWE 80.3

“When our hearts are all aglow with the love for Jesus and the souls for whom He died, success will attend our labors. My heart cries out after the living God. I want a closer connection with Him. I want to realize His strengthening power, that I may do more effective work in His cause.”—Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 139-140. EGWE 80.4

Mrs. White returned to her room with the burden of prayer heavy upon her heart. She pleaded with God for Daniel, and she felt urged to speak to him again. As she paced the floor of her room in great “agony of mind” she kept saying to herself, “I cannot talk with him; I cannot meet his defiant, stubborn spirit.” But she knew she must, so she sent for him and his wife, Marion, to come to her room along with his brother, A. C. Bourdeau, and Elders Whitney, Lane, and White. EGWE 80.5

Mrs. White began to talk directly to Daniel. He interrupted, saying he would rather see her alone because of the things he had suffered from his brethren in the past. Mrs. White asked him courteously to be silent, and as he quieted, she gave him “such a message as I wish never to speak again to mortal man” (Letter 23, 1885). Here was the messenger of God engaged in her most difficult task. EGWE 80.6

She saw his experience as a life-and-death struggle. He was indeed a tempted and tried soul, but she could not conscientiously forbear to warn him of his danger. He had complained that Ellen White “hit” him with her sermon on Thursday morning, but she reminded him that he had stood where he could be hit easily: EGWE 81.1

“The arrows of the Almighty must wound you so sorely that you will feel that you need a physician. ‘I have torn,’ saith God,’ and I will heal; I have smitten and I will bind you up.’ When you come, meek and lowly, then Jesus will pardon your transgressions. I charge you not to leave this house till the power of the enemy is broken.”—Letter 23, 1885. EGWE 81.2

When she concluded her soul-burdened appeal, all of the workers knelt in prayer. EGWE 81.3

“My soul was drawn out in an agony for Daniel Bourdeau. He prayed for himself rather faintly. I prayed again and again, with strong crying and tears.... Brother A. C. and Marion [Daniel's wife] prayed with great brokenness of spirit. A terrible struggle was going on with Daniel. He did not fully surrender, but his face looked as though soul and body was rent asunder. He made concessions but had not yet yielded.”—Ibid. EGWE 81.4