Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


Helping Destitute Families

Not infrequently, as a family took its stand for the Sabbath the wage earner lost his job. Being depression times in Australia, it was almost impossible to find other regular employment. 4BIO 141.4

“Now is a critical time,” Ellen White observed. 4BIO 141.5

You cannot know how we carry the heavy burden as we see these souls tested, thrown out of employment, unable to obtain labor unless they will give up the Sabbath. We must comfort and encourage them; we must help them as they shall be brought into strait places. There are many souls as precious as gold, and every sinner saved causes rejoicing in the heavenly courts.—Letter 30a, 1894. 4BIO 141.6

Several families who were keeping the Sabbath lost their farms. As financial conditions worsened, their mortgaged farms were sold out from under them. Iram James was one who had thus lost his farm (Letter 146, 1894). She noted: 4BIO 141.7

They are destitute of food and clothing. He keeps up good courage in the Lord.... Brother James, I understand, has four children, and some days has had nothing to eat but wild berries. But we have sent them flour, beans, peas, cornstarch, cabbages, turnips, and potatoes, enough to last them a little time. Perhaps help will come.—Letter 147, 1894. 4BIO 141.8

The McKenzie family lost everything—farm, home, and furniture. The husband was a real-estate agent and a bookkeeper, earning good wages, but on the acceptance of the Sabbath he lost his position. The failure of the banks climaxed the situation. The man who bought the furniture at auction offered to sell back what pieces McKenzie's friends might help with. The Parramatta church raised what they could for him, and £10 was sent from Melbourne to help. The family was without food for three days, except a little dry bread (Letter 24, 1894). Food was sent from the White home—peas, tapioca, flour (graham and white)—and £1 in money. Mr. McKenzie attempted to sell books, but without success. Ellen White reported that when supplies were taken to the family, she “found Sister McKenzie full of courage and faith” (Letter 50, 1894). 4BIO 142.1

A number of families went through similar experiences, and Ellen White came to their aid in very substantial ways as her means would permit. 4BIO 142.2