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


Correspondence With Mrs. S. M. I. Henry

Early in 1898 Ellen White opened correspondence with Mrs. S. M. I. Henry, national evangelist of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and one of its early leaders. Daughter of a Methodist minister, Mrs. Henry had often accompanied her father on his itineraries in her girlhood and youth. She was now widowed, with three children. She at first supported herself and family by writing and publishing poetry and prose, but became involved with the WCTU and traveled and lectured widely in its interests. 4BIO 346.4

She became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1896 while a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, confined to a wheelchair. After an unusual experience in which she was healed through the prayer of faith, she again entered the lecture field and used her influence to advance the cause of temperance, and at the same time to deter the women of the United States from giving support to Sunday legislation. 4BIO 346.5

W. C. White met Mrs. Henry in Battle Creek in 1897 and carried back to Australia with him some of her publications, among them an envelope-sized tract of forty-eight pages titled How the Sabbath Came to Me. Mrs. Henry wrote this as a means of introducing the Sabbath question to her WCTU friends. In the follow-up work in Stanmore, Ellen White saw in it a very useful tool, and wrote to Mrs. Henry on January 2, 1898, requesting permission to reprint it at the Echo office. 4BIO 347.1

As Ellen White learned of Mrs. Henry's experience in accepting the Sabbath and then the Spirit of Prophecy, and also of her experience as a writer and public speaker, there quickly grew an affinity between the two. 4BIO 347.2

Her first letter to Mrs. Henry, written on January 2, opened with the words: 4BIO 347.3

I would be very much pleased could I be seated by your side and converse with you in regard to the incidents of our experiences. I have an earnest desire to meet you. It is not impossible that, even in this life, we shall see each other face to face. When I learn of the gracious dealings of God with you, I feel very grateful to my heavenly Father that the light of the truth for this time is shining into the chambers of your mind and into the soul temple. Across the broad waters of the Pacific, we can clasp hands in faith and sweet fellowship.—Letter 9, 1898. 4BIO 347.4

Mrs. Henry's response was wholehearted and immediate. She wrote February 18 from her Battle Creek Sanitarium base, granting permission for the reprinting of the tract. Her response began with the words: 4BIO 347.5

Your letter was a genuine and very delightful surprise to me. I have often thought of you, of course, and wished that I might know you personally. I have felt myself drawn out many times toward you during the experiences which I have had, especially as I have come to realize more concerning your own work. 4BIO 347.6

She too expressed the wish that she might sit down beside Ellen White and that they might talk of their experiences, and added: 4BIO 348.1

My one wish is to know what God wants me to do, and to do it; to know the whole truth and follow it.—DF 38. 4BIO 348.2

In the months that followed, letters of encouragement and counsel were written to Mrs. Henry, both concerning her work with the WCTU and the work she initiated among Seventh-day Adventists in the interest of Christian homes. She, in turn, kept Ellen White informed about her work and its reception. For a year or two she maintained a column in the Review and Herald. 4BIO 348.3

Mrs. Henry had not found it easy to accept the proposition of a prophet in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Then she saw this agency as a telescope focused on the Word of God. She wrote of her experience in an article titled “My Telescope,” published in the January, 1898, issue of The Gospel of Health issued in Battle Creek. This proved helpful to many, and it has been recently reprinted in facsimile form in Witness of the Pioneers Concerning the Spirit of Prophecy. [Published by Review and Herald Pub. Assn.] Correspondence passed between the two women until Mrs. Henry's untimely death from pneumonia in early 1900. 4BIO 348.4