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


Chapter 34—(1899) Wrestling With Distressing Financial Problems

From term to term the attendance at the Avondale school steadily increased. The dormitories, which at first also housed classrooms, needed every bit of space for student housing, and in the summer of 1898-1899 it seemed that there was no other way to meet the need but to erect College Hall. This would provide classrooms, a chapel, and administrative offices. Before the sawmill was turned over to the health-food industry, much of the lumber for the new building was cut from local timber. The General Conference promised to match pound for pound for the project (EGW, in The General Conference Bulletin, 1899, 130; DF 312d, AGD, in Australasian Record, August 27, 1928). Depending on this promise, and anticipating the receipt of funds from America in due time, carpenters were employed, supplies were purchased, and construction was begun. Funds immediately available would allow for the payment from week to week of only a fraction of the wages of the workmen, just enough for families to subsist; full wages were promised when the remittance should come from America, anticipated in early April, 1899. 4BIO 408.1

As the work advanced, Ellen White made it a point to visit the families of the workmen frequently to see whether basic needs were being met. Was there sufficient food? How about the children's shoes and clothes? Were there other very special pressing needs? When she found such, she saw that they were met from her own funds. Morale must not be allowed to sink. In the meantime she addressed an appeal to the General Conference in session, which was read the morning of March 1. As she came to the point of presenting specific needs, she introduced the appeal for financial help with these words: 4BIO 408.2

When the General Conference sent me and my helpers to Australia, our people should have understood the situation, and should have provided us with means and facilities for establishing the work in this country. For seven years we have labored here; but except the publishing house in Melbourne, we have no institution that can give character to the work. 4BIO 409.1

In our school work something has been done; but we have not yet the means for erecting our main hall, which will contain the chapel and recitation rooms. We have not means for the necessary improvement of the land and equipment of the buildings.—Ibid., 1899, 129. 4BIO 409.2

Then she turned to other pressing areas, the medical work and the need of a sanitarium in Sydney and a hospital in Cooranbong. There was a need also to establish clinics and to build churches. She added: 4BIO 409.3

It was not the design of God that our work in this country should be so hard and advance so slowly. It is His purpose that there shall be a true pattern in Australia—a sample of how other fields shall be worked. The work should be symmetrical, and a living witness for the truth. God would have us cherish a noble ambition.—Ibid., 130. 4BIO 409.4

Ellen White told of how the Lord's instruction on this point came to her: 4BIO 409.5

I seemed to be in a meeting where our necessities were being reviewed. We were considering what should be done. One stood up among us, and the word of the Lord was spoken: 4BIO 409.6

“Those in America can relieve the situation here, and should have shared with you their abundance years ago.” ... “When I send My servants to establish My work in a new field, and build up the interests essential to give it character, I call upon My people to sustain that work with their prayers and with their means.... 4BIO 409.7

“When My servant whom I have called to make known My will was sent to Australia, you in America should have understood that you had a work to do in cooperation with her. Who was it that carried out My directions in laying the foundation of the institutions in America, which have grown to such large proportions? 4BIO 409.8

“And when My servant was sent to establish the work in a new field, could you not see that He who owns all the gold and silver was calling for your cooperation? You had obtained a standing fully abundant and ample. And when the work was to begin in another field, I would be with My servant to indicate the work; and you should have been ready to aid in lifting up the standard of truth by precept and example in a way that would recommend it to a gainsaying world.”—Ibid. 4BIO 410.1

It was an attentive audience who listened to the messages. Ellen White made one final appeal: 4BIO 410.2

I have tried to set things before you, but the attempt falls far short of the reality. Will you refuse my plea? It is not I who appeals to you; it is the Lord Jesus, who has given His life for this people. In my request I obey the will, the requirement of God. Will you improve this opportunity of showing honor to God's work here, and respect for the servants whom He has sent to do His will in guiding souls to heaven?—Ibid., 132. 4BIO 410.3