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


The Delegates Respond

When the reading ended G. A. Irwin declared: “Here is an earnest appeal to us. What shall we do with it? Shall we begin right here to reform, or shall we forget what manner of men we have been, and continue doing as we have done? I, for one, want to have a part in this, and I will give $100 to go to that field.” There was a silence, for $100 represented more than a month's pay. W. W. Prescott spoke, saying, “Shall we ... go on, and do nothing, or shall we do something?” 4BIO 410.4

“Do something!” the congregation responded. 4BIO 410.5

Then Prescott proposed that a cablegram be sent to Ellen White promising to send $25,000 from personal donations and from the conferences. The very atmosphere seemed charged. 4BIO 410.6

Elder Irwin responded, “It seems to me we ought to give opportunity to those who feel free to give $100 or more or less, now, to do so.” Voices were heard, “I will give $100!” “I will give $50!” “I'll give $100!” “Another $100 here!” 4BIO 410.7

The secretary could not get the names down fast enough, so the stenographers were summoned to help make the record, which started out: 4BIO 411.1

George A. Irwin and wife$100
J. N. Loughborough and wife100
W. W. Prescott and wife100
A. O. Burrill and wife100

And so it went, until more than a hundred had pledged from $5 up to $100. Then a comparative stranger stood to his feet and pledged $5,000! The audience gasped. It was Henry Norman, a sea captain whom F. H. Westphal had met on his way from South America to the session. Finding him interested in Bible truth, Westphal invited him along. He came and faithfully attended the meetings. Step by step, he took his stand for the Seventh-day Adventist message. Some days later, having kept his first Sabbath, he testified: 4BIO 411.2

Here is the baby of the family. Of course you all know that I am not a minister of the gospel, but I thank the Lord that I found this people.... I am here to stay.... With the Lord's help, I intend to serve God faithfully. I have given myself and all that I have to the Lord.—Ibid., 170 4BIO 411.3

To those who were acquainted with him, this statement was significant, for he let it be known that he was the owner of several oceangoing steamships. As the conference proceeded, he made other generous pledges, totaling $400,000. Of this, $200,000 was for the General Conference Association; $100,000 was for the Foreign Mission Board; and $100,000 was to be divided up among different countries, with an additional $10,000 specified for Australia. In addition, there was his yacht, costing $11,000, which he pledged as a gift for missionary work in New York harbor. Elder Irwin explained in a letter to Ellen White, written soon after the session, that the captain's fortunes were in the Bank of England in London, and his pledges would be paid in late May. Of the $3,400 pledged by the delegates for the work in Australia, $2,394 had been paid in by late March and would be held until the whole amount was on hand (DF 368, G. A. Irwin to EGW, March 26, 1899). What a plum to tantalize the money-starved workers in Australia—$3,400 almost immediately and $15,000 more by the end of May! It was late April when Elder Irwin's letter was received at Cooranbong; a few days later the General Conference Bulletin brought further word. 4BIO 411.4