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


To Go or Not to Go

The action of the Foreign Mission Board calling for Ellen White to go to Australia carried a clause that left the final decision with her. As the summer wore on, she sought the Lord for light, but she received none. 4BIO 15.1

On August 5, 1891, she wrote in her diary: [Ellen White kept a journal, sometimes with just brief entries as to her activities and other times serving as a place in which she might write at some length on subjects to which the Lord led her mind. These blank books in which she thus wrote she called her diary. These materials have been copied and introduced into the manuscript file, bearing appropriate numbers that appear here as source credits.—Author.] 4BIO 15.2

This morning my mind is anxious and troubled in regard to my duty. Can it be the will of God that I go to Australia? This involves a great deal with me. I have not special light to leave America for this far-off country. Nevertheless, if I knew it was the voice of God, I would go. But I cannot understand this matter. 4BIO 15.3

Some who are bearing responsibilities in America seem to be very persistent that my special work should be to go to Europe and to Australia. I finally did go to Europe and worked there in that new field with all the power and influence God had given me. My home and my goods in America became scattered, and I sustained much loss in this line. I offered my home for sale, and Dr. Kellogg purchased it. The price I received I needed, and it was a small price. I did wish it could have been double, for I had, with W. C. White, to open new fields, and I invested this means in school homes, in meetinghouses, and in opening new fields.—Manuscript 44, 1891. 4BIO 15.4

Time was running out. Soon a decision had to be made. On August 20 she wrote: 4BIO 15.5

There is much talk in regard to our journey to Australia, but I cannot see my way clear to go. Brethren say that Sister White will have no such burdens to bear, as she has here in America, that she can write her books so much more readily without carrying so many responsibilities, but I know it is no use to tell them that all their flattering anticipations on my behalf does not lessen my ideas that going to Australia means work, responsibility to bear a message to the people who are not what the Lord would have them to be. If it were not thus, I would feel authorized to remain in America. As it is, I dare not mention the state of things in the office [of publication in Australia] presented to me, for I am then sure they would firmly conclude I must go. 4BIO 15.6

There is work to be done there, and although those who have been there all testify that they will gladly receive any message that the Lord will give me to bear to them, I am not so sanguine in regard to this as my brethren in Australia. They know nothing of me and my work personally, only through my writings. Reproof is unpleasant to the natural heart, and the reproof coming to the people as I know it will come to them with opposition. Already envy and evil surmisings and jealousies are at work, lest someone shall have a higher place in the work than themselves. There is want of spiritual knowledge, spiritual eyesight to discern the work that needs to be done as the Lord shall open the way.—Manuscript 29, 1891. 4BIO 16.1

Nonetheless, she decided to go. As she later wrote of it, she had adopted the practice of responding to the requests of the General Conference unless she had special light to the contrary (Letter 18a, 1892). The brethren had asked her to go; in vision she had been shown conditions in Australia, which to her seemed to be an indication that she should go; and since the Lord gave her no direct word as to the course she should follow, she would go, even though she wished she might be released from going. 4BIO 16.2

In mid-August the Foreign Mission Board and the General Conference Committee took action appointing G. B. Starr and his wife to accompany Ellen White and her party to Australia (The Review and Herald, October 13, 1891). 4BIO 16.3

The September 15, 1891, Review and Herald carried the word: 4BIO 16.4

Sister White left Battle Creek [Wednesday] September 9, in company with Brother W. C. White, and others, on her Western journey. She will attend the camp meetings in Colorado and California, and then sail for Australia.