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


A New Approach in Gisborne

There would be several weeks before camp meeting would open, and it was now planned that Ellen White and Emily Campbell would accompany G. T. Wilson and his wife to Gisborne for an evangelistic thrust. For years a little company had been worshiping in Gisborne, but the work very much needed a boost. Prejudice against Seventh-day Adventists was strong there. The question was “How to approach the people?” 4BIO 106.1

So far, except in a few places, almost every conventional means of reaching the people in New Zealand in a favorable way had failed. As the little worker group counseled together, they decided to try a new approach to arrest the attention of the public. Ellen White described what took place in letters to her son W. C. White, and to her niece Addie Walling: 4BIO 106.2

We thought we would strike out on a new line. We would have Sunday-afternoon services in an open-air meeting. We did not know how it would come out.... Brother Wilson and Brother Alfred Wade secured the paddock just back of the post office. There was one large willow tree. Under this a platform was made and the organ and stand placed on the platform. Lumber for seats was right in the yard, costing nothing for their use.—Letter 140, 1893. 4BIO 106.3

There were seats without backs in abundance, and a dozen taken from the church with backs.... The weather was favorable, and we had an excellent congregation. The mayor and some of the first people in Gisborne were in attendance. 4BIO 106.4

I spoke upon temperance, and this is a living question here at this time. Hundreds were out to hear, and there was perfect order.... Mothers and any number of children were present. You would have supposed that the children had had an opiate, for there was not a whimper from them. My voice reached all over the enclosure (paddock is the name they give it here). 4BIO 106.5

Some of the hearers were very enthusiastic over the matter. The mayor, the policeman, and several others said it was by far the best gospel temperance discourse that they had ever heard. We pronounced it a success and decided that we would have a similar meeting the next Sunday afternoon.—Letter 68, 1893. 4BIO 106.6

They did hold just such a meeting the next Sunday afternoon. It, too, was a decided success. Ellen White commented: “One thing we have learned, and that is that we can gather the people in the open air, and there are no sleepy ones. Our meetings were conducted just as orderly as if in a meetinghouse.”—Ibid. A church member declared, “It is altogether the best advertisement of our people they have ever had in Gisborne.”—Letter 140, 1893. 4BIO 107.1

Prejudice was broken down, and from that time on, the meetings in the church and the Theater Royal were well attended. At last they had witnessed a breakthrough. 4BIO 107.2

It was while in Gisborne that Ellen White received a letter from Edson telling of his reconversion after reading her agonizing admonition to beware of the undertow. 4BIO 107.3

Immediately she acknowledged the good news: 4BIO 107.4

October 21: Edson, the Lord Jesus is of tender, pitying loving-kindness. This day we received your letter and were very glad that you had indeed made the surrender to God. I am glad more than I can express that you have, in the simplicity of faith, accepted Jesus, and I am not surprised that you found something to do at once....

Never fail or be discouraged. It is that which you ought to have done long ago, and your mother will give you encouragement and her prayers and so will your brother. Years that have passed into eternity are beyond your power to recall, but through the grace of Christ you may labor in the vineyard for the Master.—Letter 120, 1893. 4BIO 107.5