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

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Camp Meeting Opens with Large Attendance

The camp meeting opened on Friday, January 5, as scheduled. Through buying and renting, the number of family tents had more than doubled during the week of the workers’ meeting. Even though they were in stringent economic times, every possible effort had been made to “make all things in the camp meeting after the divine order” (The Review and Herald, September 25, 1894), so as to leave the right impression upon the people. 4BIO 115.6

The Sabbath meetings were a feast for the believers, and by then the grounds were being filled with people from the community whose interest had been aroused by the tent city and the distribution of reading matter. 4BIO 116.1

As Ellen White wrote to her son and his wife in America, and also to Dr. Caro, the dentist in New Zealand, she was filled with ecstasy: 4BIO 116.2

The community is stirred in Brighton—a beautiful town. Places thickly settled stand all about and surrounding the city of Melbourne. People of the finest and noblest of society are coming from all places. The tent is filled in the afternoons and evenings, so there is scarcely room for them to find a seat.—Letter 125, 1894. 4BIO 116.3

We see nothing like the bitterness of opposition we met in Wellington. A deep interest is developing everywhere. People come twenty and thirty miles, bringing their lunch, and remaining from morning till night. They say, “Never, never, did we hear the Bible made so plain before. We are amazed at what we hear. Strange things are brought to our ears.” In the afternoons and evenings throughout the week our congregations number about one thousand.... 4BIO 116.4

The congregations surprise us all. The interest is wonderful. The first class of people are searching for truth as for hidden treasures. All who come to the meetings seem astonished beyond measure. They are pleased with everything Elder Olsen presents before them, and express themselves as well pleased with the words I spoke upon temperance Wednesday afternoon, also on Sunday afternoon, and upon education Thursday afternoon, when the subject of our school was up.—Letter 100, 1894. 4BIO 116.5

The visitors made good use of the dining tent. On Sunday, January 14, 190 were served. The cost to the patrons was only six pence, or twelve and a half cents. No meat was served, and the diners really enjoyed their meals (Manuscript 3, 1894). 4BIO 116.6

“This camp meeting is advertising us as nothing else could,” Ellen White wrote in her letter to Mrs. Caro. “The people say it is a wonder of wonders, this city of clean, white tents. Oh, I am so thankful that the Captain of the Lord's host is upon the encampment.”—Letter 100, 1894. 4BIO 116.7

By Friday, January 12, there were 108 family tents on the grounds, with 445 persons occupying them. Several houses just off the grounds were rented to accommodate families without tents. In the camp were a number of people who had accepted the third angel's message from reading such books as The Great Controversy, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, and the missionary journal Bible Echo, and were for the first time mingling with fellow Sabbathkeepers. Wrote Ellen White in the midst of the meeting: 4BIO 117.1

You can hardly imagine the delight of these persons as they feast upon the rich banquet that heaven has prepared for them, and their hungry souls are filled. A holy joy pervades the encampment.... Many voices are heard expressing the gratitude of joyful hearts as men and women contemplate the precious truth of the third angel's message, and come to realize the paternal love of God.—Letter 86, 1894. 4BIO 117.2

Ellen White took some time out on Sunday, January 14, to write to A. T. Jones in Battle Creek. She reported: 4BIO 117.3

The first Sabbath of the conference meeting [January 6] three commenced the observance of the Sabbath, and yesterday five more took their position on the truth. Two businessmen [A. W. Anderson [Note: Father of the well-known evangelist and teacher R. A. Anderson, and his brothers, ormond and Dr. Clifford.] and his brother Richard] with their wives and relatives, numbering eight, begged for tents in order that they might remain on the ground and attend early-morning and evening meetings. One of the men will return every day with his horse and carriage to Melbourne, a distance of eight or ten miles, and look after the business, returning at night. These two brothers keep a large music establishment and are convicted of the truth, and we believe will yet take their position. Far and near the sound has gone out concerning this city of tents, and the most wonderful interest is awakened. 4BIO 117.4

Other campers crowded together a bit to make two tents available to the Andersons, who camped there for a few days. “Had we tents,” continued Mrs. White to Jones, “many from the outside would camp with us on the ground who never heard that there were such people as Seventh-day Adventists until this time.” She added: 4BIO 117.5

We have already extended the meeting one week, and may have to extend it still longer. The Lord is among us working to His own name's glory. 4BIO 118.1

Then she told about the weather, which had been delightful until Sabbath, January 13, when a sandstorm overtook them. 4BIO 118.2

Sentinels were placed at every post of the tent so that there was no flopping of the tent or raising of the poles, for they were held down. Three family tents and two larger tents were blown down. The larger tents were blown down because the center poles broke; but these circumstances did not disturb us, since the Lord is at work. 4BIO 118.3

The Lord is encamped on the ground, and will take care of His own work. The prince of darkness may use his power to annoy and perplex us, but he cannot overthrow us. We gave up our tent to those who were without shelter, and came to the school building.—Letter 37, 1894. 4BIO 118.4