Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


The Visit to the Watch Factory

Ellen White was having some trouble with her watch. On inquiry she learned that she probably could get one of the employees known to Patience Bourdeau, daughter of D. T. Bourdeau and wife, to make the needed repairs. This young man, Abel Bieder, had at one time stood with God's people in Switzerland but was now a backslider. Of the rather unique experience Ellen White wrote: 3BIO 356.2

There was a young man who had become discouraged through the temptations of Satan and through some mistakes of our brethren who did not understand how to deal with the minds of the youth. He gave up the Sabbath and engaged to work in a manufacturing establishment to perfect his trade in watchmaking. He is a very promising young man. My watch needed repairing, which brought us together. 3BIO 356.3

I was introduced to him and as soon as I looked upon his countenance, I knew that he was the one whom the Lord had presented before me in vision. The whole circumstance came distinctly before me. 3BIO 356.4

He was connected with a little church in Switzerland, and among the believers had come in a spirit of criticism, or faultfinding, which was displeasing to God. When the youth made mistakes they were not treated with tenderness and love, but a censorious spirit was manifested toward them, and love and sympathy which [should] have been given to the erring was withheld, and the result was [that] three young men wandered away from God and from the truth. This young man of whom I speak is one of them.—Letter 59, 1886. 3BIO 356.5

Arrangements were made for the two to have a little time together. She talked with him for two hours on the peril of his situation. She described the interview: 3BIO 356.6

I told him I knew the history of his life and his errors (which were the simple errors of youthful indiscretion) which were not of a character that should have been treated with so great severity. I then entreated him with tears to turn square about, to leave the service of Satan and sin, for he had become a thorough backslider, and return like the prodigal to his Father's house, his Father's service. He was in a good business learning his trade; if he kept the Sabbath he would lose his position. As yet, while learning his trade, he had received only $2 per week and his board, but in a few months more would finish his apprenticeship and then he would have a good trade. But I urged an immediate decision. 3BIO 357.1

We prayed with him most earnestly, and I told him that I dared not have him cross the threshold of the door until he would, before God and the angels and those present, say, “I will from this day be a Christian.” How my heart rejoiced when he said this. 3BIO 357.2

He slept none that night. He said as soon as he made the promise he seemed to be in a new channel. His thoughts seemed purified, his purposes changed; and the responsibility that he had taken seemed so solemn that he could not sleep.—Ibid. 3BIO 357.3

The next day this young man notified his employer that he could work for him no longer. Ellen White wanted him to go to Basel and join Conradi and Ertzenberger, learn more of the message, and prepare for colporteur work. He had no means, so the Ingses and Mrs. White made up a purse of $9 for his ticket. To recoup their limited finances, they traveled third class as they continued their journey to Italy. 3BIO 357.4

The travelers stopped at Valence, France, to meet with the few Sabbathkeepers who came together for two services. While at Valence they visited the cathedral and there saw a bust of Pope Pius VI. “This is the pope,” Ellen White wrote, “specified in prophecy, which received the deadly wound.”—Manuscript 70, 1886. She was intensely interested in the visit to the nearby tower where he had been confined and where he died. 3BIO 357.5