Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

IN North America the general line of development in the last quarter of a century has been what might be expected from the history recorded in the earlier chapters of this book. After the great disappointment, the advent message, in the clearer light that grew out of that experience, was preached mainly in New England in the late forties. In 1852 the office of publiIcation of the Advent Review was moved to Rochester, N. Y., and three years later it was taken farther west to Battle Creek, Mich., which continued to be the headquarters of the denomination for nearly fifty years.

It was in 1903, two years after the memorable General Conference of 1901, in which the denomination first began to lay its plans on a broader world basis, that the decision was made to transfer the headquarters to the capital of the nation. The move was indicative of the developments which have followed. While Battle Creek was the center, the work grew rapidly in the Mississippi Valley, and spread northward into Canada,

westward to the Pacific Coast, and in the latter part of the century began to make encouraging progress in the South. During this half-century, the great bulk of the believers, old and new, were living in the United States; the money raised in the denomination was nearly all spent in this country; and the growth and development were largely here.

Nevertheless, during these years there was seed-sowing on a small scale also in other parts of the world. The printed page had entered many different countries, and General Conference operations in foreign lands had reached a stage in the middle nineties where the lack of adequate financial support created serious embarrassment. The interest in world evangelization had gone in advance of a world program of financial support.

At the General Conference of 1901 the proposition was first definitely advanced that the financial resources of the denomination should be pooled to give the advent message to the world. Before that time each local conference used the funds raised within its boundaries largely for its own work, barring a small percentage sent to the General Conference for the support of the central organization. After that meeting the conception gradually prevailed that the work is one the world over; that strong conferences should assist weak ones; and that believers in America should give freely for the support of the work in all parts of the world. With the adoption of this plan, not only have the foreign mission offerings grown rapidly, but the regular tithe raised in the various conferences and unions for their local work has been shared with the General Conference for the support of the work in other lands.

Following such a program has necessarily involved some limitation as regards aggressive evangelistic efforts in the home. field. But the taking over of the responsibility for a world effort has undoubtedly strengthened the morale of the home churches, and has made for the development of a finer type of Christian character.

The work in this country can be most easily understood if we regard America as the base for supplies of men and of means. The growth of our educational system, which has been recorded in other chapters of the book, is best understood in the light of the great demand for trained workers of all kinds. Our various sanitariums are likewise educational centers. The publishing houses are training men and women both within their walls and out in the field, and they have in their employment the largest number of trained workers in the denomination.

Moreover, our union and State conferences are continually training young evangelists and secretarial workers, as well as leaders in all other lines of conference activity, in order that the most promising of these may at the proper time enter the foreign. field.

On such a régime the work in this country will show a higher degree of efficiency, increased power to do the thing expected of it, rather than growth in numbers, and the latter will be looked for in the work throughout the world. This is in harmony with the facts. There has been a fair growth in this country, as shown by the fact that while our membership in 1901 was 61,916, in 1924 it was 106,941. But the membership in other lands has in this same period increased from 16,272 to 123,891. Beyond this, the mission funds raised in America during this same period increased from $162,206.80 in 1901 to $2,354,689.74 in 1924, thus showing that as a base for mission supplies the home churches have increased in efficiency at a considerably higher rate than they have grown in members. An encouraging feature of the work in North America is the unanimity with which this world policy is being carried out. Although all the General Conferences thus far, and most of the General Conference Councils, have been held in the United States, yet ever since 1901 by far the greater share of attention at all these meetings has been devoted to world problems. In fact, the time spent on North America has been devoted chiefly to considering what it can do to further the work in foreign fields.

In previous chapters we have told how the great question of giving the message to the world occupied the energies of the General Conferences from 1901 to 1922 inclusive. The same thing has been true of the annual councils held between these larger gatherings. Furthermore, this attention to the foreign fields is not dependent on the number of delegates from those fields. Some of the most important measures have been passed when there have been present very few workers from countries outside the United States.

This deep interest in the work overseas was a very marked feature of the Fall Council held in Milwaukee in 1923, and again at the Council the following year in Des Moines, Iowa. At the Milwaukee meeting there was deep concern over the financial conditions in Europe, and a desire to render such effective assistance that the work should not suffer in that field because of a lack of funds. At the meeting held a year later the delegates from Europe reported a much more favorable out

[ocr errors]

look, and yet the desire to plan for more aggressive work in that great field was in no way diminished. Perhaps the needs of the great Far Eastern Division made a still stronger appeal. Africa, South America, and the South Asiatic also received much serious consideration.

When Prof. Frederick Griggs and Dr. H. W. Miller expressed their conviction that they should devote themselves to the work in the Far East, it was an emphatic recognition of the needs of that great field. Professor Griggs, as head of one of our largest senior colleges, was already training workers for all fields. Dr. Miller, was superintendent of one of our largest sanitariums, where his surgical skill was a very vital factor in the building up of the institution. It seemed almost impossible to spare these men from the positions of large responsibility that they already held; but the managing boards of the two institutions yielded to the call of the field as it came to these men, and the workers in the Far East rejoiced over the accession of two strong, experienced leaders.

There was another significant action taken at this Fall Council in Des Moines. It was strongly recommended that the institutions in this country limit their expenses in every possible way, getting along with present facilities, even at considerable inconvenience, in order that enterprises abroad might have needed support. Here, again, the principle prevailed that the home field should share as far as possible in the hardships and difficulties that must necessarily be met in foreign fields.

It was in line with the general policy outlined above that the North American Division began at once to devote special attention to the plans for paying off the debts on its institutions, especially academies and colleges. It was resolved also to follow in future a strict budget arrangement year by year, so that it will be impossible for debts to accumulate. This plan, in fact, is strongly advised for the institutions of the denomination throughout the world.

The closing word in this narrative cannot be otherwise than hopeful. From the earliest beginnings of the denomination there has been growth along all lines,- growth in conception of the work in its larger possibilities, and growth in actual numbers of those to whom the work is more precious than life itself. Moreover, in the last few years the rate of progress in most parts of the world, has been accelerated. While the greatness of the task yet to be done seems appalling, it is well to remember, after all, that the work to be done, and the agents brought into requisition to do it, are all in the hands of the great Mas

ter Workman. Adventists feel as Luther did at Worms, when he said in his prayer: "Lord, this is not my work, it is Thine; Thou Thyself must do it." It is right for the believers in this message to give their all to see it carried to the ends of the earth. Whole-hearted consecration of all one has and is, this alone is Christianity. But having done this, which in a sense is our part, we may rest assured that God will not fail to do His part, for His Word declares that " He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth." There is nothing impossible with God.


How far from home? I asked, as on

I bent my steps the watchman spake:
"The long, dark night is almost gone,
The morning soon will break.

Then weep no more, but speed thy flight,
With Hope's bright star thy guiding ray,
Till thou shalt reach the realms of light,
In everlasting day."

I asked the warrior on the field;

This was his soul-inspiring song:

"With courage, bold, the sword I'll wield,
The battle is not long.

Then weep no more, but well endure

The conflict, till thy work is done;
For this we know, the prize is sure,
When victory is won."

I asked again; earth, sea, and sun
Seemed, with one voice, to make reply:
"Time's wasting sands are nearly run,

Eternity is nigh.

Then weep no more with warning tones,
Portentous signs are thickening round,
The whole creation, waiting, groans,
To hear the trumpet sound."

Not far from home! O blessed thought!
The traveler's lonely heart to cheer;
Which oft a healing balm has brought,
And dried the mourner's tear.

Then weep no more, since we shall meet
Where weary footsteps never roam

Our trials past, our joys complete,

Safe in our Father's home.

Annie R. Smith.

« PreviousContinue »