In the Hands of the People
Accessibility for all
The life of Ellen White was remarkable in many ways. God allowed her to see and experience the history of the universe firsthand—providing sweeping yet detailed views of heaven and earth, the battle between good and evil—ranging from the fall of Lucifer all the way down the millennia until the time when peace will be restored. She was chosen to communicate God’s divine counsel to a fledgling movement destined to reach the entire world with His love. What may be even more intriguing, however, is that people remembered her as someone who indeed lived what she preached.
Unfortunately, time would last longer than she hoped. One Sabbath in February 1915, at the age of 87, Ellen White fell, breaking her hip as she walked into her study. She would not recover. On March 3 she received what would prove to be her last vision. It emphasized once more the importance of going “deeper and deeper into the study of the things of God” (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Apr. 15, 1915, p. 3). As she brought her last testimony to a close, she wrote:
“I have no assurance that my life will last long, but I feel that I am accepted of the Lord. . . . I have felt that it was imperative that the truth should be seen in my life, and that my testimony should go to the people. I want that you should do all you can to have my writings placed in the hands of the people in foreign lands. . . . I am impressed that it is my special duty to say these things” (ibid.).
A Pivotal Time
As we draw closer to the culmination of all earthly things, our need of divine wisdom is greater than ever. At this pivotal time in earth’s history, growth of and access to global interconnectivity have soared dramatically, particularly with the development of the Internet and World Wide Web, smartphones and a huge array of applications, better known as “apps.” By the end of 2011 one third of the world’s population had access to the World Wide Web, with an 11-year growth of 1,000 to 3,000 percent in many parts of the world, such as Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, and a 528 percent increase globally (www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm).
Despite their potential dangers, these recent developments in the technological world enable us to follow Ellen White’s instructions much more effectively than ever before; and the Ellen G. White Estate is making great efforts to seize these opportunities. At the newly created Web site, http://egwwritings.org, anyone anywhere with an Internet connection can read, hear, and download the writings of Ellen White, currently available online in more than 60 languages, at no cost to the user. This Web site is the beginning of an ambitious project to ultimately provide online all of the Ellen White books in 2,500 different translations.
Wide Range of Free Resources
The Web site itself offers a wide diversity of tools and materials, such as advanced search functions, integration with social networks, a host of research documents and additional resources, as well as a topical and scripture index (to find quotations based on topics or Bible references), to name only a few. The site also offers the ability to jump from a paragraph in one language to the same paragraph in another, and to read and scroll both simultaneously, which may be particularly helpful for many who speak languages other than English.
Books can be downloaded in a variety of formats to be read offline. More than 120 audio books, currently available online in nine languages, are available free of charge. Besides their usual uses, the audio books can be used to further the gospel in areas with low literacy rates. To further enhance accessibility, a scaled-down, text-only version of the Web site (http://text.egwwritings.org) enables users with slow Internet connections to easily read and study Ellen White’s writings online.
Users of smartphones running iOS or Android will appreciate the free apps to be found on the Apple Store or Google Play, respectively. While the apps provide the best experience and even feature a built-in study center to highlight passages and take notes, a mobile version of the Web site (http://m.egwwritings.org) is available as well, taking into account the screen and bandwidth restrictions of phones.
Digital Resource Center
Whether we are in need of divine counsel or simply have questions pertaining to Ellen White’s life and legacy, Adventist history or the Bible, the White Estate Digital Resource Center (http://drc.whiteestate.org) provides responses to questions on a wide range of issues that have come to the Ellen G. White Estate dating from the 1920s up to the present, such as “What does Ellen White say about marriage? true Sabbath observance? last-day events? heaven?” This is an invaluable resource for answers to many questions asked today.
Recently the White Estate made available more than 2,100 downloadable high-quality photos of Adventist pioneers and important institutions. The photos can be accessed athttp://photo.egwwritings.org. Not only will these add to the interest in Adventist history in general, but they can also be used freely for noncommercial purposes such as in nonprofit publications.*
The Ellen G. White Estate is striving to place the important writings that they have been entrusted with into “the hands of the people in foreign lands” and to make them more accessible to everyone. However, everyone is invited personally to support these efforts in a variety of ways, the most important one being prayer. Other options include simply spreading the word or donating at http://partner.egwwritings.org, which will help with the digitization of books to be made available online.
Many great achievements in history were possible only because of the collective efforts of many individuals. Fulfilling God’s vision for His church is no exception. Ellen White wrote, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history” (Life Sketches, p. 196).
* If usage (judged on the honor system) is for-profit publication/Web site/video production, etc., a US$60 donation is requested by the E. G. White Estate.
Stefan Serena, a native of Switzerland, serves as technical coordinator at the Ellen G. White Estate in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A