A great work is committed to those who present the truth in Europe.
Giving Our All
Counsel on early mission work in Europe can inspire us today.
By Ellen G. White
A great work is committed to those who present the truth in Europe. No branch of our work has a more important field that the Central European Mission. There are France and Germany, with their great cities and teeming population. There are Italy, Spain, and Portugal, after so many centuries of darkness, freed from Romish tyranny, and opened to the Word of God—opened to receive the last message of warning to the world. There are Holland, Austria, Romania, Turkey, Greece, and Russia, the home of millions upon millions, whose souls are as precious in the sight of God as our own, who know nothing of the special truths for this time. The population comprised within the limits of this mission alone is four times that of the United States.
A good work has already been done in these countries. There are those who have received the truth, scattered as light-bearers in almost every land. We have nearly three hundred Sabbathkeepers in Switzerland. There are little companies in France, Germany, and Italy, and two hundred souls in Russia, who are obeying God’s law; and there is a church of forty members away in the far east, almost to the line of Asia. The foundation has been laid for a church in Holland. In Romania and Corsica there are a few who are seeking to keep God’s commandments, and to wait for His Son from heaven. . . .
Obstacles to Overcome
There will be obstacles to retard this work. These we have had to meet wherever missions have been established. Lack of experience, imperfections, mistakes, unconsecrated influences, have had to be overcome. How often have those hindered the advancement of the cause in America! We do not expect to meet fewer difficulties in Europe.
Some connected with the work in these foreign fields, as in America, become disheartened, and, following the course of the unworthy spies, bring a discouraging report. Like the discontented weaver, they are looking at the wrong side of the web. They cannot trace the plan of the Designer; to them all is confusion, and instead of waiting till they can discern the purpose of God, they hastily communicate to others their spirit of doubt and darkness.
But we have no such report to bring. After a two years’ stay in Europe we see no more reason for discouragement in the state of the cause there than at its rise in the different fields in America. There we saw the Lord testing the material to be used. Some would not bear the proving of God. They would not be hewed and squared.
Every stroke of the chisel, every blow of the hammer, aroused their anger and resistance. They were laid aside, and other material was brought in, to be tested in like manner. All this occasioned delay. Every fragment broken away was regretted and mourned over. Some thought that these losses would ruin the building; but, on the contrary, it was rendered stronger by the removal of these elements of weakness. The work went steadily forward. Every day made it plainer that the Lord’s hand was guiding all, and that a grand purpose ran through the work from first to last. So we see the cause being established in Europe.
One of the great difficulties there is the poverty that meets us at every turn. This retards the progress of the truth, which, as in earlier ages, usually finds its first converts among the humbler classes. Yet we had a similar experience in our own country, both east and west of the Rocky Mountains. Those who first accepted this message were poor, but as they set to work in faith to accomplish what they could with their talents of ability and means, the Lord came in to help. In His providence He brought men and women into the truth who were willing-hearted; they had means, and they wanted to send the light to others. So it will be now. But the Lord would have us labor earnestly in faith till that time comes.
The word has gone forth to Europe, “Go forward.” The humblest toiler for the salvation of souls is a laborer together with God, a coworker with Christ. Angels minister unto him. As we advance in the opening path of His providence, God will continue to open the way before us. The greater the difficulties to be overcome, the greater will be the victory gained. . . .
God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like rays of light from the sun, blessings flow out from Him to all the creatures He has made. In His infinite love He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature, and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow-men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those are brought nearest to their Creator who thus become participants in labors of love. He who refuses to become a “laborer together with God”—the man who for the sake of selfish indulgence ignores the wants of his fellow-men, the miser who heaps up his treasures here—is withholding from himself the richest blessing that God can give him.
Brethren, “ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” As we recount the numberless mercies of our God, and meditate upon His matchless love; as we behold the wonderful sacrifice of the Redeemer, may gratitude awaken in our hearts, till it shall kindle a flame of sacred love that shall flow out to souls even in far-off Europe.
This is taken from the article “Our Missions in Europe,” published in Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Dec. 6, 1887. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.