Section 6—Among the Colored People
“Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:38.
Chapter 22—A Call for Colored Laborers
Most decided efforts should be made to educate and train colored men and women to labor as missionaries in the Southern States of America. Christian colored students should be preparing to give the truth to their own race. Those who make the fear of the Lord the beginning of their wisdom and give heed to the counsel of men of experience can be a great blessing to the Negro race by carrying to their own people the light of present truth. Every worker laboring in humility and in harmony with his brethren will be a channel of light to many who are now in the darkness of ignorance and superstition.
Instead of wondering whether they are not fitted to labor for white people, let our colored brethren and sisters devote themselves to missionary work among the colored people. There is an abundance of room for intelligent colored men and women to labor for their own people. Much work remains to be done in the Southern field. Special efforts are to be made in the large cities. In each of these cities there are thousands of colored people, to whom the last warning message of mercy must be given. Let the missionary spirit be awakened in the hearts of our colored church members. Let earnest work be done for those who know not the truth.
To every colored brother and sister I would say: Look at the situation as it is. Ask yourself: “In view of the opportunities and advantages granted me, how much do I owe to my Lord? How can I best glorify Him and promote the interests of my people? How can I use to the best advantage the knowledge God has been pleased to give me? Should I not open my Bible and teach the truth to my people? Are there not thousands perishing for lack of knowledge, whom I can help if I submit myself to God so that He can use me as His instrument? Have I not a work to do for my oppressed, discouraged fellows?”
The Southern field is suffering for workers. Will you pass by your people, making no effort to help them, or will you with a humble heart work to save the perishing? There is a work you can do if you will humble yourself before God. Trusting in Him, you will find peace and comfort, but following your own way and your own will, you will find thorns and thistles, and you will lose the reward.
Time is short, and what you do must be done quickly. Resolve to redeem the time. Seek not your own pleasure. Rouse yourself! Take hold of the work with a new purpose of heart. The Lord will open the way before you. Make every possible effort to work in Christ’s lines, in meekness and lowliness, relying upon Him for strength. Understand the work the Lord gives you to do, and, trusting in God, you will be enabled to go on from strength to strength, from grace to grace. You will be enabled to work diligently, perseveringly, for your people while the day lasts; for the night cometh in which no man shall work.
There is the greatest need for all kinds of missionary work in the South. Without delay, workers must be prepared for this field. Our people should provide a fund for the education of men and women in the Southern States who, being accustomed to the climate, can work there without endangering their health.
Promising young men and young women should be educated to become teachers. They should have the very best advantages. Schoolhouses and meetinghouses should be built in different places, and teachers employed.
Those who for years have been working to help the colored people are well fitted to give counsel in regard to the opening of such schools. So far as possible these schools should be established outside the cities. But in the cities there are many children who could not attend schools away from the cities; and for the benefit of these, schools should be opened in the cities as well as in the country.
The children and youth in these schools are to be taught something more than merely how to read. Industrial lines of work are to be carried forward. The students are to be provided with facilities for learning trades that will enable them to support themselves.
Our churches in the North, as well as in the South, should do what they can to help support the school work for the colored children. The schools already established should be faithfully maintained. The establishment of new schools will require additional funds. Let all our brethren and sisters do their part wholeheartedly to place these schools on vantage ground.
In addition to engaging in this line of school work, our colored brethren may do a good work by establishing mission Sunday schools and Sabbath schools among their own people—schools in which the youth may be taught by teachers whose hearts are filled with love for souls.
Opportunities are continually presenting themselves in the Southern States, and many wise, Christian colored men will be called to the work. But for several reasons white men must be chosen as leaders. We are all members of one body and are complete only in Christ Jesus, who will uplift His people from the low level to which sin has degraded them and will place them where they shall be acknowledged in the heavenly courts as laborers together with God.
There is work to be done in many hard places, and out of these hard places bright laborers are to come. Let the work be managed so that colored laborers will be educated to work for their own race. Among the Negro race there are many who have talent and ability. Let us search out these men and women, and teach them how to engage in the work of saving souls. God will co-operate with them and give them the victory.
“Laborers Together With God”
The ear of the Lord is open to the cries of those who are in His service. He has promised: “I will guide thee with Mine eye.” Psalm 32:8. Walk humbly with God, and ask Him to make your course of duty plain. When He speaks to His representatives and asks them to be laborers together with Him, they will do the same kind of work that Jesus announced as His work when He stood up to read in the synagogue at Nazareth. He opened the book of the prophet Esaias and read: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isaiah 61:1.
The truth is now overcast in the world by clouds of error that prevail. He who can influence even the most lowly, and can win them to Christ, is co-operating with divine agencies in seeking to save that which is lost. In presenting to the sinner a personal, sin-pardoning Saviour, we reach a hand of sympathy and Christlike love to grasp the hand of one fallen, and, laying hold of the hand of Christ by faith, we form a link of union between the sinner and the Saviour.
The end is near, and every soul is now to walk carefully, humbly, meekly with Christ Jesus. Our precious Saviour, from whom all the rays of truth radiate to the world, wants us to put not our trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help; but to lean wholly upon Him. He says: “Without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. We need to look to Jesus constantly in order that He may impress upon us His own lovely image. We are to behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Then we shall reveal Christ to our fellow men.
Chapter 23—Proclaiming the Truth Where There is Race Antagonism
I am burdened, heavily burdened, for the work among the colored people. The gospel is to be presented to the downtrodden Negro race. But great caution will have to be shown in the efforts put forth for the uplifting of this people. Among the white people in many places there exists a strong prejudice against the Negro race. We may desire to ignore this prejudice, but we cannot do it. If we were to act as if this prejudice did not exist we could not get the light before the white people. We must meet the situation as it is and deal with it wisely and intelligently.
For many years I have borne a heavy burden in behalf of the Negro race. My heart has ached as I have seen the feeling against this race growing stronger and still stronger, and as I have seen that many Seventh-day Adventists are apparently unable to understand the necessity for an earnest work being done quickly. Years are passing into eternity with apparently little done to help those who were recently a race of slaves.
One of the difficulties attending the work is that many of the white people living where the colored people are numerous are not willing that special efforts should be put forth to uplift them. When they see schools established for them, when they see them being taught to be self-supporting, to follow trades, to provide themselves with comfortable homes instead of continuing to live in hovels, they see the possibility that selfish plans will be interfered with—that they will no longer be able to hire the Negro for a mere pittance; and their enmity is aroused. They feel that they are injured and abused. Some act as if slavery had never been abolished. This spirit is growing stronger as the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the world, and in many places it is impossible now to do that work which could have been done for the colored people in past years.
Much might have been accomplished by the people of America if adequate efforts in behalf of the freedmen had been put forth by the Government and by the Christian churches immediately after the emancipation of the slaves. Money should have been used freely to care for and educate them at the time they were so greatly in need of help. But the Government, after a little effort, left the Negro to struggle, unaided, with his burden of difficulties. Some of the strong Christian churches began a good work, but sadly failed to reach more than a comparatively few; and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has failed to act its part. Some persevering efforts have been put forth by individuals and by societies to uplift the colored people, and a noble work has been done. But how few have had a part in this work which should have had the sympathy and help of all!
Noble efforts have been put forth by some Seventh-day Adventists to do the work that needed to be done for the colored people. Had those who were engaged in this work received the co-operation of all their ministering brethren, the result of their work would now be altogether different from what it is. But the great majority of our ministers did not co-operate, as they should have done, with the few who were struggling to carry forward a much-needed work in a difficult field.
As time advances, and opposition strengthens, circumstances warn us that discretion is the better part of valor. If unwise moves have been made in the work done for the colored people, it is not because warnings have not been given. From Australia, across the broad waters of the Pacific, cautions were sent that every movement must be guarded, that the workers were to make no political speeches, and that the mingling of whites and blacks in social equality was by no means to be encouraged.
In a council meeting held in 1895 at Armadale, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, I spoke of these matters, in answer to the inquiries of my brethren, and urged the necessity of caution. I said that perilous times were coming, and that the sentiments that could then be expressed in regard to what should be done along missionary lines for the colored people could not be expressed in the future without imperiling lives. I said plainly that the work done for the colored people would have to be carried on along lines different from those followed in some sections of the country in former years.
Let as little as possible be said about the color line, and let the colored people work chiefly for those of their own race.
In regard to white and colored people worshiping in the same building, this cannot be followed as a general custom with profit to either party—especially in the South. The best thing will be to provide the colored people who accept the truth, with places of worship of their own, in which they can carry on their services by themselves. This is particularly necessary in the South in order that the work for the white people may be carried on without serious hindrance.
Let the colored believers be provided with neat, tasteful houses of worship. Let them be shown that this is done not to exclude them from worshiping with white people, because they are black, but in order that the progress of the truth may be advanced. Let them understand that this plan is to be followed until the Lord shows us a better way.
The colored members of ability and experience should be encouraged to lead the services of their own people; and their voices are to be heard in the representative assemblies.
Among the colored believers there are many who can labor to advantage for their own people—workers to whom the Lord has given light and knowledge and who possess capabilities of no mean order. These are to labor perseveringly and in every effective way. They are to use our literature and hold tent meetings and meetings in halls. And sometimes (where it is permissible) white ministers should help them. Special efforts should be made to increase the force of colored workers. Colored men are to be thoroughly educated and trained to give Bible readings and hold tent meetings among their own people. There are many having capability, who should be prepared for this work.
We should be deeply interested in the establishment of schools for the colored people. And we must not overlook the importance of placing the present truth before the teachers and students in the large colleges for colored people that have been established by men of the world.
Schools and sanitariums for colored people should be established, and in these the colored youth should be taught and trained for service by the very best teachers that can be employed.
The colored ministers should make every effort possible to help their own people to understand the truth for this time. As time advances, and race prejudices increase, it will become almost impossible, in many places, for white workers to labor for the colored people. Sometimes the white people who are not in sympathy with our work will unite with colored people to oppose it, claiming that our teaching is an effort to break up churches and bring in trouble over the Sabbath question. White ministers and colored ministers will make false statements, arousing in the minds of the people such a feeling of antagonism that they will be ready to destroy and to kill.
The powers of hell are working with all their ingenuity to prevent the proclamation of the last message of mercy among the colored people. Satan is working to make it most difficult for the gospel minister and teacher to ignore the prejudice that exists between the white and the colored people.
Let us follow the course of wisdom. Let us do nothing that will unnecessarily arouse opposition—nothing that will hinder the proclamation of the gospel message. Where demanded by custom or where greater efficiency is to be gained, let the white believers and the colored believers assemble in separate places of worship. Let us cultivate the meekness of Christ. He was the Majesty of heaven, the only-begotten Son of God. Yet “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
If, to save a perishing world, God condescended to give up His Son to a painful, ignominious death, should not the Lord’s missionaries be willing to make every effort in their power to win and help those who are in the depths of sin, and to flash the light upon those who are in darkness as to what is truth? Christ clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might reach down and uplift fallen human beings. Shall not His followers, for His sake, be willing to submit to many things unjust and grievous to be borne, in order to help the very ones who need help? Let the work be done in a way that will not arouse prejudice which would close doors now open for the entrance of the truth.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9 pp. 199-208