In 1850, Stephen Smith happily became a Seventh-day Adventist. He wanted to work for the church. Mr. Smith gave lots of his time and strength to sharing his faith with others.

But then something sad happened. Mr. Smith started to listen to things that were not part of Adventist teaching. He believed these strange views and became critical of James and Ellen White, two of the Adventist Church's founders, and argued these views as truth.

One October day in 1851, Mr. Smith was at a meeting of 75 believers held in Washington, New Hampshire. Pastor and Mrs. white were there too. Mr. Smith spoke with bitter criticism and argues strongly against a fundamental belief of the church.

As Sabbath drew to an end, Mrs. White received a vision from God. In the vision everything about what was happening in Washington was explained to her and she told the people what she had been shown. Mr. Smith and another person disagreed with Mrs. White and her visions. Mrs. White said he was not faithful. The assembled group did not want Mr. Smith in the church anymore and for a year he was not.

After a year, Mr. Smith seemed to have a change of heart and he was back in the church. But it wan't for long. Mr. Smith was very opposed to Ellen White's visions. He saw no need for the Spirit of Prophecy. In fact, he joined several other religious groups but when each one fell apart he still did not feel it important to follow the warnings and counsels in Mrs. White's visions.

God still loved Mr. Smith very much. During the time Mr. Smith went back and forth in his beliefs, a vision was given to Mrs. White. The vision pointed out the dangerous path Mr. Smith was on, showing the ultimate result of his course of action, but also assuring  him of God's love and acceptance if he repented. Mrs.White carefully wrote out the vision and closed the letter with a request: she asked Mr. Smith to turn from his ways and walk with God's people. Then she mailed the letter.

One day a short time later, Mr. Smith went to the post office to pick up his mail. He saw the envelope with Mrs. White's name and address.

Mrs. White has written me a testimony, he said to himself as he felt the blood rush to his cheeks in anger. I don't want a testimony! No, he thought, I will not read it! Mr. Smith pushed the envelope into his pocket. He hurried home.

When he got to the house, he noticed a trunk in the corner. Mr. Smith immediately raised the lid, reached down, and lifted the contents in the trunk enough so that he could slip the unopened letter into the bottom of the trunk. In anger he slammed the lid and locked it tight. for 28 years the letter lay on the bottom of Mr. Smith's trunk, unopened and unread. And for 28 years Mr. Smith was an angry, mean, and bitter man who continued to criticize Mrs. White and make life for his wife and children unhappy.

In 1884, now with white hair and bent back, Mr. Smith started to change. . .

Find out what happens to Mr. Smith in next month's KidsView. What changes his life? Does he open the trunk? Is the letter still inside? Will he or someone else read it?

* This is the true story of Stephen Smith. Originally called "Stephen Smith and the Unread Testimony," it was written for the August 6, 1953,
Adventist Review from records of the early days of the Adventist Church found in the manuscript vault of the Ellen G. White Estate. Arthur L. White, the author and grandson of Mrs. White, was told this story. We have modified it for KidsView.