Adventists give mission offerings and English language lessons to help the church's work.
ne day in 1869 a young man stepped off the train in Battle Creek, Michigan, looking a little lost. He couldn’t speak English, but held up a paper to the station agent. The paper said, “John N. Andrews, Battle Creek, Michigan.” The young man was directed to the Review and Herald office, where he was soon surrounded by a friendly group, all eager to learn who he was and where he came from. But no one could understand the young man’s French words.
Elder James White sent for a friend who spoke French, and then invited the young stranger home for lunch. The White family learned that the young man’s name was James Erzberger, and he came all the way from Europe by simply showing steamship and railroad men along the way the addressed copy of the Review. (Don‘t try this today!)
Ellen and James White were very surprised when the young man said he was a Sabbath keeper, and that he was bringing greetings from about 50 more Sabbath keepers in Switzerland. How did people in Switzerland know about the Review? And how had they learned about the Sabbath? It turned out that the Swiss had learned about the Sabbath from a man named Mr. Czechowski. After Mr. Czechowski left his Swiss friends to preach elsewhere, the group found a copy of the Review and discovered that there were many more persons in America who also kept the Sabbath. Thus, the Sabbath-keeping Swiss had sent young Erzberger as their emissary to learn more about the Sabbath-keeping group in Battle Creek!
The Whites took James to their little farm in Greenville, Michigan. They brought John Harvey Kellogg, age 17, and Willie White, age 14 to teach James English. Willie would walk around the house with James every morning, naming objects and asking him to repeat the names. Next time around, James was challenged to identify the objects without help. After an hour, Johnny Kellogg took over, and repeated the same English lessons. They did this all day!
After only four weeks, James gave an understandable talk at the Ohio camp meeting. Everyone wanted James’ friends in Switzerland to learn more about Jesus, so they took up an offering to help. This was the first foreign missions offering ever given by Seventh-day Adventists!
Adapted from Stories of My Grandmother
, by Ella Robinson. To read more stories about Adventis history and heritage--just for kids--go to www.whiteestate.org/vez.