Finding Elmshaven

Ellen White had settled into her work and life in Australia comfortably. She enjoyed living at Sunnyside and the work at the Avondale School was just starting to get along at a good pace. Then during the Australian winter of 1900, she began to be convicted that she was needed back in the United States. Throughout those months she was given visions regarding the condition of the work in America and she confided in W.C. White that she felt it was time to go back. For his part, Willie White was in disbelief. He couldn’t understand how they could afford to leave at that particular point in time. The work in Australia needed so much oversight and guidance.

But Ellen White was heavily burdened by what she had been shown by God with regards to the work in the United States. Finally and with some misgivings, the White family decided to sell their homes and make the move back to the United States. They arrived in California and began to cast about for a place to live. Willie White suggested that his mother and her assistant Sarah McEnterfer spend some time resting at the St Helena Sanitarium while he continued to search for a place to live. When she arrived at the Sanitarium Ellen White was reunited with some old friends including Mrs J.L. Ings. Upon hearing about her frustration with house hunting Mrs Ings mentioned that there was a house available just under the hill.

Ellen White went to inspect the home and promptly fell in love with it. Providentially the asking price was well within her budget. The house was christened Elmshaven and soon Ellen white and her staff moved in and settled in comfortably. During her years at Elmshaven Ellen White completed some of her most important books including The Ministry of Healing, Acts of the Apostles and an updated version of The Great Controversy.

Learning To Heed Counsel

Towards the end of her life, Ellen White wrote extensive testimonies about the work that needed to be done in the major cities across the United States. She strongly encouraged church leaders to break ground in major hubs like San Francisco, New York, Boston and Los Angeles. She was often frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm and support for this work and the tendency of the brethren to focus on the obstacles. After a few initial plans had been laid for work in the cities the General Conference president, Arthur Daniells, dropped in to see Ellen White at Elmshaven. Interestingly Ellen White refused to see him and sent him word that when he was ready to carry out the work that needed to be done, then she would talk to him.

On the train ride home to Washington, Daniells wrote a humble and contrite letter to Ellen White to which she responded “when the president of the General Conference is converted, he will know what to do with the messages God has sent him” It was an agonising time for Daniells who spent much time in prayer and heart-searching before God. Finally, he decided to step down from his duties as President of the General Conference for a year in order to provide much-needed leadership in city evangelism in the field. He went to New York City and finally fulfilled what God had intended for him to do with regards to evangelising the cities. His efforts helped to launch a new Seventh-Day Adventist city Evangelism program.

The story of Arthur Daniells is one that speaks to each of us. Even though he had received much counsel from God about the work that needed to be done in the cities he was reluctant to fully commit himself. From time to time we may find ourselves in a similar situation. Knowing and doing are two completely different things. The gap between them is only bridged when we are willing to step out in faith and take a leap into the unknown. Sometimes it’s the scary things that are most worth doing. Besides, leaping with God into the unknown is not the same as leaping alone. With God, you are always guaranteed to land on your feet. 

Further Reading

  • White, A.L. (1981) – The Early Elmshaven Years
  • White, A.L. (1982) – The Later Elmshaven Years