After 20 years of trial and error, Ellen White was more convinced than ever regarding the type of education that the church needed.
As we noted yesterday,* Ellen White spent a great deal of her time during the 1890s working closely with the development of the Avondale school in Australia as a pattern, whose principles the Church could apply to other institutions.
In early 1894 she wrote that “our minds have been much exercised day and night in regard to our schools. How shall they be conducted? And what shall be the education and training of the youth? Where shall our Australian Bible School be located? I was awakened this morning at one o’clock with a heavy burden upon my soul. The subject of education has been presented before me in different times, in varied aspects, by many illustrations, and with direct specification, now upon one point, and again upon another. I felt, indeed, that we have much to learn. We are ignorant in regard to many things” related to education. (FE 310)
Mrs. White was giving serious thought to the proposed Australian facility because she saw the possibility of developing a school outside the sphere of influence of Battle Creek College. In her keynote testimony regarding it, she set the tone for thinking about a new type of Adventist school. It would be a Bible school that emphasized missionary activities and the spiritual side of life. In addition, it would be practical, teach young people how to work, and have a rural location.
After 20 years of trial and error, Ellen White was more convinced than ever regarding the type of education that the church needed. From her growing understanding of her own testimonies during the past two decades, she already had explicitly affirmed that the Bible must be at the center and that Adventist schools should not follow the false leads of classical education. It had, she wrote, “taken a “different order” (6T 126), but the process of understanding and implementing that understanding would develop rapidly between 1894 and 1899.
As we have noted again and again during the past few months, God leads His people step by step. He does not give all understanding at one time. God directs us to the next step at the proper time. So it was in the field of education. By the 1890s, Adventism was ready for an educational revolution.
*“Yesterday’s” devotional was published in the June/July 2021 issue.
George R. Knight is a retired professor of Church History at the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. This article is from his book, Lest We Forget, a daily devotional, published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, p. 305. Reprinted with permission.