Some Key Thoughts from Ellen White on City Evangelism
The Urgent Need of Sharing the Gospel Message
When I think of the cities in which so little has been done, in which there are so many thousands to be warned of the soon coming of the Saviour, I feel an intensity of desire to see men and women going forth to the work in the power of the Spirit, filled with Christ's love for perishing souls. . . .
We all need to be wide awake, that, as the way opens, we may advance the work in the large cities. We are far behind in following the light given to enter these cities and erect memorials for God. Step by step we are to lead souls into the full light of truth. And we are to continue the work until a church is organized and a humble house of worship built.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 40. (1902)
Oh, that we might see the needs of these cities as God sees them! At such a time as this every hand is to be employed. The Lord is coming; the end is near, yea, it hasteth greatly!--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 101. (1909)
There is means now tied up that should be in use for the unworked cities in Europe, Australia, and America, and in the regions beyond. These cities have been neglected for years. The angels of God are waiting for us to give our labors for their inhabitants. From town to town, from city to city, from country to country, the warning message is to be proclaimed, not with outward display, but in the power of the Spirit, by men of faith.--Evangelism, p. 428. (1908)
A Task Requiring United Efforts
In connection with the proclamation of the message in large cities, there are many kinds of work to be done by laborers with varied gifts. Some are to labor in one way, some in another. The Lord desires that the cities shall be worked by the united efforts of laborers of different capabilities. All are to look to Jesus for direction, not depending on man for wisdom, lest they be led astray. As laborers together with God they should seek to be in harmony with one another. There should be frequent councils and earnest, wholehearted co-operation. Yet all are to look to Jesus for wisdom, not depending upon men alone for direction.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 109. (1909)
The Lord is calling upon the men and women who have the light of truth for this time to engage in genuine, personal missionary work. Especially are the church members living in the cities to exercise, in all humility, their God-given talents in laboring with those who are willing to hear the message that should come to the world at this time. There are great blessings in store for those who fully surrender to the call of God. As such workers undertake to win souls for Jesus, they will find that many who never could be reached in any other way will respond to intelligent personal effort.--Medical Ministry, p. 332. (1910)
The ordained ministers alone are not equal to the task of warning the great cities. God is calling not only upon ministers, but also upon physicians, nurses, colporteurs, Bible workers, and other consecrated laymen of varied talent who have a knowledge of the word of God and who know the power of His grace, to consider the needs of the unwarned cities. Time is rapidly passing, and there is much to be done. Every agency must be set in operation, that present opportunities may be wisely improved.--The Acts of the Apostles, p. 158. (1911)
In every large city there should be corps of organized, well-disciplined workers; not merely one or two, but scores should be set to work. But the perplexing question is yet unsolved, how they will be sustained. . . .
More attention should be given to training and educating missionaries with a special reference to work in the cities. Each company of workers should be under the direction of a competent leader, and it should ever be kept before them that they are to be missionaries in the highest sense of the term. Such systematic labor, wisely conducted, would produce blessed results.- --Medical Ministry, pp. 300, 301. (1892)
Young men and women should be educated to become workers in their own neighborhoods and in other places. Let all set their hearts and minds to become intelligent in regard to the work for this time, qualifying themselves to do that for which they are best adapted.
Many young men who have had the right kind of education at home are to be trained for service and encouraged to lift the standard of truth in new places by well-planned and faithful work. By associating with our ministers and experienced workers in city work, they will gain the best kind of training. Acting under divine guidance and sustained by the prayers of their more experienced fellow workers, they may do a good and blessed work. As they unite their labors with those of the older workers, using their youthful energies to the very best account, they will have the companionship of heavenly angels; and as workers together with God, it is their privilege to sing and pray and believe, and work with courage and freedom. . . .
There should be no delay in this well-planned effort to educate the church members. Persons should be chosen to labor in the large cities who are fully consecrated and who understand the sacredness and importance of the work. Do not send those who are not qualified in these respects. Men are needed who will push the triumphs of the cross, who will persevere under discouragements and privations, who will have the zeal and resolution and faith that are indispensable to the missionary field.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 118, 119. (1909)
Churches, Restaurants, and
Missions to be Established in the Cities
We must do more than we have done to reach the people of our cities. We are not to erect large buildings in the cities, but over and over again the light has been given me that we should establish in all our cities small plants which shall be centers of influence.
The Lord has a message for our cities, and this message we are to proclaim in our camp meetings and by other public efforts and also through our publications. In addition to this, hygienic restaurants are to be established in the cities, and by them the message of temperance is to be proclaimed. Arrangements should be made to hold meetings in connection with our restaurants. Whenever possible, let a room be provided where the patrons can be invited to lectures on the science of health and Christian temperance, where they can receive instruction on the preparation of wholesome food and on other important subjects. In these meetings there should be prayer and singing and talks, not only on health and temperance topics, but also on other appropriate Bible subjects. As the people are taught how to preserve physical health, many opportunities will be found to sow the seeds of the gospel of the kingdom.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 115. (1902)
In every city there should be a city mission, that would be a training school for workers. Many of our brethren must stand condemned in the sight of God because they have not done the very work that God would have them do.
If our brethren will use their God-given ability to warn the cities, angels of God will surely go before them to make the impression upon the hearts of the people for whom they labor. The Lord has many thousands who have never bowed the knee to Baal. Let not our ministers and our physicians fail nor be discouraged.--Medical Ministry, pp. 303, 304. (1910)
Repeatedly the Lord has instructed us that we are to work the cities from outpost centers. In these cities we are to have houses of worship, as memorials for God; but institutions for the publication of our literature, for the healing of the sick, and for the training of workers, are to be established outside the cities. Especially is it important that our youth be shielded from the temptations of city life.--Selected Messages, book 2, p. 358. (1907)
Much more can be done to save and educate the children of those who at present cannot get away from the cities. This is a matter worthy of our best efforts. Church schools are to be established for the children in the cities, and in connection with these schools provision is to be made for the teaching of higher studies, where these are called for.--Child Guidance, p. 306. (1903)
As far as possible, our institutions should be located away from the cities. We must have workers for these institutions, and if they are located in the city, that means that families of our people must settle near them. But it is not God's will that His people shall settle in the cities, where there is constant turmoil and confusion. Their children should be spared this; for the whole system is demoralized by the hurry and rush and noise. The Lord desires His people to move into the country, where they can settle on the land, and raise their own fruit and vegetables, and where their children can be brought in direct contact with the works of God in nature. Take your families away from the cities is my message.
The truth must be spoken, whether men will hear, or whether men will forbear. The cities are filled with temptation. We should plan our work in such a way as to keep our young people as far as possible from this contamination.
The cities are to be worked from outposts. Said the messenger of God, "Shall not the cities be warned? Yes; not by God's people living in them, but by their visiting them, to warn them of what is coming upon the earth."--Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 357, 358. (1902)
God has sent warning after warning that our schools and publishing houses and sanitariums are to be established out of the city, in places where the youth may be taught most effectively what is truth. Let no one attempt to use the Testimonies to vindicate the establishment of large business interests in the cities. Do not make of no effect the light that has been given upon this subject.
Men will arise speaking perverse things, to counterwork the very movements that the Lord is leading His servants to make. But it is time that men and women reasoned from cause to effect. It is too late, too late, to establish large business firms in the cities--too late to call young men and women from the country to the city. Conditions are arising in the cities that will make it very hard for those of our faith to remain in them. It would therefore be a great mistake to invest money in the establishment of business interests in the cities.--Selected Messages, book 2, p. 357. (1905)
Believers Should Plan to Leave Cities as the Way Opens
More and more, as time advances, our people will have to leave the cities. For years we have been instructed that our brethren and sisters, and especially families with children, should plan to leave the cities as the way opens before them to do so. Many will have to labor earnestly to help open the way. But until it is possible for them to leave, so long as they remain, they should be most active in doing missionary work, however limited their sphere of influence may be. As they yield their talents and their all to God to be used as he may direct; as they live out their consecration by engaging in practical missionary work wherever opportunity affords, God will bless them with wisdom and discretion, and in his own way and time he will make it possible for them to place themselves where they will not be surrounded constantly with the contaminating influences of modern city life.--Review and Herald, September 27, 1906.
God's Blessing Will Overcome Difficulties
In visions of the night I was shown the difficulties that must be met in the work of warning the people in the cities; but in spite of difficulties and discouragement, efforts should be made to preach the truth to all classes. . . .
As I consider the conditions in the cities that are so manifestly under the power of Satan, I ask myself the question, What will be the end of these things? The wickedness in many cities is increasing. Crime and iniquity are at work on every hand. New species of idolatry are continually being introduced into society. In every nation the minds of men are turning to the invention of some new thing. Rashness of deed and confusion of mind are everywhere increasing. Surely the cities of the earth are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah.
As a people we need to hasten the work in the cities, which has been hindered for lack of workers and means and a spirit of consecration. At this time, the people of God need to turn their hearts fully to him; for the end of all things is at hand. They need to humble their minds, and to be attentive to the will of the Lord, working with earnest desire to do that which God has shown must be done to warn the cities of their impending doom. . . .
The Lord desires his people to arise and do their appointed work. The responsibility of warning the world rests not upon the ministry alone. The lay members of the church are to share in the work of soul-saving. By means of missionary visits and by a wise distribution of our literature, many who have never been warned, may be reached. Let companies be organized to search for souls. Let the church-members visit their neighbors and open to them the Scriptures. Some may be set to work in the hedges, and thus, by wise planning, the truth may be preached in all districts. With perseverance in this work, increasing aptitude for it will come, and many will see fruit of their labors in the salvation of souls. These converted ones will, in turn, teach others. Thus the seed will be sown in many places, and the truth be proclaimed to all.--Review and Herald, January 25, 1912.