Rediscovering Our Adventist Pioneer Spirit
One of the gifts I received this past Christmas was the first volume of the book Heart Warming Stories of Adventist Pioneers. What a thrilling and inspiring volume! The author, Norma J. Collins, opens the window for us to catch a glimpse of well-known pioneers such as William Miller, Joseph Bates, James and Ellen White, Uriah Smith, and John Nevins Andrews. She also gives us a peek at less-known pioneers like Heman Gurney and Annie Smith.
Our Adventist pioneers lived and served by some incredible spiritual values. They are values that we as Adventists would do well to live by in these last days of Earth's history.
I think of the pioneers' practice of prayer and Bible study. As you know, the Holy Spirit was opening to them new vistas of understanding relating to the great themes of Scripture that we hold dear today. There were times when they would spend entire nights poring over the pages of the Bible. They would bathe these nights and days of spiritual feasting in prayer, asking for enlightenment and understanding. They were thrilled when the Holy Spirit would open to them new light in understanding the precious truths of Scripture including the Sabbath, the Second Coming of Jesus, the pre-advent judgment, and the heavenly sanctuary.
Our pioneers had a sense of urgency about the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ. They were passionate in sharing the good news of His return. They knew that Jesus was coming again, and they believed that He was coming soon.
I admire their sense of calling and mission. They knew that the Holy Spirit had given them a most precious message to preach to the world. The calling that God had placed on their lives was clear to them. Their singular mission was to share the biblical Adventist message with every human being in the United States and around the world. They did not have automobiles, airplanes, television, satellites and the Internet to help them fulfill the mission to which God had called them. The message was shared personally as they traveled on foot and by horse and buggy, train, and ship. They accomplished God's mission by great sacrifice.
I am intrigued by the spirit of sacrifice exhibited by our pioneers. They had little means compared to our standards today. And yet, they did not let that stop them. They had great faith in God that He would supply what was needed to accomplish that which God had asked them to do. They often gave all they had to fulfill the calling and mission God had placed on their lives.
I am reminded of the spirit of sacrifice shown by Joseph Bates. His goal was to retire from his occupation as a sea captain when he had saved $10,000. That was a fortune in the early 1800s. True to his plan, he retired when he had amassed his fortune. In her book, Collins shares how Bates learned of the Millerite Advent message. She states, "This was exciting news to Joseph Bates, and he threw all his energies, as well as his money, into the work of spreading the good news that Jesus was coming soon. He now devoted his carefully accumulated fortune to preaching the Advent message."1
In this 21st century, I believe that God is raising up pioneers for these last days of Earth's history. He is calling His church to spiritual revival and reformation that includes a renewed hunger for Bible study and prayer. He is calling local church pastors, Bible workers, school teachers, lay people, young people and children to a life of service and mission, to passionately share the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and the good news of His Second Coming. It is a calling to go where He asks us to go and to do what He asks us to do regardless of the cost.
Will you join me in accepting His invitation to be such a pioneer?
1 Collins, Norma J. Heartwarming Stories of Adventist Pioneers. Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Association, 2005. 45. Print.