Through the years of experience in dealing with persons who have strayed from the path of moral rectitude, and are in need of shelter and friendship, we have been made to realize in a very definite and practical way that the principles set forth through the writings of the Spirit of prophecy furnish the secret to any degree of success in uplifting the fallen.
On August 4, 1909, Mrs. E. G. White visited the Life Boat Rescue Home, in Hinsdale, Ill., and in the address which she gave at that time the following words of instruction and encouragement were included: "If we see those who have been unfortunate in falling under the power of the enemy of souls, we are not to push them out into the darkness, but we should take them in where they may find a connection with Christ. Those who are united in this work will see that the Lord will bless their efforts that are put forth in kindness and tenderness. For those who have sinned and have made mistakes, there is a Christ to pardon and forgive. . . . Those who are conducting this home are doing an important work, and I believe that as a result of such efforts, many souls will be saved;"
We have witnessed the fulfillment of this statement by the servant of the Lord; for during the intervening years over twelve hundred so-called "fallen" girls have been cared for in the home, and from 80 to 90 percent of these have been restored to an honorable Christian life, and some have accepted present truth.
A wealth of instruction appears in the Testimonies of the Spirit of prophecy available in. printed form. In addition to this a number of statements appearing in unpublished writings have been our constant guide, and these may be of general interest to all who find opportunity to lend a helping hand to those who have fallen.
A few quoted paragraphs follow:
"We are to cultivate sympathy for every soul in trouble, helping them out of the snare of Satan, not pushing them in."—MS. 108, Sept. 1, 1897.
"If a person is in error, be the more kind to him; if you are not courteous, you may drive him away from Christ.
Let every word you speak, even the tones of your voice, express your interest in, and sympathy for, the souls that are in peril."—"Special Testimony for Our Ministers," No. 1, pp. 10, 11.
"Those who are under the pain and distress of their own wrong doing, while Satan is seeking to drive them to despair, are the very ones who need help the most. The intense agony of the soul that has been overcome by Satan and is feeling worsted and helpless—how little is it comprehended by those who should meet the erring one with tender compassion!
"Most pitiable is the condition of one who is suffering under remorse;he is as one stunned, staggering, sinking into the dust. . . . The tried, tempted soul cannot see anything clearly. The mind is confused; he knows not just what steps to take. O, then, let no word be spoken to cause deeper pain!"—"Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers," No. 9, pp. 6, 7.
We have sought to make the home a soul-saving station, a safe refuge from the storms of life. We find that confidence is the key that, unlocks the hardest heart. There is no person who is entirely bad; all have at least one good quality, and often many more. Manifestation of genuine confidence will bring to the surface the good that is hidden and apparently dormant.
Some time ago a mother brought to us her seventeen-year-old daughter, and this was the manner in which she introduced the girl: "I want you to make my girl stay with you, for she is in trouble. She will not do what I want her to do, and I cannot keep her at home any longer." As soon as the mother left, the girl burst into tears, and said, "Nobody cares for me.
I wish I could the. I am no use to anyone." What the girl needed most of all at that time was sympathy and confidence; and by the help of the Lord we were able to make her see that she was needed, and that she had a real mission in life; and soon her life was transformed from stubborn selfishness into a sweet Christian character. Later she died with full trust in Christ.
Not only is it essential to manifest confidence in each person, but the history of each case must be kept in strict confidence. To betray the confidence of one who confides in us is an error of the gravest nature, which requires confession to God and the individual wronged. Why hang a millstone about a person's neck to drag still farther down to perdition, when the Christian is commissioned to lend a helping hand upward, and lead to the mercy seat for pardon and forgiveness? The breaking of any one of the commandments in the decalogue is sin, and we are not justified in saying that one sin is more serious than another. Sin is sin, no matter where found, and must not be excused; but it must always be remembered that the Lord loves the sinner and has died for him.
There came to us at one time a young woman from a very superior family. She was determined to keep her story locked within her breast, and it seemed impossible to make much headway in dealing with her. When she left us, I expressed my desire to be her friend, and assured her of my confidence. This brought a response by letter, to the effect that if I, knowing all I did regarding her, could still love her, she felt that it would be worthwhile to put forth the effort required for her transformation of life. She said, "I shall not be discouraged as long as you do not fail me." That young woman made a desperate effort, and won out. Another young woman, who is now a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said to our matron, "Mrs. Brown, I tremble when I think of the way you and your husband followed after me with the truth. You would not let me go; and when I was sick you cared and prayed for me, as only parents can. That is why I am rejoicing in the truth."
It is always essential to be true and sincere in our dealings with the wayward. They watch to detect any insincerity on the part of those who are seeking to befriend them, and they are very keen observers. Love and perseverance will win.
* Editor, Life Boat magazine, and superintendent of West Suburban Borne (formerly known as the Life Boat Rescue Home).