What can make a chaplain's heart more grateful than to hear expressions of appreciation for what our sanitariums are striving to accomplish? To have words of praise for our medical institutions falling on one's ears in almost a constant stream day after day is an experience which must be had to be appreciated. One comes to believe that there is something genuinely worthwhile in this old world, to which he can devote his energies. Generally adverse criticism is what we expect to hear from patients who are sick and despondent, but when men and women continually praise our doctors and nurses and other workers for "such helpful Christian ways," we feel that the praise is truly sincere.
I think of one woman, a Jewess, who was earnestly seeking a knowledge of the Jesus of the New Testament, which she read eagerly. I found her so deeply affected by the story of our Lord that it made me feel that I was but a cold and formal Christian. Jesus seemed real to her, not just a character in a story. The account of His pure life, unjust punishment, and ignominious death affected her as though it had all happened to a near relative of hers. She asked for studies, but because of her physical condition, together with her fears and prejudices, we could give her only one. However, the seed was sown, and we hope for results later.
Before leaving the sanitarium, she had read Ministry of Healing and expressed deep appreciation for it. I am sure her praise of the Christian conduct of all "from doctor to maid," as she put it, and her statement that we lived up to high standards of righteousness, were sincere.
Recently a woman who sat at my table talked so easily of the helpers in the dining room and kitchen 'going to camp meeting," that I watched her conversations more closely. Later the truth came out. Years ago I had sold Heralds of the Morning in the town where she then lived. Mention of the name of one of our sisters led her to say, "She was my Sabbath school teacher when I was a girl." Her fervent and humble confession of having strayed away, and her earnest desire to return to the truth were touching indeed. We are now sending her the Signs.
An answer to one of the letters our department sent out soliciting gifts for Ingathering may be of interest as showing the attitude of satisfied patients toward our work. This man has been in contact with St. Helena Sanitarium for over fifty years, and therefore knows our work. He wrote as follows:
"My Dear Pastor:
"Yours of May 18 received, and I wish to assure you that it is a pleasure to do my bit toward the grand work that you and yours are doing. I am looking forward, cheerfully, with the expectation of spending my declining years with you in one of the most lovely homes it has been my lot to have known. I wish you and your organization continued prosperity."
The St. Helena Sanitarium church had its first baptism in its new baptistry, recently installed. The first one baptized was an aged woman of eighty-seven, who has been with us for some time, and who first came here over sixty years ago. It was through one of our consecrated doctors that the beginning of the salvation of this sister came about. A lady physician in the city where she lived, who was loyal to the full message, ministered to her soul's needs as well as to those of the body.
The seed of God's Word lay seemingly dormant through the years, but loyalty to our institution knew no diminution. This lady returned to be a permanent guest, and finally made a complete surrender to Jesus. I cannot think of ever witnessing a more remarkable change of mind attended with such beneficial results as in this sister. She expressed such satisfaction and seemed so happy after the final step of baptism and joining the church had been taken. Her sincerity is proved by the liberal way in which she supports our various church activities.
Not only do we make friends with those who come, but their relatives and acquaintances are led to feel that we are doing a fine work. Recently one of our college professors was traveling by bus and got into conversation with his seatmate, who, when he found out that our brother came. from near the sanitarium, said he had a relative who had been a guest at the institution. Then he stated that he was an attorney to one of the high officials of California, and concluded by saying, "If you ever get into any legal difficulties there at the sanitarium, just let me know. I'll take care of the matter without charge."
We ask the question, "How are these patients so impressed that they so freely pass on these expressions of appreciation?" We might well find the answer in a letter written to one of our nurses by a former guest:
"One of my very nicest memories is the kindness you showed me while I was at St, Helena Sanitarium, and what is even more pleasant, your remembering me with still more kindnesses after I went home. The actions of your religion speak louder than your words, and that is an unusual circumstance—unusual as far as my experience has been."
In Volume IV of the Testimonies, we read: "The religion of Christ, exemplified in the daily life of His followers, will exert a tenfold greater influence than the most eloquent sermons."—Page 547-548.
When those who are connected with our sanitariums continue to live the Christ-life, there will go forth hundreds of patients who will have an abiding impression such as expressed in this paragraph in a letter received from a former guest:
"The past week I have been living over my days spent at the sanitarium—beautiful St. Helena. Everyone was so kind and nice. The surroundings were so different from those we see in the city. It seemed like another world."
Truly our sanitariums can be witnesses for God in these last days.