"Dear Brethren and Sisters: The treasury in the Poor Fund, consisting of clothes, et cetera, for those in need, is nearly exhausted. And as there are cases of destitution continually arising, and one new one has arisen recently, I thought it would be well for those who have clothing, bedding, or money to spare to send it on here immediately. We hope there will be no delay, for we are going to assist some that are needy as soon as we get things together. Send your donations to Sr. Uriah Smith or myself ." Welfare Ministry, p. 325.
The "Poor Fund," mentioned by Ellen White, belonged to the Battle Creek Adventists among whom a simple plan of organized assistance for needy families, Adventists or not, seems to have been a tradition.
Mrs. White's statement written so long ago that "there are cases of destitution continually arising, and one new one has arisen recently," testifies to the truthfulness of the words of Jesus, "Ye have the poor with you always" (Mark 14:7). What is true of those who are chronically poor is true also of the acutely poor whose property, including house, automobile, and all earthly possessions, has vanished in a flood, or crumbled literally upon the heads of their owners in a disastrous earthquake or hurricane. Disaster relief for the newly made poor is also a tradition with Adventists, and it is basically a Christian concept.
When Ellen G. White's work took her to Australia in 1891 she came face to face with starvation there. In a letter written in 1894 she wrote, "We purchase wood from our brethren who are farmers, and we try to give their sons and daughters employment. But we need a large charitable fund upon which to draw to keep families from starvation." — Welfare Ministry, p. 329.
Ellen White's solicitous interest and care for people in situations of destitution, poverty, or extreme need are worth repeating.
"Will you please inquire of Brother ____ in regard to the clothing that he requires, and what he needs please furnish to him, and charge the same to my account. He has not received his trunk, and I fear he may suffer for the want of necessary changes." —Ibid.
The concept of sacrifice was deeply in grained in the White family and the pioneers of this message. Money was given not simply for the support of the ministry and the building of churches, but the early workers sacrificed of their meager possessions to obtain means with which to help the less fortunate.
Listen to this from a letter written in 1894: "We live economically in every way and make a study of how every penny is to be laid out. . . . We make over and over our clothing, patching and enlarging garments in order to make them wear a little longer, so that we can supply with clothing those who are more needy. One of our brethren in Ormondville, who is an intelligent carpenter, could not go forward in baptism because he had not a change of clothing. When he was able to get a cheap suit he was the most grateful man I ever saw, because he could then go forward in the ordinance of baptism." —Ibid., p. 328.
Ellen White did not give away her old clothes feeling that these might help the poor. She bought new, strong, durable clothes and placed them in the hands of the needy. In this way she did not have to give the oldest clothing she had, thus making them feel they could not use the clothing because it was patched and old. She esteemed others better than herself and went the second mile in welfare re lief.
The spirit of sacrifice and devotion to the needs of human beings, whether in times of disaster or personal disasters that might occur every day, is Christian in the truest sense.