Adventism On The Move7: Rhodesia


Nov. 11 - Adventism On The Move7: Rhodesia




I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did
not ask for inc. Rom. 10:20, RSV.

With Ellen White's pointing out that Nehemiah had "prayed to God for help, and God heard his prayer" and "moved upon heathen kings to come to his help" (Lt 11, 1895) the General Conference reversed its ruling against accepting the Solusi gift. Thus the internal challenge to the mission had been overcome.

But the political situation remained. Not long after the arrival of the missionaries the recently conquered Matabele tribe revolted against the British, causing the missionaries to withdraw for five months. And if that wasn't problem enough, soon after their return they had to face a famine among the local people and an outbreak of rinderpest, which destroyed the few mission cattle that had survived the recent war.

And the mission encountered yet another serious problem--malaria. I still remember standing by the little graveyard at what is today Solusi University. Nearly all of the original missionaries had died because they had refused to take quinine, the only known preventative of malaria in the 1890s.

Why had they refused to use the life saving medicine? Because, not fully understanding
the context of Ellen White's counsel against taking harmful drugs, they inflexibly rejected
the one thing that could have helped them. They were "faithful health reformers" unto death.

Of the original seven who had arrived in 1894, only three survived in 1898, and two of those were at the Cape recovering from malaria.

The remaining missionary had been the "unfaithful" one. He had used quinine on the basis that taking some of a harmful drug was better than remaining vulnerable to the full force of a lethal disease. He was in effect using the "common sense" that Ellen White advocated in such difficult situations. As a result, he continued to serve and witness at Solusi Mission.

As of 2007 that toehold in Africa has grown to more than 5 million baptized believers in the three world divisions of the church that serve that continent. The lessons for us surrounding the Solusi Mission are many. One of the most important is that God is still leading His church in spite of the flawed humans He has chosen to use in His work.


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Lord, we live in a complex world. Please help us in our struggles to keep both eyes open, along with the eye offaith.