From Europe to Australia (1881-1900)
Ellen White Visits Europe
For some time the General Conference had been asking Mrs. White and her son, W. C. White, to visit the European missions. As she prepared for the journey, it seemed to those close to her that her physical condition would make the trip impossible. Obedient, however, to what seemed duty, she embarked on the journey, was given the necessary health, and spent the time from the fall of 1885 to the summer of 1887 in the European countries.
From Basel, Switzerland, then the headquarters of the church's European work, Mrs. White made trips to England, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Of particular interest to her were two trips to the Waldensian valleys in Italy, where she visited places she had seen in vision in connection with the Dark Ages and the Reformation. Both in Basel, Switzerland, and Christiana (now Oslo), Norway, Ellen White recognized the printing presses as those shown her in the vision of January 3, 1875, when she saw many presses operating in lands outside North America. The counsel given by Ellen White to European church workers meant much in the establishment of right policies and plans.
The Great Controversy and Patriarchs and Prophets
Because The Spirit of Prophecy, volume 4, was called for in the European languages, Ellen White felt she must write out more fully the controversy scenes involving places in Europe. The result was the book known today as The Great Controversy, first published in 1888.
Back again in the United States, Ellen White made her home at Healdsburg, California, but attended the General Conference session of 1888 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the following months she traveled and preached, seeking to unify the church on the doctrine of righteousness by faith. During this same period she worked on Patriarchs and Prophets, which appeared in the year 1890.
Called to Australia
At the General Conference session of 1891, Mrs. White was presented with an urgent call to visit Australia to give counsel and assist in church work in that pioneer region. Responding to this appeal, she reached Australia in December, 1891, accompanied by her son, Elder W. C. White, and several of her assistants. Her presence in Australia was much appreciated by the new believers, and her messages of counsel regarding the developing work contributed much to firmly establishing denominational interests in this southern continent. Here again, on her visit to the church's publishing house, Mrs. White recognized printing presses as among those shown her in vision in January, 1875.
Not long after her arrival Ellen White saw clearly the urgent need for an institution of learning in Australia, that Seventh-day Adventist youth might be educated in a Christian environment, and thus workers be trained for service at home and in the island fields. In response to her many strong appeals, a Bible school was opened in the city of Melbourne, Australia, in 1892. The school operated in rented quarters for two years, but during this time earnest written and oral appeals from Mrs. White pointed out that God's plan called for the school to be located in a rural environment.
The Avondale School
When God clearly indicated His approval of the property, the Avondale Estate was secured. Then, to give encouragement to those in this pioneer enterprise, Mrs. White purchased a good-sized lot nearby and made her home near the new school. This school, God indicated, was to be a pattern of what Adventist educational work should be.
In order that the developing work in Australia might be properly administered, in 1894 the territory was organized into a union conference, the first union conference in Seventh-day Adventist history. One who had a part in the administrative work in the newly organized union conference was Elder A. G. Daniells, who, with his wife, had been sent to New Zealand in 1886 as a missionary. His association with Mrs. White, and his adherence to her counsels as he met the growing administrative problems of the field, helped to prepare him for the greater work entrusted to him when, after the General Conference session of 1901, he was chosen president of the General Conference.
Medical Work Begun
As soon as the educational work was well begun at Avondale, appeals were made for establishing a medical missionary program. To this Ellen White not only gave strong moral support but contributed liberally of her limited means to help make a sanitarium possible. In fact, almost every church built and every line of endeavor inaugurated during the nine years of Mrs. White’s residence in Australia benefited from her financial encouragement.
In addition to her many interests in the local work of this pioneer field, Mrs. White found time to write thousands of pages of timely counsel that crossed the seas and guided denominational leaders. She also furnished articles weekly for the Review, Signs,and Instructor. This heavy program greatly delayed her book work, and it was not until 1898 that The Desire of Ages was brought to completion and made its appearance. Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing preceded it by two years, and Christ’s Object Lessons and Testimonies for the Church, volume 6, followed in 1900.
In 1891 Ellen White appealed to church leaders to begin educational and evangelistic work on behalf of the Black race in America's South. Three years later, one of her sons, James Edson White, built a Mississippi River steamboat and used it for about a decade as a floating mission for Blacks in Mississippi and Tennessee. In 1895 and 1896 she wrote articles in the "Review and Herald" continuing to urge that efforts be made for Blacks in the South, and from time to time she sent messages of counsel and encouragement to workers in that field. She gave strong support to the establishment of Oakwood College, in Huntsville, Alabama, which was founded for the purpose of educating young African-Americans. In 1904 she gave a speech to its students and teachers, declaring, "It was God's purpose that the school should be placed here." Throughout the remaining years of her life, she maintained a deep interest and concern for the church work among Blacks in the southern States.