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Children were both a source of light and sorrow for the early Adventists.
In this child’s bedroom you can see evidence of how many families Ellen White invited to stay for a period of time. Even her own grandchildren spent nights here, playing with the dolls on the bedspread and filling Sunnyside with their exuberant joy.
But many families known to the church were losing their precious children. Even some who came to Australia in search of a brighter future were finding themselves with little hope upon arrival. The Pococks, were one such family. They came from England, only to fall on hard times when John, the father, lost his job and couldn’t provide for his wife and many children. Mrs White, and her assistant Sarah McInterfer, immediately began looking for work for John, and providing baskets of food and second-hand clothing to support the family.
Finally, things began looking up, and John moved the family to Cooranbong, only for tragedy to strike once more as their son passed away. Today, his grave is one of the earliest in the Cooranbong cemetery.
Though tragic, and unfortunate, the plights of such families, and the children she helped daily reminded Mrs White of the importance of the next generation to the continuation of ministry.
As it was her custom to take walks, Mrs White often took large portions of her day to go out into the bush and clear a space where she could build up sticks and debris into a small campfire. Here she would wait until little faces started to appear out of the bush, and a group of small, dirty children would come to sit by the fire.
Knowing her as ‘aunty Ellen’ the children stayed with her and listened with rapt attention as she told Bible stories and expounded tales of the life of Jesus and the miracles he had done. More than any sermon, this quiet time of storytelling grew in them a love of God and an appreciation of the Advent message.
To them, Mrs White was their teacher and friend.
She writes, “Those who love God should feel deeply interested in the children and youth. To them, God can reveal His truth and salvation. Jesus calls His little ones who believe in Him the lambs of His flock. He has special love for and interest in the children…the most precious offering that the children can give to Jesus is the freshness of their childhood.”