James and Ellen—Their Personal Story

Part Two


James and Ellen received a marvelous gift for their first wedding anniversary.  Four days before, God gave them a precious little boy.  Like all mothers, nineteen-year-old Ellen probably wished that she might have pretty baby things and a lovely room for her little Henry Nichols.  Instead, the little family didn’t even have a home in which to live.


But, before baby Henry was two months old, their friends, the Howlands, invited them to share the upstairs rooms of their large farm home in Topsham, Maine.  Mrs. Howland told her neighbors of her plans, and they brought in old chairs, a table and bed, an assortment of dishes, and a wood-burning cookstove.  The place was very simple, yet Ellen was thrilled; it was their first home.


In those days Adventist preachers received no money, and due to the almost constant travel of the past year, they had nothing of their own.  But, James came in a few days later, bringing good news.  “Ellen!” James said, “I have a job, it’s a tough one, hauling stone for a railroad cut, but at least we’ll have some income!”  So, James worked cheerfully for his little family, but when he had completed the job, his employer had no money with which to pay him.  Also, there was very little left in the house to eat.


So, in spite of a lame ankle and a recurring pain in his side, with a sharpened ax, James went to cut cordwood for fifty cents a day.  The Howlands were poor too, but they shared what they could, but the day came when they were out of food.   Early the next morning, James decided to walk to Brunswick, collect his small wages, and go to the village store.  Though the rain fell heavily that morning, James sloshed on.


At the store, carrying an empty flour sack, he went from one barrel to another, selecting the needed items that were needed at home.  After wrapping each item separately, and tying strings around the sack to make separate compartments, he threw the lumpy sack over his back, and walked through the village.  James was not concerned how he looked, he was hurrying home to his wife and baby.  Squishing through the mud, limping all the way, he sang to cheer his sagging spirits.


Exhausted, but happy, he entered the house singing, “I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger;  I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.” He was dripping wet, and Ellen rushed to get him some dry clothes, saying  “James, have we come to this?  Has the Lord left us?”  Soon afterward, Ellen regretted that she had sunk under discouragement.  She saw that ‘suffering and trials bring us near to Jesus.  The furnace consumes the dross and brightens the gold.’  She was shown that the Lord had been trying them to prepare them to labor for others.


Soon after this, the Whites received letters from brethren in different states, inviting them to visit them; but they had no money and their reply was that the way was not open to them.  Also, Ellen thought it would be impossible for her to travel with her small son.


But, little Henry became very sick, and grew worse so fast they were alarmed.  Nothing they did seemed to help.  They had prayed for him, but they began to question, “Could we have made our precious baby an excuse not to do God’s will?”  Once more they went before the Lord, praying that He would have compassion upon them, and spare the life of the child. Then, they solemnly pledged themselves to go wherever He might send them.  From that hour the child began to recover.

References: “Why Me, Lord?”   

Life sketches-EG White    

By Dorothy Dunbar