J. N. Andrews—The Ablest Man
After John Andrews met Jesus, there seemed to be no stopping him! Over the next five years he wore himself out traveling all over the country. He was seeking the lost! No, he had no car, nor buggy, or even a horse, but he walked. He traveled thousands of miles in the hottest weather, and then in the coldest weather; he didn’t even think about his clothes or food or where he would stay that night. He had one burning desire, to reach as many as possible with the gospel of Christ. At first, he was traveling alone through Maine, and later, with Joseph Bates, they went to many of the Eastern states.
In 1852, Andrews had a very interesting encounter with J. N. Loughbourough, who was a preacher for the Sundaykeeping Adventists. Some of Loughborough’s members wanted him to go hear what this young man Andrews had to say and to point out his errors. Loughborough decided that might be a good idea, so he went, armed with Bible texts to prove his points. He could not believe his ears, the young Andrews used every one of his texts to prove his own points. Amazing! Loughborough thought, as he went home and restudied his texts, and not long afterward, he joined with the Sabbathkeepers. In the years ahead, he and Andrews worked together and were always good friends.
Not long afterward, Andrews and Hiram Edson began working together. Edson was a farmer who turned preacher after his convictions on the Heavenly Sanctuary. They used Edson’s horse and buggy, visiting the new states in the West, and covered up to 600 miles in six weeks! But, Andrews was not taking care of himself at all, eating so sparsely he was very thin and had a bad cough, yet he pushed himself to the limit. In the day, he preached, and far into the night, he wrote articles for the Review. Edson told him over and over that he was working too hard, but Andrews felt as driven as the apostle Paul, saying “How can I rest when souls are perishing?”
Edson would often wake in the night, and hear Andrews praying for help with the work, and pleading for many he was burdened for, such as O.R.L. Crozier, and T.M. Preble. Why, Crozier had once kept the Sabbath, and now was a bitter enemy! And, it was Preble’s tract that had convinced Andrews and his family of the Sabbath! How could these things happen? How could they fall away from the truths they knew? He wrote to these deluded men, saying, “I have loved you both for the testimony you once bore to the truth of God. My heart has bled to witness your strange course, but I leave you to the mercy of God, whose commandments you dare to fight.”
But, no one can burn the candle at both ends indefinitely, and John Andrews’ candle finally burned into the center. His health was broken, and he was forced to head home. When he got to Rochester, NY, he went to where the publishing work was beginning. James White happened to look out the window and saw a bent, haggard man leaning hard on a cane to steady himself. James thought he looked familiar, so he came outside to speak to him. The man looked up, and saw that James did not recognize him, so Andrews asked, “Don’t you know me?” His voice was weak, but James recognized it, but there was nothing else about this very sick and broken man he could recognize.
James hurried him into the house, where the workers soon had a warm meal fixed for Andrews. James got him bathed, and into one of his clean nightshirts, and Andrews
sank into a warm comfortable bed. He was so sick and so exhausted that it took nearly three months for him to recover enough to continue on to his home.
When his mother and father saw him, they could not believe this thin, bent man was the same tall, straight son who had gone off to preach five years before. It was Spring-time, and with the sunshine and fresh air on the farm, his mother’s good cooking and finally, hard work when he could do it, were just what John needed. In addition, he and Angeline Stevens, who he had known in years past, renewed their friendship.
In 1852, the Andrews family and some others of the believers decided to move west to Iowa. It was not easy to leave the land they had farmed for so long, but eventually, about 30 believers moved to the small town of Waukon, Iowa. Among them, were the Cyprian Stevens family, as well as J.N. Loughborough and his wife, and some of their neighbors. James White told them, “The work needed to win one convert in the East will bring in 20 in the West, the harvest field is wide open to you, and the people will listen to our message.” It was here in Waukon, Iowa that John Andrews and Angeline Stevens were married on October 29, 1856.
However, living conditions were harder in Iowa than the Adventist settlers had first imagined and they were failing in their aim to share their faith with their neighbors. It seemed that day-by-day living was so hard that there was no energy left over to interact much with others. It was then that God showed Ellen White in vision that her testimony was needed in Waukon.
So it was that the infamous crossing of the Mississippi came about, for even as the ice melted underfoot and water stood 12 inches deep on top of the ice, they made their dash across. Josiah Hart was driving the sleigh which carried James and Ellen White, and at the edge of the wide river he asked, “Is it Iowa, or back to Illinois?” Now, Ellen had prayed all of the night before, listening to the rain falling on creaking river ice as it was melting. So, her answer was sure: “Go forward, trusting in Israel’s God.”
Things did not begin well in Waukon, but with the messages that Ellen brought from God, the attitude of the Waukon residents began to change. Many souls were reclaimed by the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. People confessed and apologized for wrongs and hurts done to each other, and both J. N. Andrews and J. N. Loughgorough renewed their commitments to God and His service. Andrews stayed on in Waukon for another two years, preaching in the surrounding area.
Taken and compiled from Light Bearers,
Stories of Pioneers, Life Sketches
Submitted by Dorothy Dunbar