As far back as I can remember, my mother has always played an active role in serving within both the Junior and Senior Sabbath School class. I have fond memories of her teaching the little ones while we attended Riverside SDA Church in South Africa. When I was ten years old, we relocated to the northern suburbs and began attending Kraaifontein SDA Church. As a young child, I thoroughly enjoyed attending Junior Sabbath School. I also remember my mother teaching us about the early church reformers during one quarter. Every Sabbath, our childlike minds would be amazed, as my mother would teach us about John Wycliff, John Huss, Martin Luther, William Miller, Ellen G. White, etc. I was particularly intrigued by tales of the Waldensians. During my Pathfinder years, we touched on the teachings of Ellen G. White, but I do not have any specific memories of anything profound that I learnt. What seemed much more fun for me as a teenager was to attend Pathfinder classes, do first aid and semaphore, go hiking and camping, etc. Quite frankly, many years went by, and I never really had any particular interest to read the writings of Ellen G. White. I read books like Steps to Christ and Desire of Ages as a teenager, but mainly due to these books falling under the banner of “required” readings.
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that when he was a child, he spoke and thought like a child, but when he became older, he put aside childish things. I could resonate with this particular verse because as I transitioned into my twenties, I started maturing cognitively and spiritually as well. I moved onto reading other books by Ellen White, such as Child Guidance, Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, among others. This time it was my choice and not merely a requirement. In my twenties, I read about a quarter of The Great Controversy, but I needed a dictionary to understand a lot of the lexicon which the author used. Eventually, I simply gave up reading this book. However, last year, I began rereading The Great Controversy. I coupled my readings with listening to particular podcasts from LightBearers, e.g. The Reformation Series and Table Talk. For some years, my general interest in watching movies and series had declined. I preferred listening to and watching sermons which would edify my mind; I especially enjoy listening to sermons by David Asscherick, Ty Gibson, James Rafferty, and Jeffrey Rossario – some of the LightBearers‘ presenters for the ARISE school. On my morning drives to work, I would always have a sermon playing, or a lesson by Hope Sabbath School, or 3ABN. It is imperative for me to connect with God every day, and I’m very intentional about doing this. I absolutely love filling up my mind with information which is cognitively and spiritually edifying.
At the beginning of Lockdown in South Africa due to COVID-19 regulations, I made a personal decision to try to get through as many Ellen G. White books as possible. I would read a few passages now and then; sometimes, I would get onto my treadmill and listen to the audio versions. Whenever I went grocery shopping, I had my headphones on, and most of the time, I would be listening to an Ellen G. White audiobook. During Lockdown, I had to transition to online teaching, along with many other educators. I took the opportunity to continue having short personal devotions with my students before commencing each lesson. I would usually share what I have learnt. I also shared my own experiences regarding my walk with God. With regards to my students, I don’t think that it is very wise to spend an excessive amount of time focussing on the writings of Ellen G. White, as I am not a Theology lecturer. However, in my Psychology modules, I would briefly weave in something from her writings which would somehow link to the topic in the lesson.
I believe that we are blessed to have books by this great author. It is imperative for us as Seventh-day Adventists to empower ourselves with the knowledge which is found within the pages of Ellen G. White writings. While I can never tell people, especially my students, what to do, e.g. forcing them to read these books, I can definitely share snippets of what I have learnt, and I can share how enriched my life has been since I started on this journey
Written by: Olivia Bomester
Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology,
Helderberg College of Higher Education South Africa