The Great Crisis
In Great Britain
In the United States
in Russia there was a minority of Adventist believers who, because
of religious convictions, refused to take part in the war. We
read in an Adventist book:
time after the war broke out, our leaders in Russia learned that
the government had sentenced about seventy of our brethren to
hard labor in chains, with terms of from two to sixteen
years. Thousands of young men of other denominations were
serving similar sentences. But Gods loving eye was following
these suffering Christians. He saw their fettered hands and heard
their cries of anguish. He brought deliverance in an unexpected
way. The régime of the ages went down, a new one was set
up, and . . . the new government issued decrees for the
liberation of conscientious objectors and their exemption from
the using of arms." Matilda Erickson Andross,
Story of the Advent Message, pp. 173, 174.
these 70, there must have been other true Adventists whose faith
and courage were severely tried.
new convert, whose heart was filled with the first love, proved
to be a hero among other heroes of the faith. After he was released
from prison, he told his story:
had tried to explain that it was against my religious principles
to carry arms, but that I would serve my country to the best of
my ability in any other capacity. But nobody paid any attention.
At last our company was called out, and we were lined up before
the long line of arms. The order was given to pick up guns. There
was a gun lying before each man. All bent over at the command.
Only I remained standing there erect, praying earnestly for sufficient
grace to be given at this crucial moment.
officer quickly asked, Did you not understand?
an affirmative answer from me, he asked again, Well, is
it not necessary then to obey orders? and angrily, What
is this new idea?
this time all eyes were fixed on me. I felt that I must reply,
but as I began to speak, the officer commanded me to take the
gun, no talking being necessary.
cannot, I said.
quickly drew out his sword, holding it in a position to strike,
and said angrily, You know the law.
turning to an underofficer, he said, I shall kill him, for
I must be obeyed.
really expected the sword to come down on my neck in one fatal
blow, and yet someway I was not one bit afraid. That uplifted
sword meant no more to me than if it were a piece of paper. For
some moments he maintained this position. Then as if he had a
command to sheathe his swordI doubt not that it was a real
command from our heavenly Fatherhe lowered his sword and
ordered some soldiers to take me to the lockup.
was February, and very cold. The prison to which I was taken was
an old broken-down place. Everything was taken away from me but
my Bible and an old, worn-out blanket, which was altogether insufficient
covering when wrapped about me on the cold bare floor, with blasts
of winter coming in through many crevices. I took a severe cold,
and began coughing blood . . . and I was released without further
or six days later all the soldiers in our barracks were awakened
at night by an officer who brought in a notice that I was to appear
at some place of trial and be judged. . . . I knew that according
to law my sentence would be death, or lifelong imprisonment in
Siberia, so I felt that I must witness for my Master now. Nearly
every evening the boys asked me to talk to them. . . .
day the priest came in, and in every way tried to persuade me
to change my views. When he saw that it was useless to argue longer,
he became very angry, and addressed the soldiers around us, saying,
Children, do not listen to this man. Do not speak with him.
He is a leper. But this simply amused the boys, and they
were more eager to have me talk with them. . . .
I was taken to be judged. The charge against me was read, namely,
my refusal to bear arms. . . . My sentence read, Eighteen
years in Siberia. The first two in heavy chains. The next eight
in heavy work and close confinement. The remaining eight in government
employ. After these eighteen years I could return, but not
to any city, and was to report to some police station every week.
. . .
was immediately handcuffed and led to prison, waiting to be sent
to Siberia. . . . [Meanwhile,] I was kept in very close confinement
with the poorest, scantiest fare imaginable. . . .
was in this prison until April 29, 1917, when the government was
changed, and the old despotic rule of the czar fell. . . . Under
these new circumstances I met a dear brother of the same faith,
also imprisoned on the same charge. We spent many happy hours
together in Bible study and prayer. When our cases were settled,
he was freed and sent home, and I was asked to continue my service
in the army, but was given noncombatant work." W. A.
Spicer, Providences of the Great War, pp. 129131.
World War I, many Adventists went through trials and persecutions
also in other ways which were not directly connected with the
military question. And the Lord often showed His powerful hand
to save the faithful ones who put their confidence entirely in
Russian general, for example, had threatened to banish all the
Adventists from a Latvian town and to kill all those who decided
to remain. It happened that on the very day that he had set to
carry out his decision, he was deposed and was ordered to report
to the headquarters. On that day, which was a Sabbath, the brethren
were fasting and praying, and the Lord defeated the plans of that
another place in Russia, the judge, with the help of the local
priest, had vowed that "no Adventist should be allowed to
set his foot in the territory" under his jurisdiction. But
the revolution broke out, and that wicked judge, who had wronged
the people by his arbitrary rule, was seized by the mob and hanged
on a tree.