Children’s Story – The Circling Dove

Many people consider The Great Controversy as having the most powerful influence. Countless stories tell of the book’s impact on people’s lives.

One unusual story about it comes from the Philippine Islands. Regino Balaois had reached the amazing age of 115—at least that is how old he and his friends believed he was. One day Reuben Balosteros, a young colporteur passing through Laguna Province on the island of Luzon, stopped to sell books in Balaois’s little home village of Famyi. Balaois enjoyed sitting in a chair in front of his home and watching the daily life of the village swirl about him. Seeing the ancient man, the Adventist book salesman approached him and soon sold him a copy of The Great Controversy.

After buying the book, Balaois sat down in a shady spot in his backyard and began to read. Having read for a while, he glanced up and noticed something unusual. A white dove had flown into the garden and had begun to circle over the man’s head. Never, he thought, had he seen a bird act quite like that before.

The next day Balaois went out to read again, and again the dove returned, repeating its strange behavior. There must be, he finally decided, some connection between his reading the book and the coming of the bird. He decided to mention the strange event to his friends. “This must be a good book,” he commented, holding up the copy of the book, “because every time I read it, the white dove returns and flies in circles above me. Do you think it is a sign that God has sent the book to teach us?”

Regino Balaois’s age gave him much respect among the villagers, but his tale about the dove naturally caused some doubt among the people. “You’re getting old and seeing things,” someone commented.

“If that is so,” Balaois replied, “then come over to my house and listen to what the book has to say. Watch for yourselves and see if the dove comes when I start reading the book.”

Impressed with the elderly man’s statement, the villagers decided they would come and see what happened. The next day they met in Regino’s garden and silently waited as he began to read. Suddenly someone pointed to the sky. Instantly all heads swiveled in the same direction. To their astonishment they saw a beautiful white dove fluttering and wheeling over the old man’s head. No one could explain the bird’s actions. They could only agree with Balaois’s idea that the power that sent the dove to the garden must approve of their reading the book.

“We must see what the book teaches,” the people of Famyi agreed among themselves. Daily the neighbors came to Regino’s garden and listened to him or another man read from The Great Controversy.

One day as Regino Balaois sat alone reading the book, the dove appeared again. No one had seen it for a while. Suddenly the bird spoke. “Keep the Sabbath,” it commanded.

Instantly he knew what the creature meant—Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath. He had read about it in the book. Still surprised by the dove’s latest strange deed, Regino summoned his neighbors and told them what had happened, that he believed that God had commanded through the bird that they keep the Sabbath described in the book.

God had a reason for using the dove. Most of the people of the Philippines are Roman Catholic. They believe in miracles and are greatly impressed when they think they see one. Knowing the impact the dove’s actions would have on the villagers of Famyi, God sent it to begin to break the hold of the Catholic Church on the people’s minds. It was the best way of breaking through their superstitions. The miracle of the dove created an interest in the teachings of The Great Controversy and emphasized their importance. The bird’s command helped them to believe in the Sabbath and to have the courage to obey.

Balaois and his friends did not know of a single group that followed the beliefs found in Mrs. Ellen White’s book. They decided to form a church of their own and call it the Church of the Pure Religion. The little group agreed it was a good idea, but one person pointed out that they needed to be baptized. “But who will do it?” another asked.

After discussing the problem among themselves for a while, they decided that Balaois would baptize the man who had helped him read to the villagers. The neighbor, in turn, would baptize Balaois. Then both would baptize the others. The little church had nineteen members. The next time Reuben Balosteros, the colporteur, passed through the area, he visited the group and called in an ordained minister. The minister organized Balaois and his neighbors into the first Seventh-day Adventist Church in the region.

Another miracle connected with the sale of a copy of The Great Controversy took place near Cordelia, California. An Adventist selling door to door sold an English copy of the book to a Catholic Italian immigrant farmer named Oberti. Although Oberti had learned to speak some English, he could not read the language. Oddly, knowing that he couldn’t read the book, he still accepted the delivered copy and paid for it. Oberti put his book on a shelf in the kitchen of his little cabin and returned to work in his cherry orchard.

After dinner that evening he remembered the book. Deciding to look at the pictures, he took it down from the kitchen shelf and opened it. Turning to the frontispiece, he studied it, then flipped past the title page, the publishers’ preface, the introduction, the table of contents, and the list of illustrations, and finally came to the beginning of chapter one. Forgetting that the book was in English, he read the first page and continued on to the next. Suddenly he realized that he understood the English words. Interested in what Mrs. White had to say, he continued reading until he finished the chapter. He went to the second chapter and before many days finished the entire book. God had given him the ability to read the English language.

The ideas Oberti found in the book remained in his mind, and he accepted the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and joined it. He served as an officer in his local church for many years. In addition, from the day he first started reading The Great Controversy until the end of his life he could read English.

Mrs. White knew the impact her book could have on people. It could reach people who could not be contacted in any other way. The Holy Spirit influenced those who read, convincing them of the truth of what they found. She wrote, “By reading it, some souls will be aroused, and will have courage to unite themselves at once with those who keep the commandments of God.” Colporteur Ministry, 128.

A. Delafield and Gerald Wheeler, Angel Over Her Tent and other stories about Ellen G. White, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland, 2000, 138–141.

Childrens Story – A Beautiful Dream

William Miller is preaching tonight,” said Ellen’s father one day, as he sat down to dinner, “and we must go to hear him. He is preaching a new and strange doctrine. He thinks that Jesus Himself will soon come to this earth. I want to know whether this is from the Bible.”

That night the Harmon family went to the meeting held by William Miller in the town of Portland, Maine. How stirred they were as the minister told them of the nearness of the coming of Jesus. Mr. Miller made the explanation from the prophecies so clear that although Ellen was only twelve years old even she could understand it.

This minister was a careful student of the Bible. He found that the prophecies in the book of Daniel concerning the different kingdoms had all come true. Then he came to a prophecy which said that at the end of a period of 2300 years the sanctuary would be cleansed.

“Can we tell when these years will begin and end?” he wondered. He found the answer in the book of Daniel, the ninth chapter. Here he found that this period began when the decree was given to restore and build Jerusalem. From history he learned that this decree was given 457 years before Christ.

The other prophecies in this same chapter concerning the work of Christ and His death, had been fulfilled in the exact year it was prophesied that they should be; so Mr. Miller was confident that the next event, the cleansing of the sanctuary, would take place at the end of the 2300 years. The end of the prophecy would come in 1843.

What was meant by the cleansing of the sanctuary? Bible students know now that the sanctuary here spoken of is in heaven, where Jesus pleads with His Father for the forgiveness of our sins. But at that time nearly all Christians believed that the earth was the sanctuary. Mr. Miller felt sure that the cleansing of the sanctuary meant the cleansing of the earth from sin at the coming of Jesus.

What a thrilling thought this was. Jesus was coming in 1843! He felt that he must tell others about it; so he left his home and went out to preach wherever he could find those who would listen to him. Now he had come to Portland, and was telling the people there why he believed that Jesus would come in only three more years.

Everyone in the city was talking of this great event. Many scoffed and laughed, but scores of others believed. Ellen [Harmon] went to these meetings, and when Mr. Miller asked those who wanted especially to seek God in prayer to come to the front of the hall, she went forward, with many others, and knelt, praying that her sins might be forgiven. Of course Jesus answered her prayer, but she did not feel that He had. She had not yet learned that we must trust Jesus to pardon our sins when we confess them and ask Him to forgive them. For the next few weeks she was troubled, for she was not sure that she was ready to meet Jesus.

The following summer the Harmon family went to the Methodist camp meeting. Ellen was glad to have this opportunity to hear more about Jesus. She went fully resolved to seek the Lord in earnest there, and to be prepared for His coming.

Soon after they reached the campground, she heard a sermon preached from the words of Queen Esther, “So will I go in unto the king, … and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). The sermon was especially for those who were longing to be saved yet were afraid they could not make themselves worthy of the love of God. The words of the minister helped Ellen to understand what she must do to be ready to meet her Saviour when He should come. She understood that she could not through her own strength make herself worthy, but that Jesus alone could cleanse from sin.

Soon after this, as she prayed, her heart was filled with happiness and she now felt that Jesus had forgiven her sins. She realized that Jesus was very near to His children, that they could go to Him with their troubles, and that He would take away all sadness, the same as He had blessed and healed those who came to Him when He was here on this earth.

One of the women spoke to her, “Dear child, have you found Jesus?” As Ellen turned to say Yes, the woman exclaimed, “Indeed you have. His peace is with you. I see it in your face.”

About this time Ellen passed by a tent on the campground and saw a little girl who seemed much distressed about something. She held in her arms a little parasol. Her face was pale as she tightly clung to her treasure. Several times she started to lay it down and then she held it closer to her again. After a few minutes the child cried, “Dear Jesus, I want to love You and go to heaven! Take away my sins! I give myself to You, parasol and all.” Then crying, she threw herself into her mother’s arms. “Mother,” she said, “I am so happy, for Jesus loves me, and I love Him better than my parasol or anything else.”

Her face was shining with happiness as she smiled at those about her. Then her mother, with tears in her eyes, explained that her little daughter had received the parasol as a present not long before. She loved it very much. She carried it with her everywhere, even taking it with her when she went to sleep at night. But during the meetings the little girl had heard that we must give all to Jesus. The little parasol was the dearest thing on earth to her, and so she had felt that she must give it to Jesus. What a struggle she had gone through before she was willing to give up her treasure! But now that it was over, and she had given all she had, her face was bright with her new joy.

Then it was explained to the little girl that since she had given up everything to her Savior, and allowed nothing to stand between her and her love for Him it was right for her to keep the parasol and use it.

As Ellen walked on across the campground she said to herself, “How hard it is to give up the parasol! Yet Jesus gave up heaven for our sake, and became poor, that we, through His poverty and suffering, might have heavenly riches.”

Shortly after her return from camp meeting, she asked to be baptized and taken into the Methodist Church, to which her parents belonged. The leaders in the church urged her to be sprinkled, but she felt that she wanted to be baptized as her Saviour had been, by immersion.

Although the day appointed for the baptism was a windy one, and the waves of the ocean dashed upon the shore, Ellen’s heart was happy—happy that she could take up her cross for her Master. Her peace was like a river. She was beginning a new life that was to be a life of service for her Saviour.

Although Ellen became a member of the church and attended the meetings regularly, including the prayer meeting, she had never prayed aloud in public. Now it became impressed upon her mind that she should seek God in prayer in the small prayer meetings. She was very timid, and felt that she could not do this, but whenever she knelt alone to pray, this duty came to her mind.

Then one night she had a dream. She dreamed that she was sitting, sadly thinking, with her face in her hands. “If Jesus were upon earth,” she thought to herself, “I would go to Him, throw myself at His feet, and tell Him all my sufferings. He would not turn from me; He would have mercy upon me, and I would love and serve Him always.”

While she was thinking, the door opened, and a beautiful person came in. He looked at her kindly and said, “Do you wish to see Jesus? He is here, and you can see Him if you desire. Take everything you possess, and follow me.”

She gathered up her little possessions and joyfully followed her guide. He led her to a steep, narrow stairway. As they began to climb the stairs, he warned her to keep looking upward, lest she become dizzy and fall. She saw others climbing the stairs also, who looked down and fell before they reached the top.

Finally Ellen and her guide reached the last step. They stood before a closed door. Her guide told her to leave everything she was carrying. She cheerfully laid her possessions down.

Then he opened the door and told her to go in. In a moment she stood before Jesus. As He looked upon her, she knew that He was acquainted with her and with all her thoughts.

She tried to shield herself from His gaze, but He drew near and laid His hand upon her head. “Fear not,” He said, as He smiled upon her. The sound of His sweet voice filled her heart with happiness. She was overcome with joy and sank to the floor at His feet.

Ellen felt, in her dream, that she had reached the peace of heaven. When at last she rose, the loving eyes of Jesus were upon her, and His beautiful smile filled her soul with gladness. She looked at Him with holy reverence and love.

Her guide opened that door and they went out. He told her to take up again the possessions she had laid down. Then he handed her a green cord tightly coiled. He told her to place it next to her heart, and when she wanted to see Jesus take the cord out and stretch it as far as she could. “Do not let it remain coiled very long at a time,” the angel said, “or it will become knotted and hard to straighten.”

Ellen placed the cord next to her heart and joyfully began her journey back down the narrow stairs. As she went she praised the Lord and told everyone she met where he could find Jesus.

When Ellen awakened she was happy. This dream gave her hope that she could go to God in prayer whenever she desired. To her, the green cord represented faith in God, and she understood how simple it was to trust in Him. She was sure now, that Jesus loved her.

“His Messenger” by Ruth Wheeler, 13–19.