Angel Over Her Tent

     To house the people expected to come, those arranging the camp meeting made thirty-five family-sized tents. Few thought more than that would be needed. But as reservations came in, the preparations committee had to buy and rent additional tents.

     When Mrs. White arrived at Brighton Beach, the campsite contained more than one hundred tents, housing 511 people. The careful, orderly arrangement of the tents and grounds impressed the many non-Adventist visitors who flocked to the meetings. The large audiences included doctors, ministers of other churches, and businessmen. They crowded into the main tent to hear Mrs. White speak on such topics as the Ten Commandments, Sabbathkeeping, and the events heralding the second coming of Christ

The wonders of the Adventist camp meeting quickly became a local topic of conversation. Mrs. White said herself that she had not seen such deep religious dedication and enthusiasm since the Millerite meetings of 1843 and 1844.

     But not everybody appreciated the camp meeting so highly. To a group of juvenile delinquents—larrikins, the Australians called them—living in a nearby town, it represented a chance to have some fun. They began to do little acts of vandalism and mischief. They attacked the tents, hurling stones at them and pulling one down. The camp meeting staff had appointed several students from the Australian Bible School to act as guards. They helped control the larrikins. Unable to do much damage, the delinquents decided on a bolder scheme. Their leader outlined a plan to pull Mrs. White's tent down on her the next night. He considered her the most important person among the Adventists.

But some of the gang bragged about their plan to the camp's student guards. Learning what the larrikins wanted to do, Fairly Masters, one of the Bible School's students, went to the faculty and warned them about the teen-age gang's schemes. The teachers hurried to the Melbourne police headquarters and asked for protection for the campsite. The city sent a tall, heavy-built Irish Roman Catholic policeman out to the little tent city to guard Mrs. White's tent.

     Actually Mrs. White did not worry when she heard about the teen-agers’ plan. She had often faced greater dangers in her long life. Time after time angels had protected her from disease, accident, and the violence and hatred of men. Since God had taken care of her for so long, she did not see any reason for fear now. Most of the time Mrs. White did not let people give her police protection. Now she accepted it only to please those with her. After the meeting that night, she walked to her tent, prepared for bed, prayed, and fell asleep in perfect peace. She would have slept just as peacefully without the policeman. Outside, the policeman patrolled the area around the tent, watching for the troublemakers. But the boys never showed up. Some of the youthful camp guards warned the gang members not to try anything, because the city had sent a law officer.

     Yawning occasionally, the policeman kept at his post. Not long after midnight, when only subdued snores and the rustle of the night wind among the leaves disturbed

the campground, he paused in his circuit of Mrs. White's tent and glanced toward it. He thought he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. But the tent stood peacefully in the darkness. He started to turn his attention to another part of the campground, but before he could, he saw a beam of light suddenly hover over Mrs. White's tent. Gradually

the light assumed a shape and became more solid looking. Gripping his night stick, he watched the shape of an angel form in the light and stand guard above the tent. Instinctively he dropped to his knees and crossed himself. Awestruck, he stared at the angel for several minutes, then slowly rose to his feet and began to walk away. He had decided that Mrs. White no longer needed his protection. God guarded her.

     Back at the Melbourne police station, he explained to his sergeant and the other officers on duty there why he had left his post. He explained that he felt Mrs. White had greater safety than he could give her. Strangely, his superiors did not question his story, but believed it and did not send him back to the campground that night.

     The Irish policeman, however, went to the campsite on his own the next day. He wanted to see the woman the angel guarded, to hear what she had to say. He attended the main services that day and every following day. What he saw and learned about Mrs. White did not disappoint him. The more he heard, the more interested he became; and he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Later he resigned from the police force and moved to the country, becoming an active lay member responsible for many others joining the church.

      God had overruled Mrs. White's usual reluctance to accept police protection to provide a chance for the policeman to come to the campgrounds. And He had allowed the man to see the angel because He knew it would appeal to his Roman Catholic background, which stressed miracles. Seeing the angel was the key to the man's mind, the thing that created his interest in Adventism. Afterward, God used Mrs. White's sermons in instructing and bringing the policeman into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But he was not the only one converted through her speaking at the camp meeting.