Few of the letters we receive at the ADC have such a remarkable background as this one, from Irwin.
Our daily correspondence covers all subject matters, from business-as-usual messages asking for our courses to personal prayer requests, some of them very intimate, like “please pray for my daughter, she is battling with a cancer stage x…”; not to forget requests for a particular resource, various questions that we try to answer, either publicly or privately, letters with donations etc.
Now, this one, that we are talking about is absolutely special for three amazing reasons.
First of all, because it reached us although not addressed to us. What do we mean by that?
Let’s start with the address: no street, no postcode… Stanborough Park has been in Watford (UK) for many, many years. In fact, the Seventh-day Adventist Church purchased the property sometime back in 1907. So, for any resident or postman in Watford, Stanborough Park is by default associated with the Adventists: a well-known church (congregation) and community centre, two schools (primary and secondary), a publishing house (called by the same name, Stanborough Press), the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the British Isles (UK and Ireland).
All good, but… International Tract Society? Well, that one was also there some long time ago…
If you would like to know more, the history of Stanborough Press (the publishing house mentioned above) started in 1894 under the name – you guessed it – International Tract Society. After the First World War it became Stanborough Press (and later moved to Grantham, in 1966). So, any letter addressed to the “International Tract Society” means, well, an association with a product, a service, an institution related to publishing, more than a century ago.
But wait, we didn’t say much about the content of the letter, right? (And why did we open it?…)
When the postman delivered to Stanborough Park, someone thought the best office/institution to deal with this letter was the Adventist Discovery Centre. (Few people of our generation will remember International Tract Society.)
So, the letter read like this:
In your advert in the book “Our Paradise Home” the “Great Controversy between Christ and Satan” book was shown, by Mrs. E. G. White. It looks interesting. I would like to know the price of the book. If you don’t have it I will understand, because this literature is from Christmas 1921. (Yes, I am hoping.) Maybe a reply would be nice. Thank youYours faithfully, Irwin G.
The second amazing feature of this letter is that it is connected to a very old book entitled “Our Paradise Home”. While the title didn’t immediately ring any bells for the current ADC team, one senior administrator remembered it (the book was even translated into Welsh). Browsing on eBay one could easily find it:
The first edition is dated… 1903, published in USA by Review and Herald (see a PDF copy here), while the cover above and the title page are taken from its 1905 British edition. The title was available for decades.
Dear reader, just stop for a minute and reflect along with us:
A gentleman recently found this old book, maybe on an old shelf, maybe in a library or antique shop. Probably on the last page of the old volume our friend noticed an advert to another book, “The Great Controversy”. The reader is interested, but there is a huge obstacle, the ad is from… 1921. That is 100+ years ago, 101 to be exact. We received the letter on the 31st of October 2022. The original printer/publishing institution has changed its name, moved to a different location… The cherry on top? Somewhere on the letter there is this note: “I have no telephone. Sorry.” [No, internet, right?]
What’s the catch? Well, and this is the third amazing feature, the book Great Controversy is still in print. In fact, we offer the latest edition to our ADC students who are interested in our prophecy courses.
We see a miracle here. One couldn’t better match the 1921 ad, with a long-gone International Tract Society (yes, turned into a thriving publishing house today, as Stanborough Press), and yet arriving (by post, no Internet) at the right office to meet the request with the expected product.
Just remember the verse in the Bible, where God says:
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”Isaiah 55:11
What was our response? A letter went out from the ADC office:
“We are happy to enclose a copy of The Great Controversy, free of charge and trust that you will find it as interesting as you anticipate.”
Moreover, we let him know that we have additional resources available to him (and everyone!), sending him our flyer giving details of our courses and also the first lesson of our course Discover. The letter ended with the assurance that he could let us know if there is any way we may be of further assistance.
This is the ADC – Adventist Discovery Centre.