I'm right here in Andersonville, Ga., the very place of the largest Confederate prison camp of the Civil war. In this very place, there were, I hear, more than 45,000 prisoners of war. This place was designed for no more than 12-15,000 soldiers. However, the history registers that one-third of them died.
What is the cause for them to die right here? Because they were overcrowded. This capacity was only for 10-12,000, but they brought here more than 45,000 soldiers, and they had insufficient, inadequate water, inadequate food and inadequate sanitary facilities.
Every single soldier had to provide their own shelter. However, this place was not enough. It seems large and big, but as we can see right here, it was not enough.
We are now standing here on sacred grounds. On these grounds, many soldiers died. They died because they had the conviction. They fought because they wanted to bring freedom to others. Others, obviously, they didn't want to provide freedom. As we review the American history, we realize that this fight between the northern and the southern was a conflict that really brought this issue into focus. This matter was the moral concept of slavery.
As we read in history, the Civil War happened between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America between 1861 and 1865. The common explanation is it was over the moral issue of slavery, specifically the economic impact and also the political control on this slavery system.
However, in this war, more than 620,000 soldiers died. Historians recorded that along all the wars in the United States of this country, 1.3 million people have died. So now we realize that about almost about 50 percent of those who have lost their lives in wars in the history of this country happened during the Civil war.
How? Why? These are questions that many times we have. Let's explore a little bit more about it. Ellen G. White in her first version in January of 1861, she saw the cannons and also the war and the carnage that would be happening in the months ahead. This was a kind of description how bad this war is going to be, and she was providing counsel for those who were feeling in favor of the war, that this was going to be a very devastating for many families. Actually, that evening when she was mentioning this at the Parkerville Seventh-day Adventist Church, one of the members was nodding and, with her body language, discrediting what she was saying. One year later, Ellen G. White came back again to that very church and that man approached her saying how she was really a messenger of the Lord, because at that time when he heard her saying what will happen and that some of the son of those who were present at that meeting will be dying on the field. Then he said to her, "My boy also he died, as you describe it, in this way." This man confirmed that the visions that Ellen G. White received were coming from the north, assuring that this nation was in God's hands.
After receiving these four visions (the last two in January 1962 in Battle Creek, Mich., and the second one in November of the same year), Ellen G. White again saw this scene of slavery, that God was going to punish the northern and the southern for participating in this human abuse. Ellen G. White, while providing this theological commentary of the war, was assuring the Seventh-day Adventists at that time that they were going to provide a message of hope for those who were losing their sons in the war and also helping others to really move on in life, especially as they were waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
It was during this time in May of 1863 that the church became organized in Michigan and became the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This was the official birth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the Civil War. Ellen G. White, again, was an instrument from God to provide confidence and to assure not just these believers and the second coming of Jesus Christ, but also to others that this nation will continue moving on as a nation under the hands of God. In this very place, we can find that many of those soldiers, they stayed here. Many of them, they died here; others, after the war was over, they were released. We can see right here in this place monuments from different states, from Rhode Island, from Massachusetts and others. Again, this is something for us not to forget.
Last month, February, we commemorated Black history in this country. This was a reminder, not to celebrate the abuse and the atrocities that happened at the time: It was for us not to forget the pain, the suffering, and the endurance of the Black people who were abused at that time. Our African-American brothers and sisters, as we move through the fields of these southern states, we can see how they suffered. Now, we have to remember.
As we are living in these times now in the 21st century in 2021. Now, we have been facing for the last months, even for for the last years, some situations, political situations that we have been facing as a nation. Some individuals, they have been leaning on one side; others are leaning on the other side.
I want to conclude by saying this: God has intervened. He allows us to make our own decisions and live with the decisions that we made. How can we face the future? Ellen G. White said that "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (Counsels for the Church, p. 359.4).
May the Lord help us to move on as we continue our lives, remembering that this nation is in God's hands.
I want, at the same time, to allow God to guide my life so that my life can be in His hands.
What about you? I invite you to turn your eyes upon Jesus and He can continue guiding your life. May the Lord bless us all.