It is the 1938/39 school year at Southern Jr. College in Collegedale, Tennessee. Hart Halvorsen, a lifelong Adventist, is Superintendent of the Department of Agriculture. His son Forest and daughter Betty were both enrolled in the school when word came that Elder LeRoy Froom was being sent to speak to the students in a series of meetings.
The evening of the first meeting Betty asked her dad if he was going. Dad said, “No, the guy’s got some strange ideas.” “You’re required to go, so you have to.”
Then he gave her precious words of wisdom, “Remember what you’ve learned about what the Bible teaches, and if you have any questions please ask me, or look in the Bible.”
Betty and her brother went to the meetings and she decided to take a school book with her to study so she would not have to concentrate on Froom’s message. As she waited in the hallway for a friend she overheard the following conversation between two teachers.
“I’m really worried about these meetings, what they’re going to do to get the students confused,”
“Don’t worry,” was the reply from the other teacher. “Longacre will be here in a week and he will straighten them out.”
Charles (C.S.) Longacre, 1871-1958, was an evangelist, author, editor, minister and administrator who is best remembered for his work in Religious Liberty. His manuscript, The Deity of Christ, gives us a clue as to what he might have said to help straighten out those who had been influenced by Elder Froom.
The Deity of Christ by C.S. Longacre is available for download here on Maranatha Media.
After the meetings at the college Betty went to her Dad and told him that she didn’t understand what Froom believed about the Holy Spirit. In fact she expressed that she was quite sure that what he said wasn’t right. Dad reminded her of what they had read in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, and that was enough to prevent her from veering from the truth.
Today Betty still holds those truths in her heart, and I had the privilege of meeting her at the Talking Rock camp meeting where she shared her interesting and enlightening experience with me.
This account is not the end of Betty’s connection with Elder Froom. When the book Questions On Doctrine was published in 1957 she remembers there being an uproar from people who had read it. Because Froom was attached to the book she wanted to see what all the fuss was about and went to her local Book and Bible House during a camp meeting to purchase a copy. They told her the book had sold out and that they weren’t sure if they were getting any more in stock. “It is too controversial”, they said.
Not long after this Betty and her Dad were helping his wife’s brother-in-law, Elder Walter Straw, pack books from his enormous library for a move. They were supposed to be whittling down the number of tomes and seemed to be keeping more than they were giving away. As uncle Walter pulls a book from the shelf his eyes scan the cover and tears begin to stream down his weathered face.
“We’ve been sold down the river”, he sobs.
The book he held in his hand? “The Coming of the Comforter.” Author: LeRoy Edwin Froom.
Sad but true are those words spoken by a man who also knew the truth of the Father and His Son from the Bible and writings of Ellen White. This is the same truth that Hart Halvorsen learned from his father before him and instilled in his daughter who he encouraged to read and understand herself from the Scriptures and Spirit of Prophecy. Many of us have had those moments where we just weep over discovering how we’ve all been sold. We also weep because of the part we played without realizing it and are brought to repentance as we ask for forgiveness.
This is not the end of the story. Soon our tears of sadness will be wiped away. Until then there is more for us to accomplish, "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts."
It is a joy to have Betty as a living testimony of those who held true to the faith once delivered to the saints. In a follow-up phone conversation she wishes she had been more vocal in what she believed and wanted to express, “If everyone had known that their voices were important they could have stood for the truth.”
Dearest Betty, you have been and are standing for the truth, otherwise this testimony would never have been written. A prayer of thanksgiving is in order.
Thank You Father in heaven for giving us the opportunity to turn our heart to You. Day by day and with each passing moment we are finding Your strength and courage to stand. Thank you for those who have been living voices and Your witnesses through the ages. Thank You for sister Betty who is standing with her brothers and sisters leading in her own way with Your grace by the Spirit of Jesus abiding in her heart as a divine influence.
We pray to be among the church that is the bride without spot or wrinkle and know we can only defeat the accuser of the brethren by the blood of Your dear Son, the lamb, and the word of our testimonies. This testimony is offered to Your honour and glory.
Below is a snapshot from our heavenly Father’s photo album. The Halvorsen family had come together in 1948 for a reunion at Lemon Creek, Berrien Springs, Michigan. Dad Halvorsen stands in the center with his wife Beatrice, children and grandchildren on either side. Forest and wife Anna Mae with son Forest Jr. and daughter Rose are on the left. Betty with husband Orla and son Van are on the right. Some of those in the picture have fought a good fight, finished their course, kept the faith and now sleep in Jesus. "Henceforth there is laid up for" them "a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give" them "at that day: and not to" them "only, but unto all...that love His appearing." Jesus our Saviour greatly desires to bring all the children home to His Father for the grand heavenly reunion. What a glorious day that will be.