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THE LIFE OF M. L. ANDREASEN - by Virginia Steinweg




FOR A PERIOD of eight years M. L. Andreasen occupied two distinct posts at world headquarters. In 1941 he was invited to be a field secretary for the General Conference. In the Seminary section of the church's 1945 Yearbook he is listed as a visiting instructor in Bible and systematic theology, of which he had previously been professor. Wearing two hats was nothing new for him. Back in Council Bluffs days he worked, not for one tailor, but two. Thereafter he was always doing at least two things at the same time. For that matter, a number of the early Seminary teachers had other responsibilities, and were merely called in to teach a class for nine weeks during a given year.

For years, writing had been M. L.'s second occupation. In Takoma Park, when he couldn't sleep at night, he would go down to the basement and type at his big desk. The girls who lived in the basement apartment used to hear his typewriter at all hours. It was there that he prepared Sabbath school lessons for three quarters during the year 1948. To accompany these lessons he wrote his most scholarly volume, The Book of Hebrews, a verse-by-verse commentary replete with spiritual lessons.

Again, M. L. tells his own story: After I left the Seminary, I spent some years in traveling, visiting mission fields. What I learned could fill a whole book. I found a few missionaries who were living off the fat of the land and implored me to be sure not to


tell too much. But the overwhelming majority were true and faithful servants of God, who in some cases suffered much real privation and never murmured, but faithfully did their part. I saw native workers who deserved a better lot, and whom I felt did not have a "square deal." But there was little complaint. On the whole I was proud of our foreign work and our native workers. God has wonderfully blessed the efforts we have put forth.

I was up in Norway immediately after the war when the brethren got together one Friday evening for worship. It was the first meeting that had been held there for years without police and military intervention. And so we began to sing "Beautiful Valley of Eden." Some may think the melody of that song does not measure up to the standard of the grand old hymns. I'm sure it does not. But it had special memories for me because we used to sing it on Friday evenings when I first learned the truth back in Iowa. Now, in Norway, we were singing it.

We never quite finished that song, for this was such a solemn occasion—the first meeting after the war when our Norwegian believers could be together in peace and safety. And so some quietly began to weep, weep for joy, then others joined in the weeping, and before we were done with the song, we were all weeping together. I was supposed to speak that night, but I didn't. I couldn't. We sat there and wept together for joy. And then we closed the meeting.

M. L. loved being a field secretary of the General Conference, and although he was approaching 70, he wanted to be re-elected for another term so that he could continue his work. I don't think there was any worker out in the field who didn't feel that his meetings were beneficial. He had gone to the Philippines, Germany, Norway, trying to straighten out doctrines. Elder Branson utilized his special abilities by sending him overseas.


His own letters written during this period tell much:

"Manila, P.I., Dec. 17, 1947.


"Thanks so much for your kind letter. Yes, I wish I could go with you to Europe. I am likely coming back by way of Europe. For when I leave from Singapore I will be exactly halfway around the earth—there is not a hundred miles' difference, and the fare is the same. I plan on going by boat if I can get one.

"I was in an accident the other day. We ran over a man and cracked his leg. He got up on the other leg and pulled out a .45 revolver to shoot the conductor. The bus was vacant in a moment. I didn't have sense enough to run. The conductor crawled on the floor under the benches, and as the gunman could not move, the conductor escaped.

"Our sanitarium here, a large concrete building, was almost completely demolished by the Japanese. When they left, they placed a time bomb in the elevator shaft, and when it went oft, the building collapsed. They are trying to restore it, but it will take several hundred thousand dollars. We have three doctors here.

"I am conducting school here for the workers— four sessions a day. A. V. Olson arrived today. Tomorrow Elders Bradley, Cossentine, and Armstrong.

"And so again, love and greetings and a Happy Christmas and New Year,

M.L.A. "And remember me especially to grandpa. And, oh, the 'lambs,' of course."

"Shanghai, Jan. 8, 1948.


"It seems an eternity since I was there. And you have a new president. I hope he will make good.


"Here in China it is much cleaner than in Manila. Also, the people are better clothed and fed. Of course I have seen only a small part, but others say that while there is poverty and starvation in the outlying provinces, in China itself it is not so bad.

"They have difficulty here among the Chinese workers, who demand equality in pay with Americans. Their standards are different from ours, so we have paid as the Chinese pay their workers—only more liberally. But they are not satisfied. One demanded a refrigerator, and got it. He used it for making ice cubes to sell, and never put food in it. Our men do not know what to do, but I suppose some adjustment will be made.

"Elder Detamore is to hold an effort in Shanghai in English. There are certainly people enough, and there are several English newspapers. Some prophesy failure, but there are an endless number of young Chinese who know some English, so we should not lack an audience."

"Washington, D.C., May 10, 1948.


"So, much thanks for your kind ,and good letter. We certainly enjoyed having you visit us for a little while.

"Our schools are all going the wrong way, financially. Going into debt, head over heels. Berrien has suffered the least. For that [President] Johnson should get the credit. We have learned a new thing:

As the students cost more than they pay in, the more students, the harder it is to run a school financially. We used to think that many students would help us. But each one costs more than we take in. So one thousand students are worse than five hundred. That is a new one. And so all our schools are running in debt.

"I was invited to give the address at Ooltewah,


La Sierra, and PUC. I declined all. The Faith of Jesus [second edition] will come out in two volumes. The first, 650 pages, is all ready for the printer. I have been asked to prepare a book on the Sabbath for our evangelists for wide use. I will have another book ready soon on our doctrines, and one on prayer. Hebrews has now sold 40,000, which is a record, they say, for that kind of book.

"Despite my protest, they have put my name in the new Seminary catalog. That is too bad. Students in India and China read and come to get certain courses. I protested last year, and they promised it would not happen again. It was a mistake!"

"Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 14, 1948.


"I am writing on this menu because I thought perhaps Mary might be interested in seeing the kind of food they serve. The trouble is, they waste it, for they serve such large portions, and everything is perfect.

"We had a good passage, and certainly a tremendous welcome. This was the first boat to arrive for three months, and the whole town was down to see it—flags, bunting, bands, music, songs, leis, hula dance, et cetera. I got seven leis, and some of them were simply gorgeous. And Vesta enjoyed it all. This beats California entirely. It is like the Garden of Eden. If Mother and you had been here, all would have been perfect.

"They have a complete program laid out until January 16. Two or three meetings a day, with the laymen and workers. Then the school and the outlying islands. I will be in Honolulu two weeks, then visit the islands. Vesta will probably stay here. We live in a small hotel one block from the famous Waikiki Beach. There is swimming every day and the water is warm."


"Hilo, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 1948.


"I am now in Hilo, a town in the island called Hawaii, 225 miles from Honolulu. Everything is much greener here than in Oahu, the island where Honolulu is located. In Honolulu they have from 30 to 80 inches of rain a year; here they have 150. This year it has been wet, so they have about 170 inches. That is a lot of rain. I suppose Minnesota has about 20. This means that here it rains every day, and night surely. But it is wonderfully green and beautiful. Two years ago there was a tidal wave that took away much of the town, bridges, and railway station. There are craters on the island, and they erupt every so often. Where I am sitting I can see the snow on one of the high mountains. It is about 14,000 feet and the snow is there most of the year. The mountain is accessible, and people go up there to ski.

"When I came here yesterday I received, among other things, a lei made of orchids. Beautiful! I had to wear it while preaching. That is one trouble, you have to wear what you get.

"Ves stayed in Honolulu, but I think she will come over Friday. It is one and one-half hours by plane."

In 1948, while still involved in his world travels, M. L. and Annie purchased a lot in Loma Linda and in May decided to change their official residence to California. "We are now in the last days of getting ready to move. Mother has decided not to come back East, but stay in California. So she is taking everything along."

The second Friday of November M. L. and Annie were en route to special meetings in Pacific Union College. They had stopped overnight in Mountain View at the home of students from old "Hutch," where the host had worked in the accounting office


with Annie. As the Andreasens were about to leave, M. L. said, "Come on, ride with us to San Francisco, just so we can be together a little longer." The friends dropped everything and "went a piece," saying goodbye in the center of the big city. Arriving back home, the friends found Annie had left a slipper, which they planned to return to her at the first opportunity.

But the opportunity did not come. M. L. tells the story in a letter:

"St. Helena, Nov. 14, 1948.

"I am sitting by wife's bedside in the sanitarium. She went to church yesterday morning as usual, then we had dinner at Elder Campbell's, and all was cheerful and well. Upon arising from the table wife had a stroke—but we did not know it, as she kept walking around. But when she failed to respond to questions, we discovered that she could not utter a sound. A doctor came immediately, and we took her to the sanitarium. Three doctors in consultation decided it was a thrombosis or a hemorrhage of the brain, probably the latter. Gradually the whole right side of the body became somewhat affected, though she can still move all her limbs. She is being kept under drugs so can hardly be said to be conscious. She obeys doctor's orders, but does not respond to a pressure of the hand. The outlook is not good. We are praying and hoping for recovery.

"Vesta will arrive in San Francisco this morning at six-thirty (it is now five o'clock)."

Eunice was there when Vesta arrived. That was Annie Andreasen's last morning. M. L. did not wait until Annie was gone to present his bouquets. One of his former students, whom M. L. and Annie used to visit, recalls: "One time we were in San Francisco together, walking down the street. Elder Andreasen said, 'Just a minute.'


We were passing a florist's. He went in and wired his wife a beautiful corsage. It wasn't her birthday or anything special. It was just his constancy and devotion to her. I think they wrote each other every day when he had to be away."

Almost ten years before his wife's death, Andreasen had dedicated his 571-page book. The Faith of Jesus, to "my wife and faithful helper of many years." In this book Annie had had the pleasure of reading the following tribute:

Some do not like to think of marriage or the home as educational institutions; yet in God's plan they are largely so. There the husband may learn . . . the wonderful lesson of having to give in, of learning to back down gracefully (or otherwise), of finding out that superior bodily strength is no sure criterion of mental superiority. There he may learn to cooperate, to work in double harness, to modify his opinions in the light of experience. There he may learn the workings of a mind of the opposite sex—often puzzling and perplexing to him—and find to his astonishment that it is more often correct than his own logical one, and that if he is wise, he will trust more to the counsel received at home than to the sage opinion of his neighbors. In retrospect he will be thankful for the times when he was saved from making a fool of himself by heeding the advice of his wife, and he will sadly remember how many more times he could have been saved had he been willing to listen to her counsel. He will on his knees thank the God of heaven for teaching him valuable lessons, and will know that if he is ever saved in the kingdom of heaven, much of the credit will go to the one whom he has promised to love, honor, and cherish. . . .

Few are the men successful in public life who do not have a faithful wife to thank for their success. Many are the wives who not only have children to rear but who in addition have a husband who needs


bringing up. Many a wife early learns that the husband's idea of the division of work is that he is to take most of the glory and she is to do most of the work. But even this lesson is worth learning. There are altogether too many people who are willing to work only if they can be duly recognized and receive public credit. Few are those who are willing to toil in obscurity, receiving only the credit that the angel records. But to be willing to do this is real religion. In the books of heaven, could some husbands read the writing, they would be astonished to see how Cod keeps books. It would make them a little more humble, and also more appreciative of the unselfish work of their companions.*

In public M. L. liked to refer to the experience of Ezekiel when the Lord told him he must go right on giving his message, despite the sudden death of the delight of his eyes. Therefore he went on meeting his appointments. A typical Week of Prayer is recalled by a student at what is now Andrews University:

"Don and I both went through a Week of Prayer under Andreasen, you know. My, but he really went over big, too. I can still see Bill Brown (you know his father, big news reporter)—almost he was persuaded. Wish I had tapes of some of those sermons—'Is your life a sewing machine running without thread?' Heaven, and, of course, his rare one on health reform, pleading for the middle of the road. . . . The thing was really a masterpiece, as was, of course, the one we'll never forget, 'Stay By the Ship,' reviewing the various crises he had seen the church survive, and pleading over and over to stay by the church no matter what—it is going through to triumph."

Very soon afterward M. L. wrote this letter:

*M. L. Andreasen, The Faith of Jesus (Washington, D.C.; Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1943), pp. 315, 316.


"Washington, D.C., April 22, 1949.


"My Friday's work is almost done. Mowed and raked lawn (100 square feet), swept the sidewalk (4 x 60), scrubbed the kitchen linoleum (it needed it), cleared the dishes (3) off the table (also knife, fork, and spoon), and washed and dried them and put them back where they belonged. Vacuum-cleaned all the rugs in all the rooms; made the bed; declined two calls to speak Sabbath and accepted one; wrote two pages of manuscript; got four letters, from Ethiopia, Singapore, New England, and California, all signed "With love" except one; have a kettle of beans on the fire after soaking all night—and didn't forget to put the onion in. No beans, no Sabbath. Sprinkled my clothes (one shirt); pressed my Sabbath suit; shined my shoes (two pairs); bought the necessary groceries for Sabbath; attended a General Conference committee meeting; had to take an extra trip to town to get some dry-cleaner clothes for Vesta that I had forgotten—and now I am sitting down to write a half-dozen letters.

"I am coming to California in time for the Lynwood meeting—last part. The Lodi and the Lynwood are at the same time, and I go to Lodi first. I start West in two weeks, by car, if the old buggy will take me there. I will visit in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska for a few weeks and leave my car in College View while I go back to South Lancaster for a meeting June 5-10. I have tried to get out of this meeting, but cannot. And so I plane or train back to Lincoln, and arrive in Lodi June 15. Some itinerary! But it is the best I can do. I will stay in California till September, but will be kept busy most of the time. In between I make a trip to Idaho."

This is the man who was soon to be put on retirement.

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