Artist Elfred Lee - "I met Rabbi Joe Kagan at Weimar Institute in CA. His family had come from Eastern Europe where his aunt had been raped while a priest stood over her with a crucifix saying, "This is what you get for killing Christ." So you can imagine the feeling of many Jews towards Christianity. American Christians are not at all like Europeans.
His family moved to the US while he was young. At age 13 he debuted at Carnegie Hall as a cantor. He had a beautiful, tenor voice. He received a very high education and became a rabbi. I met him in his later years in 1978 after he had been on Ronald Reagan's staff in Sacramento as their research man. If there were any questions about any subject, he was the one that did the research and found the answers.
He had a very negative attitude towards Christianity. He would never touch the New Testament. However, he knew the Jewish Old Testament (Torah) extremely well as a highly educated rabbi would. One day he got hold of a book called "Patriarchs and Prophets" by Ellen G. White. He read it with astonishment and wanted to know who this Ellen White was. That is when I met him. He was asking who is this Ellen G. White, and what university did she attend. We told him she only had a 3rd grade education. "Then, where did she learn Hebrew?" he asked. We told him that she never knew Hebrew, but was the most prolific female writer in history and that this was only one of her books.
He was amazed at her knowledge, saying that the information in this book (Patriarchs and Prophets) is Mishnaic. The Mishnah is part of the Hebrew scholarship. He said the Mishnah had only been translated into English 30 years ago and that only high-level rabbis knew this information. This is the history of my people and it is very, very accurate. He also said that you have to know Hebrew to be able to write like this because her sentence structure is not English, it's Hebrew...The rhythm, the meter, the arrangement of words and expressions are not English. He said it's as if she wrote in Hebrew and it was translated into English.
My family and I developed a strong friendship with Joe, his wife and son. As we studied the Bible and some Ellen White books together one day, he said, "I am convinced that Ellen White was inspired by the same source that inspired the Hebrew prophets. I want to become a Christian. I accept Jesus Christ as my Messiah." Now, he would not have come to Christ through reading the Bible. Even though the Hebrew Bible is full of prophecies pointing to the Messiah, it took Ellen White's writings to prove to him that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all the Hebrew prophecies. And only then did he pick up the New Testament and read about his Jewish Messiah.
Many times I saw him cry. I was in the middle of a painting commission for a large mural called "Christ The Way of Life" for the world headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist church in Washington DC. He became very involved with that painting. The painting had originally been inspired by James and Ellen White who had commissioned an engraver to do a black and white drawing of the subject. He confirmed to me that Ellen White's concept was very accurate on the whole plan of salvation in both the Old and New Testament, but that the engraver had misrepresented her concepts. So he helped me in many details to make the painting historically and theologically accurate; especially regarding the sanctuary section, the Hebrew writing on the cross and the last supper scene. He told me to paint Jesus and his disciples at an oriental style table, sitting on mats on the floor - not Roman couches as the medieval artists painted. Further, he said their heads would be covered and he made sure I painted the wine, the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs and their symbolism exactly as they would have been.
He approved of the whole painting and we had an unveiling ceremony at the Auburn SDA Church in late 1979. He had written a song to go with the painting and sat at the organ as we unveiled the painting. He wept as he sang the words of Jesus on the cross quoting Isaiah, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" He sang and sang and wept and wept, his whole body shaking. There was not a dry eye in the whole church. His voice was so beautiful.
The original painting hangs in the new SDA world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland where they have posters and Bible studies of the painting. I could never have done it without the inspiration of Rabbi Kagan and Ellen White. I wish they were still alive!
We were at his secret baptism in the Bear River above Sacramento on Saturday night Dec. 22, 1979. There were four of us present. He could not even tell his wife and son that he was now a Christian. As he came up out of the cold water praising God and singing to his new Messiah, he said, "I am now a completed Jew. I have now accepted the Old and New Testament and the Messiah that all Jewish prophets told us about!"
I was recently in Europe giving some workshops on art and some of my archeological work in the Middle East. I happened to meet a Jewish family from Israel. Shalom David was originally from Iraq and his wife from Chile.
They were now attending a college in Europe where I met with quite a bit of opposition to the writings of Ellen White. This Jewish family invited me to their home for Shabbat (Friday night supper.) It was a most enjoyable occasion as his wife and beautiful children sang and celebrated the arrival of Sabbath as Jews have done for thousands of years. I told them the story of Rabbi Kagan and he got very excited. He said, "The same thing happened to me! I would have rather burned the Bible then touch it! I wanted nothing to do with Christianity, but I also read the writings of Ellen White and the Spirit of God was on that woman. Her writings are as if she wrote in Hebrew.
You can definitely hear the Hebrew rhythm, meter and expressions in her books. I also believe she was inspired by the same source as the Hebrew prophets. And she has helped me fall in love with Jesus Christ, my Messiah."
I just met yesterday with a rabbi living here in California - Rabbi Ben. It was a follow up to a Sabbath meal I was invited to this last Sabbath with him and a group of Adventists. He went through the whole ceremony at the meal just like Rabbi Kagan and as my new friend (Shalom David) in Europe had. So yesterday we were talking over Hebrew ceremonies and how they are still effective in healing disease.
Rabbi Ben told me that he has also had the same experience. He hated the Bible but that Ellen White brought him to Christ and helped him read the New Testament and fall in love with the Messiah. He also told me that he had gone to visit one of the most influential rabbis in America who is in his 90s who must remain unnamed. While in this rabbi's library talking, he was scanning the many, many books on his walls and there he saw the book "Patriarchs and Prophets" by Ellen White. Rabbi Ben asked him about it and where he had gotten it, "Why do you have this book by a Christian author?" The rabbi said, "This as a very authoritative source on our history."
Who was this Ellen G. White?
Artist depiction of Ellen G. White experiencing a vision
Wikipedia – “Ellen Gould White (born Harmon) (November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) was a prolific Christian author and one of the American Christian pioneers whose ministry was instrumental in founding the Sabbatarian Adventist movement that led to the rise of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Ellen, with her twin sister Elizabeth, was born November 26, 1827, to Robert and Eunice Harmon. Robert was a farmer who made hats also, and the whole family helped make hats. With eight children in the family, home was a busy place. The family lived on a small farm near the village of Gorham, Maine. However, a few years after the birth of the twins, Robert Harmon gave up farming, and, with his family, moved into the city of Portland, about twelve miles east.
At the age of nine, Ellen was struck with a rock thrown by a fellow student. The injury severely disfigured her nose, and left her in a coma for three weeks. When Ellen Harmon had her first "conversion experience," she would later write:
Ellen White - “This misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never had known Jesus, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in him. (Review and Herald, Nov. 25, 1884, par.2)
Shortly after her injury, Ellen, with her parents, attended a Methodist camp meeting at Buxton, Maine, and there, at the age of 12, she was converted. Two years later, on June 26, 1842, at her request she was baptized by immersion.
The Millerite Movement in the Second Great Awakening
In 1840, at age 12, her family became involved with the Millerite movement. As she attended William Miller's lectures, Ellen felt guilty for her sins, and she was filled with terror about being eternally lost. She describes herself as spending nights in tears and prayer, and being in this condition for several months. She was baptized by John Hobart in Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, and eagerly awaited for Jesus to come again. In her later years, she referred to this as the happiest time of her life. Her family's involvement with Millerism caused its disfellowship by the local Methodist church.
Marriage and family
Sometime in 1845 Ellen came into contact with her future husband James Springer White, a Millerite who became convinced that her visions were genuine. A year later James proposed and they were married by a justice of the peace in Portland, Maine, on August 30, 1846. James later wrote:
James White – “We were married August 30, 1846, and from that hour to the present she has been my crown of rejoicing....It has been in the good providence of God that both of us had enjoyed a deep experience in the Advent movement....This experience was now needed as we should join our forces and, united, labor extensively from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific....
James and Ellen had four children: Henry Nichols, James Edson (known as Edson), William Clarence (known as Willie or W. C.), and John Herbert. Only Edson and William lived to adulthood. John Herbert died of erysipelas at the age of three months, and Henry died of pneumonia at the age of 16 in 1863.
Supporters of Ellen G. White regard her as a contemporary prophet, even though she never claimed this title for herself. Supporters for her believe that she had the spiritual gift of prophecy as outlined in Revelation 19:10. Her restorationist writings endeavor to showcase the hand of God in Christian history. This cosmic conflict, referred to as the "Great Controversy theme", is foundational to the development of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Her involvement with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
White being a controversial figure even within her own lifetime as stated by some writers is a false statement. She received a vision soon after the Millerite Great Disappointment. In the context of many other visionaries, she was known for her conviction and fervent faith. Randall Balmer has described her as "one of the more important and colorful figures in the history of American religion". Walter Martin described her as "one of the most fascinating and controversial personages ever to appear upon the horizon of religious history."
White is the most translated female non-fiction author in the history of literature, as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender. Her writings covered theology, evangelism, Christian lifestyle, education and health (she also advocated vegetarianism). She promoted the establishment of schools and medical centers. During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books; but today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. Some of her more popular books include Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy. Her masterpiece of successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 140 languages.
Final years and death
Ellen White spent the final years of her life in Elmshaven, her home in Saint Helena, California after the death of her husband James White in 1881. During her final years she would travel less frequently as she concentrated upon writing her last works for the church. Ellen G. White died July 16, 1915, at her home in Elmshaven, which is now an Adventist Historical Site.
Credit to Wikipedia – “Ellen G. White”
Elfred Lee began drawing at the age of four while enduring extreme hardship in a World War 11 prison camp in the Philippines. Colored pencils from an artist friend provided him with an internal escape from captivity and privation. A daring raid by American paratroopers in 1945 saved the Lee family from execution.
Then in 1950, the Communist invasion of South Korea further tested his will to continue as an artist. During the Vietnam War, Elfred served in the U.S. Army as an Artist/ Photographer and was shot down in a helicopter while taking movies for the Pentagon. On one of his expeditions to Turkey, while terrorists were burning his equipment and battling the Turkish army, he flew to Israel and took valuable art training until peace was restored and he could return and continue his work. Elfred's artistic education includes two Masters in the United States and vital training in Japan, England and Israel. He has traveled extensively, exhibiting and painting portraits, including heads of state, corporate executives and movie stars. His experience as an Art Director and University Art Professor has added depth to his work which has been featured worldwide in books, magazines and movies.
He has lectured and exhibited nationwide and overseas and has been invited for breakfast with the President of the United States. He and his art have also appeared on many radio and television programs including Voice of America, Nightline and 20/20. He received the Best-in-Show Award from the President of the National Portrait Institute and has been active in the interior design of San Francisco's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and in the NASA Arts-in-Space Program.
In the world of art that depicts so much violence and desperation, Elfred Lee's art stands out for its beauty and discipline. Because he has personally experienced the ugly side of life, he has chosen to portray the uplifting, feeling of peace and joy of the abundant life. He has always had an interest in a healthy lifestyle as well as the health of our fragile planet. He loves to paint the beauty of the Earth and human life as we live in harmony and balance with Creation and the Environment.