During the latter part of her stay in Australia, Ellen White was instructed in vision that the church should establish Sanitariums in Southern California. When she returned to the United States in 1900 this vision was still fresh in her memory and she was given more instructions regarding the matter. In October of 1902, she wrote “I have been instructed that the work in southern California should have advantages that it has not yet enjoyed. I have been shown that in southern California there are properties for sale on which buildings are already erected that could be utilized for our work and that such properties will be offered to us at much less than their original cost… these places, away from the din and confusion of the congested cities, we can establish sanitariums in which the sick can be cared for in the way in which God designs them to be.” 5BIO 359
The first of three Sanitariums to be established in Southern California was the Paradise Valley Sanitarium. The property was initially offered for $20,000 but was ultimately purchased for $4000. Later another property was secured for the establishment of the Glendale Hospital, which was reduced from $50,000 right down to $12,000.
In 1905 while travelling east to attend the General Conference session Ellen White and her travelling party made a short pit-stop in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, she remembered the strong impression she had received of the need for a third sanitarium to be established nearby. Her mind was repeatedly drawn to the areas of Riverside, San Bernardino and Redlands. As early as February of 1905 she had written to Elder Ballenger urging him to look for a property in the Redlands area that would be suitable for a Sanitarium and that could be purchased at a reasonable cost. Later in April, she had written to John Burden, the manager of the Glendale Sanitarium urging him too, to look for a parcel of land in the Riverside, San Bernardino, and Redlands areas that would be suitable to establish a Sanitarium on.
A committee was established and they found a suitable property at Loma Linda. When Ellen White’s train stopped in Los Angeles in May of 1905 some of the brethren including Elder Burden boarded the train to tell her about the property. She was excited and eagerly requested that they send her more details in Washington.
A few days after her arrival in Washington Burden wrote to her describing the property. After reading the letter out loud to W.C. White she mentioned to him that the description of the property sounded just like the properties she had been shown in vision.
However, as appealing as the property was, the price was an issue. Initially offered for $110,000 it was then reduced to $85,000 but this was still far too much. The General Conference had a $0 debt policy at the time and was unable to assist financially. Eventually, though the price was reduced to $40,000 which was quite reasonable. The property included 31 acres of grain land, 22 acres of alfalfa, vegetable gardens, an apricot orchard, several cottages on a hill and around $15,000 worth of equipment and supplies.
The financial arrangement for securing the property was a downpayment of $5000 upfront to be followed by three, monthly payments of $5000 and then a lump sum payment of $20,000 at the end of 3 years. The Conference baulked a little at the financial obligation but Ellen White spurred them on revealing that she had been shown that this would also be an educational centre in the future. On the 12th of June 1905, Ellen White visited the property repeatedly stating that she had seen the place before. She had never visited the area in person but was referring to visions she had been shown in reference to the property in the Autumn of 1903 and also 1901.
At a meeting of the church members soon after this, the president of the California Conference spoke. He mentioned to the constituents that Ellen White had said that this sanitarium should be the principal training centre on the west coast. Ellen White immediately interrupted him with the correction “This will be the principal training centre on the West Coast”
The conference agreed to move ahead with the purchase and put forward the money for a downpayment. When each $5000 payment was due it was a struggle to come by the funds and church members across the conference made huge sacrificial offerings to meet the deadline. In one instance they had no money to meet the scheduled payment until just a few hours before the deadline at which point, almost miraculously a check arrived in the mail covering the cost. God continued to provide the funds and instead of taking three years to clear the outstanding amount the loan was paid off in 6 months.
Over the years the work at Loma Linda would grow to include a hospital to operate alongside the training school and more recently a children’s hospital. One of the early names of this institution was the Loma Linda College of Medical Evangelists revealing the link between evangelism and medicine. Over the years many missionaries have gone from these institutions to mission fields both at home and abroad.