Madison College’s story is inspiring. It began with two young teachers, Edward Sutherland and Percy Magan, who were fully dedicated to doing God’s will. They felt called to set up a school that followed the principles of true education, and set out to look for the best place to establish it.
The two men found a property, but it was a rocky and barren plain. When Ellen White told them that this would be the site for a training school for young people, that it would be known across the country, and that its effects would be worldwide, the two men sat on a rock and cried. The place looked hopeless, but God had a plan and a promise to fulfill, and these men were willing to be the workers.
At the beginning of 2020 our group of young people had plans for the future. We had just begun a new ministry, Madison Missions, and found a beautiful property in Victoria, Australia. We opened up a health retreat with a five-year plan to create a training school after the Madison order in our country.
The retreat was open for a month when the first round of COVID-19 restrictions hit Australia, forcing us to close. When we had first prayed and decided to take on the property, our vision had already seemed impossible, but now having to close just after taking over—our situation seemed hopeless.
“When God opens the way for the accomplishment of a certain work and gives assurance of success, the chosen instrumentality must do all in his power to bring about the promised result. In proportion to the enthusiasm and perseverance with which the work is carried forward will be the success given.”1
We had to come up with a solution. We sped up our five-year plan: instead of launching industries in a couple of years’ time, we began a week after closing the health retreat. With so many young people on the property, each with separate talents, passions, and personalities, we branched out into multiple businesses.
We opened Beehive Community Services, where we began our first deliveries of firewood and plant-based meals on April 19. The meals expanded to include pies, baked goods, and fresh fruits and veggies—many grown in our onsite market garden. Most recently we started Beehive Tree Services with a team of three experienced arborists. Our plans to grow and expand are not yet complete.
We also considered the model of our health retreat. The next unexpected step was the change from “normal” health retreats that have been running in Australia to a new model pointing directly to our Maker and Healer, Christ.
When restrictions allowed, we opened up our retreat, The Maker Heals, where we received guests, Adventists and non-Adventists, pointing them toward the true Healer. It was a blessing to see each guest gain a stronger relationship with God while also experiencing the physical benefits promised us in His Word. We had one week with the guests before the restrictions hit again, and harder. We had to close once more.
Despite the challenges and setbacks Satan has put in our path, God’s promises have never seemed so real. God has brought us through each time, and His Word continues to sustain us.
We’ve begun filming for an online health retreat that has potential to reach around the world. The businesses continue to grow and expand with God’s blessing, and we are still on our path to set up a training school here in Australia.
From the outside, what we’ve taken on as a team looks and seems impossible, and by earthly standards it is. If we didn’t have the promises of God and the assurance that He will accomplish this work for us, none of us would be standing where we are today. God has led each of us here to this property for this time and mission. We’re a part of His plan, and the excitement of how He will continue to guide us is unexplainable!
“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.”2
Our vision for Australia is to train and send young self-supporting missionaries into God’s vineyard. There has been incredible progress this year. So many prayers answered! But this is a pioneering work, and there’s still much to be done. Right now we are leasing a property (Abide Wellness Retreat), which was built for the very purpose of Adventist mission. Our goal is to enter a purchase contract by raising $1 million. By God’s grace, we will keep this property in the hands of God’s people, where it may be a light on a hill that cannot be hidden!
You can find out more about our team and vision by checking out our website, www.madison.org.au, and viewing our new documentary, Madison Story—A Journey From Past to Present, which you can find on the Eastward Missions YouTube channel.
1 Ellen G.White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1917), p. 263.
2 Ellen G.White, Life Sketches (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1915), p. 196.