A pretty little tale to warm your soul as Christmas approaches.
GOD AND 57 CENTS
A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was too crowded. "I can't go to Sunday school," she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt, appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday School class. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who had no place to learn about Jesus.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for the kind-hearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found that seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish handwriting that read, "This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School." For two years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building. But the story doesn't end there! A newspaper learned of the story and published it. A realtor who read it offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the church could not pay that amount, he offered it for a total of 57 cents. Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl's gift had increased to $250,000.00--A huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.
When you're in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300, and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building that houses hundreds of Sunday scholars, so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time. In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, sosacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, Acres of Diamonds.
Goes to show what God can do with unselfish love for others and 57 cents.
Based in truth, this "story" is actually rooted in a sermon that Russell H. Conwell delivered to his Grace Baptist (Temple) church congregation in 1912. It is still just as amazing in it's truth. Please go to THE HISTORY OF FIFTY-SEVEN CENTS for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says. You can also see the little girl's, Hattie, portrait there.
I know that God can use such simple beginning to accomplish so much. In a smaller scale, at my former church, the organ up and died. My dear friend and sister in the Lord played the organ there. Our worship didn't seem full without the strains of the organ. I put one dollar bill in an offering envelope, marked it Organ Fund. At business meeting for months, there was that $1 contribution listed as a line item in the budget. Then suddenly it began to grow! Eventually the church did have enough money in that fund to purchase the new organ. I, personally never contributed another dime. Times were tight. It was all I could do to tithe. But God used my concern and my dollar bill as seed money.