“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 happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.
As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which looked as if it had been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School.” For two years the little girl had saved for this offering of love.
When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying the 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 does not end there…
Soon afterwards, a newspaper learned of the story and published It. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered the church a parcel of land worth many thousands of dollars. When told that the church could not pay much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.
Soon church members were making large donations and checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00, which was no small sum at the turn of the century. Her unselfish love had paid huge dividends.
When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church. It currently has a seating capacity of 3,300. Be sure to visit the Temple University, where thousands of students are educated. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at the Sunday school building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school again.
One of the rooms of the Sunday school building features the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr.Russel H. Conwell, author of the book, “Acres of Diamonds”.
When man goes in partnership with God, great things may, and often do, happen!