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 which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in a childish handwriting which 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 does not end there! A newspaper learned of the story and published it. It was read by a Realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered it for 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 are 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 which 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 Hattie May Wiatt, 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”.
May this story, as well as the devotional, inspire each and every one of us to appreciate the loving gift of children, entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father. And may we never grow weary of our task to raise well balanced children (not limited to our own, but extended to include the children of family, friends & even strangers). And may we walk our spiritual journey with love; and pray for wisdom to inspire each other, to build each other and to carry each other in difficult times.