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 have no place to worship Jesus.
Some time 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 assist with the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found. 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." She had worked and saved for this offering of love to build a larger church facility. (Picture: Hattie May Wiatt - courtesy of the Baptist Temple Church in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.)
Dr. Conwell challenged his deacons - and some of the deacons challenged him - 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. Church members made large donations. Checks came from various sources. Within five years the little girl's gift had increased to $250.00 --a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). From this money a house was purchased and used by the church. It was eventually sold and through the inspiration of the sacrifice of Hattie May Wiatt, more funds were raised which eventually purchased the property of Temple Baptist Church and Temple University.
Her unselfish love has 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 Temple University Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of Sunday Schoolers, 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, 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.
A true story, which goes to show WHAT GOD, CAN DO WITH 57 cents.
(Picture: Russel Conwell, circa
The full text of Rev. Conwell's Message at
the Temple University Web Site
Sunday Morning, December 1, 1912
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