Do you remember having a dream when you were a child? For most of us it was probably along the lines of becoming a ballerina or walking on the moon. I remember begging for ice skating lessons when I turned 7, but we lived too far away from any rinks so I had to settle for piano lessons instead. Some children have much different dreams than the rest of us, and this story is no exception! One little girl decided she could change the world…one penny at a time!
A 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 happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to go.
Only a few weeks 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 seemed to have 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 get 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 wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land for only $10,000.
When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church in payments: the first being 57 cents.
The church received on single donation from a generous donor in the full amount of $10,000 to purchase the land. No one ever forgot the kindness of this little girl. 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 be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.
Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a 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 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. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, ‘Acres of Diamonds’.
This story is indeed mostly true a true one! Dr. Conwell has stated that he never found a note hidden in her wallet while handling her funeral, but that her parents gave him the 57 cents that she had saved up so that they could build a bigger church. This generous and thoughtful donation led to the church deciding to do just that! This story is incredible, and while this little girl had big dreams, she could never have expected them to grow so much! Too sweet!
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