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 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 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. Church members donated a total of $250 (a large sum of money at that time) and a house across the road was purchased, providing more space for the Sunday school. The over the next 5 years, the church and ministry grew, and more money came in. This little girl's 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 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.
Goes to show what God can do with 57 cents!
Be encouraged in your giving to God's work.
[There are a variety of versions of this story circulating on the internet. Some of them have been embellished somewhat. The above details are based on the first hand account of Rev. Russell H. Conwell, as delivered in his sermon on 1st December 1912 at Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia]