May 26, 1855. Although I did not have all the money necessary to begin to build the new Orphan House, I began to look for land. For the past four years I never had a doubt that it was the will of God that I build accommodations for seven hundred more orphans. Yet I could see the advantages of having two houses instead of one. I checked to see whether another house could be built on each side of the present Orphan House.
After I measured the ground and found it could be done, I called in the architects to survey the area and to make a rough plan of two houses, one on each side. We would not only save money by this plan, but the direction and inspection of the whole establishment would be much easier because the buildings would be close together. We would still have plenty of land to grow our own vegetables. Once I saw what could be accomplished on the ground we owned already, I decided to build, without any further delay at the south side of the new Orphan House. The plans are now ready; and as soon as all the necessary preliminary arrangements can be made, the work will begin.
This house is intended to accommodate four hundred female orphans. With regard to the other house to be built at the north side of the new Orphan House, nothing definite can be stated at present. Enough money is available to build and furnish the house for four hundred orphans, and we expect that something will be left over. But there is not sufficient money to begin to build both.
A strong call is on my life for caring for destitute orphans. Seven hundred and fifteen orphans are now waiting for admission to this Orphan House. Only thirty-nine orphan homes provide care for three thousand seven hundred and sixty-four orphans. When the new Orphan House was being built, nearly six thousand young orphans were living in the prisons of England because there was no other place for them to go. To prevent them from going to prison and being brought up in sin, and to win their souls for God, I desire to enlarge the present establishment so that we are able to receive one thousand orphans. Individuals who have chosen not to live for the present time but for eternity will have the opportunity to help me care for these children. It is a great honor to be allowed to do anything for the Lord. When the day of recompense comes, our only regret will be that we have done so little for Him, not that we have done too much.
If anyone desires to live a life of faith and trust in God he must: Not merely say that he trusts in God but must really do so. Often individuals profess to trust in God, but they embrace every opportunity where they may directly or indirectly tell someone about their need. I do not say it is wrong to make known our financial situation, but it hardly displays trust in God to expose our needs for the sake of getting other people to help us. God will take us at our word. If we do trust in Him, we must be satisfied to stand with Him alone.
The individual who desires to live this way must be content whether he is rich or poor. He must be willing to live in abundance or in poverty. He must be willing to leave this world without any possessions.
He must be willing to take the money in God's way, not merely in large sums, but in small. Many times I have had a single shilling given to me. To have refused such tokens of Christian love would have been ungracious.
He must be willing to live as the Lord's steward. If anyone does not give out of the blessings which the Lord gives to him, then the Lord, who influences the hearts of His children to give, would soon cause those channels to be dried up. My good income increased even more when I determined that, by God's help, His poor and His work would be helped by my money. From that time on, the Lord was pleased to entrust me with more.
May 26, 1856. Yesterday evening it was twenty-four years since I came to labor in Bristol. In looking back on the Lord's goodness to my family and myself, the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, and the saints among whom I seek to serve Him, 11 exclaim, "What has God wrought!" I marvel at His kindness, and yet I do not. If I remain longer on earth, I would expect even more manifestations of His love.
The Lord continues to allow us to see fruit in connection with the orphan work. He is working in the hearts and lives of those who are now under our care. We often hear that those who were formerly under our care have become Christians and are living for the Lord. The kindness and grace of God is drawing many children to Him at the Orphan House.
November 12, 1857. The long looked-for and long prayed-for day has now arrived, and the desire of my heart was granted to me. I opened the house for four hundred more orphans today. How precious this was to me after praying every day for seven years. This blessing did not come unexpectedly to me but had been looked for and had been expected in the full assurance of faith, in God's own time.
November 20. The boiler at the new Orphan House No. 1 leaked considerably. We thought that it would last through the winter, although we suspected it was nearly worn out. For me to do nothing and say, "I will trust in God" would be careless presumption, not faith in God.
The condition of the boiler could not be known without taking down the brickwork surrounding it. What then was to be done? For the children, especially the younger infants, I was deeply concerned that they would suffer for lack of warmth. But how were we to obtain heat? The installation of a new boiler would probably take many weeks. Repairing the boiler was a questionable matter because of the size of the leak. Nothing could be decided until the brick-chamber was at least partially removed. That would take days, and what was to be done in the meantime to find warm rooms for three hundred children?
At last I decided to open the brick chamber and see the extent of the damage. The day was set when the workmen were to come, and all the necessary arrangements were made. The heat, of course, had to be shut off while the repairs were going on.
After the day was set for the repairs, a bleak north wind set in, bringing the first really cold weather of the winter. The repairs could not be put off, so I asked the Lord for two things-that He would change the north wind into a south wind, and that He would give to the workmen a desire to work. I remembered how much Nehemiah accomplished in fifty-two days while building the walls of Jerusalem because "the people had a mind to work" (Neh. 4:6).
The memorable day came. The evening before, the bleak north wind still blew, but on Wednesday, the south wind blew, exactly as I had prayed. The weather was so mild that no heat was needed. The brickwork was removed, the leak was soon found, and the repairmen set to work.
About half-past eight in the evening, when I was going to leave for my home, I was informed that the manager of the repair firm had arrived to see how the work was going on. I went to the cellar to see him and the men. The manager said, "The men will work late this evening and come very early again tomorrow."
"We would rather, sir," said the foreman, "work all night:"
Then I remembered the second part of my prayer-that God would give the men "a mind to work." By the next morning, the repair of the boiler was accomplished. Within thirty hours the brickwork was up again, and the fire was in the boiler. All the time, the south wind blew so mildly that there was not the least need for any heat.