Looking to the Lord: Chapter 13
January 1, 1840. About one o'clock this morning, I received a sealed envelope with some money in it for the orphans. The individual who gave it was deeply in debt, and I was aware that she had been repeatedly asked by her creditors for payment. I resolved to return the envelope without opening it because no one has a right to give while in debt. I did this although I knew there was not enough on hand to meet the expenses of the day. About eight o'clock this morning a brother brought five pounds which he had just received from his mother. The brother was led to bring it at once!
January 25. I have prayed much this week about going to Germany to see certain brothers who plan to go as missionaries to the East Indies and to see my father once more. I am led to go just now, instead of delaying the trip, because my health is again failing. This way, I will continue to serve in the work of the Lord and benefit my health at the same time. Lord, keep me from making a mistake in this matter!
February 2. Today and yesterday nearly nine pounds have come in for the orphans. How kind of the Lord to send this money on the eve of my leaving home!
March 9. During my absence from Bristol, the Lord not only supplied all the needs of the orphans, but when I returned, He supplied even more than there was when I left.
March 26. On the 17th of this month I received the following letter from a brother who had been used by the Lord several times to supply our need.
"I have received a little money. Do you have any present need for the institution under your care? I know you do not ask, except of Him whose work you are doing; but to answer when asked seems to be a right thing to do. I have a reason for desiring to know the present state of your finances. If you do not need the money, other areas of the Lord's work or other people of the Lord may need help. Kindly inform me the amount you need at this present time."
When this letter came, we were in need. Nevertheless, I answered it as follows: "While I thank you for your love, and while I agree with you that there is a difference between asking for money and answering when asked, nevertheless, I do not feel at liberty to speak about the state of our funds. The primary object of this ministry is to lead those who are weak in faith to see that there is reality in dealing with God alone."
After I sent off the answer, I prayed, "Lord, You know that for Your sake I did not tell this brother about our need. Now, Lord, show afresh that there is reality in speaking to You only about our need. Speak to this brother, so that he may help us."
Today, in answer to my request, this brother sent one hundred pounds. I now have money for establishing the infant school and for ordering more Bibles. Also, the orphans are again supplied for a week.
April 7. This evening I received information that my dear father died on March 30. During no period did I pray more frequently or more earnestly for his conversion than during the last year of his' life. But I did not see the answer to my prayers.
May 2. Nothing has come in for five days, and we are penniless again. In answer to prayer, five shillings sixpence came in, and some trinkets were sent. Thus we were helped through this day. The Lord allowed five days to pass away without influencing the hearts of any to send us supplies, but the moment there is real need, the stream runs again.
May 3. Last evening a brother was baptized, who on the first Sunday of this year came with his fiancee to Bethesda Chapel. Neither were believers at the time. Since April 1, forty-one people have come to us to speak about their souls.
May 10. Today five of the orphans were baptized. There are now fourteen of them in fellowship.
May 26. Nothing had come in. My other work kept me from going to the Orphan Houses until seven in the evening when the workers met together for prayer. One of them had given seventeen shillings which had been divided between the three houses. With this we purchased all necessary articles. We are now very poor.
May 27. We met for prayer at eleven this morning. No money had come in, but there was enough for dinner in all the houses. This morning the last of the coal was used in the Infant Orphan House. In the Boys': Orphan House was enough coal for today but no money to buy more. In our time of need, a brother sent a load of coal. We plan to meet this afternoon for more prayer. May the Lord graciously send help in the meantime!
Evening. The Lord has had mercy! Several days ago a person gave us several articles to be sold for the benefit of the orphans. He owed us six pounds fifteen shillings. This morning I asked the Lord to incline his heart to bring the money, or at least a part of it, since we were in such need. Just as I was going to meet for prayer with my fellow-laborers this afternoon, he brought four pounds.
But our kind Father showed us further that He had withheld supplies for a season only to test our faith. Enough has come in to supply us for several days. Thus the day, which had begun with prayer, ended in praise. But I must mention one more thing which is even more precious: the Lord has begun to work in the hearts of several of the boys. They want to learn more about Jesus.
August 1. A few days ago a brother was staying with me. He was on his way to visit his father whom he had not seen for more than two years. His father was greatly opposed to the decided steps his son had taken to serve the Lord. Before this brother left, that precious promise of our Lord was brought to my mind: "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 18:19). Accordingly, I went to the brother's room, and we prayed together for a kind reception from his father and the conversion of both parents.
Today this brother returned. The Lord has already answered one part of the prayer-he was kindly received, contrary to all natural expectation. May the Lord now help us both to look for an answer to the other part of our prayer! Nothing is too hard for the Lord!
[The father of this brother lived ten more years after August 1, 1840, until he was about eighty-six years of age. He continued in a life of much sin and opposition to the truth, and the prospect of his conversion became darker and darker. But at last the Lord answered prayer. This aged sinner was entirely changed, trusted in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of his soul, and became as much attached to his believing son as before he had been opposed to him. He wanted his son near him as much as possible to read the Holy Scriptures to him and pray with him.]
August 8. This evening I was meditating on the fourth Psalm. The words in verse three, "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him," spoke to my heart and led me to pray for spiritual blessings. While in prayer, the needs of the orphans were brought to my mind, and I prayed about this, too.
About five minutes later, I was informed that a sister wished to see me. She brought one pound ten shillings for the orphans. Thus the Lord has Already kindly sent a little to begin the week with.
August 23. As we have often found it to be the case, so it is again now. After the Lord has tried our faith, He, in the love of His heart, gives us an abundance. For the glory of His name and for the trial of our faith, He allows us to be poor and then graciously supplies our needs.
August 29. Very little has come in for the other funds. The chief supply of our needs has been by the sale of Bibles. Last Saturday I was not able to pay all of the weekly salaries of the teachers in the day schools. However, I am not a debtor to them because it is understood that they must not look to me for payment, but to the Lord. It appeared now to be the will of the Lord that the brothers and sisters who labor in the day schools would also share the trials and joys of living by faith with us. We all met, and after I had laid on their hearts the importance of keeping the state of funds to themselves, we prayed together.
September 5. Because so little has come in during the last days, at least- three pounds was required to supply the needs of today. Not one penny, however, was in hand when the day began. In the afternoon, all of us met for prayer. A few teachers gave some of their own money, but it was not enough. Dinner has not been provided for tomorrow and there is no money to buy milk.
Now observe how our kind Father helped us! This evening a sister who sells some things for us brought two pounds ten shillings sixpence. Though she did not feel well, she said she had come because it was on her heart, and she could not stay away.
September 8. Our prayer meetings have been a blessing to us and united us more than ever in the work. We have them now every morning at seven; and we will continue them, the Lord helping us, until we see His hand stretched forth. We need a stove in one of the schoolrooms and a supply of Bibles and New Testaments. We also want to help missionary brethren who labor in dependence upon the Lord for the supply of their temporal necessities.
September 21. A brother from London gave me ten pounds to be used where it was needed most. This brother knew nothing about our work, when he came to. Bristol three days ago. The Lord shows us His continual care over us by raising up new helpers.
Those who trust in the Lord will never be disappointed. Some who helped us for a while may fall asleep in Jesus, some may grow cold in the service of the Lord, some may be as desirous as ever to help but no longer have the means, and some may have both a willing heart to help and the means but may see it to be the Lord's will to give in another way. If we were to lean upon man, we would surely be disappointed; but in leaning upon the living God alone, we are beyond disappointment and beyond being forsaken for any reason.
October 7. It is now five weeks since we met daily for prayer. In addition to temporal needs, we ask for grace and wisdom for ourselves in the work, for the conversion of the children under our care, for grace for those children who have already accepted the Lord, for a blessing upon the distribution of the Scriptures, and for a blessing upon the work of the Church at large.
Never since the work began have we had to continue so long in prayer for funds without obtaining the answer. The Lord, however, gave us grace to continue in prayer, and He kept our hearts in the assurance that He would help. Now, in His own time, He made it manifest that He had not only heard our prayers, but that He had answered them even before we called. Today we received from the East Indies a bank order for one hundred pounds, which had been sent two months ago-several days before we even began to pray.
November 8. I planned to go to Trowbridge yesterday and had made the arrangements on Friday evening. But no sooner had I decided to do so, than I felt no peace about going. After praying about it on Friday evening and yesterday morning, I decided not to go. I began to look for blessings for this day, believing that the Lord had kept me here for a good reason.
This evening I was led to share the truth of the gospel with some who had not yet accepted Jesus as their Lord. I immediately saw fruit from the Word. I talked with one man until about ten o'clock, as long as I had any strength left. The Lord, in His mercy toward them, kept me from going to Trowbridge.
December 9. Although our trials of faith during this year have been more than during any previous year, and although we have been often reduced to the greatest extremity, yet the orphans have lacked nothing. They always have had good nourishing food and the necessary articles of clothing.
If anyone thinks that on account of our trials of faith during this year we have been disappointed in our expectations or discouraged in the work, my answer is that the very opposite is true. Such days were expected from the beginning. The chief end for which the institution was established is that the Church would see the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in answer to prayer.
Our desire, therefore, is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord would graciously support us in the trial and that we may not dishonor Him by distrust.
This way of living brings the Lord remarkably near. Morning by morning, He inspects our supplies that He may send help as it is needed. I have never had a greater awareness of the Lord's presence than when after breakfast nothing was left for dinner, and then the Lord provided the dinner for more than one hundred people; or when, after dinner, there was nothing for the tea, and yet the Lord provided the tea-all this without one single human being having been informed about our need. One thing is certain-we are not tired of doing the Lord's work in this way.
Many people have commented that such a way of living must cause the mind to continually think of how to obtain food and clothes, and thus become unfit for spiritual work. I answer that our minds are seldom concerned about the necessities of life because the care for them is laid upon our Father. Because we are His children, He not only allows us to do so but wants us to do so.
Do not think that these answers to prayer are only for us and cannot be enjoyed by all the saints. Every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses and to trust in the Lord for means for them. Yet, there is no reason why you may not experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children.
Prove the faithfulness of God by carrying your every want to Him. Only maintain an upright heart. But if you live in sin and if you willfully and habitually do things which you know are contrary to the will of God, then you cannot expect Him to hear you. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer" (Psa. 66:18-19).
A few more interesting points are: During this year, six day schools for poor children have been entirely supported by the funds of our institution. The number of all the children that have had schooling in the day schools through the institution, since its formation, amounts to 2,216. The number of those at present in the six day schools is 303.
These day schools have been assisted by the children paying about - one-sixth of their own expenses.
One Sunday school has been entirely supported by the funds of the institution.
Since the formation of the institution, one adult school has been connected with it. On Sunday afternoons since it began, about 150 adults have been instructed.
We have given out many Bibles and Testaments and supported missionary work.
During the last fourteen months, we have held Bible studies especially for the children. They have shown great interest in these meetings, and I thankfully ascribe this to the Lord. I believe it is a forerunner of greater blessing.
6. During the last year, three of the Sunday school children have been received into fellowship. At the end of last year, eight orphans received communion; and during the present year, fourteen more were received.
In last year's report we stated that we were looking for fruit In the conversion of the children. We have prayed earnestly for them, and the Lord has dealt with us according to our expectations. But I expect far more than what we have seen. The chief object of our work is to demonstrate the reality of power with God in prayer. As we hoped and as it has been our prayer, the Lord gives us the joy of seeing one child after another brought to Him.
It appears to me that believers generally have expected far too little present fruit from their labors among children. They hope that the Lord will some day confirm their instruction and -answer the prayers which they offer up on the children's behalf. The Bible assures us that in everything we do for the Lord, including bringing up children in the fear of the Lord, our labor is not in vain. We have to guard against thinking that it does not matter whether we see present fruit or not. On the contrary, we should give the Lord no rest until we see fruit. Therefore, in persevering yet submissive prayer, we should make our requests own to God. I am now looking for many more children to be converted.
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