January 7, 1838. My general health seems to have improved, but this is the ninth's Lord's day that I have been unable to minister in the Word. My affliction causes me to be very irritable.
January 15. My headache has become less severe since yesterday afternoon. But I am still far from being well. God is purifying me for His blessed service, and I will soon be restored to the work. Also, He has restored a fervency of spirit which I have now enjoyed for the past three days. He has drawn my soul into real communion with Himself and into a holy desire to be more conformed to His dear Son.
When God gives a spirit of prayer, it is easy to pray! I spent about three hours in prayer over Psalms 64 and 65. In reference to that precious word, "O thou that hearest prayer" (Psa. 65:2), I asked the Lord the following petitions and entreated Him to record them in heaven and to answer them: That He would give me grace to glorify Him by a submissive and patient spirit under my affliction.
That the work of conversion through Brother Craik and myself might not cease but go on as much now as when we first came to Bristol, and even more abundantly than then.
That He would give more spiritual prosperity to the church under our care than we have as yet enjoyed.
That His rich blessing would rest on this little work so that many may be converted through it and many benefited by it.
That He would bring salvation to all the children under our care.
That He would supply the means to carry on these institutions and to enlarge them.
I believe God has heard my prayers. He will make it manifest in His own good time that He has heard me. I have recorded my petitions that when God has answered them, His name will be glorified.
January 16. How very good is the Lord! Fervency of spirit, through His grace, is continued to me, although this morning, if not for the help of God, I would have lost it again. The weather has been very cold for several days, but today I felt it more, due to the weakness of my body.
I arose from my knees and stirred the fire, but I still felt very cold. I moved to another part of the room but felt even colder. At last, having prayed for some time, I decided to walk to help my circulation.
I entreated the Lord that this circumstance might not rob me of the precious communion I have had with Him the last three days-for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I also confessed my sin of irritability on account of the cold and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy on me, and my peace was restored. When I returned, I sought the Lord again in prayer and had uninterrupted communion with Him.
July 12. The funds are now reduced to about twenty pounds. But thanks to the Lord, my faith is stronger than it was when we had a larger sum on hand. God has never at any time, from the beginning of the work, allowed me to distrust Him. Nevertheless, real faith is manifested by prayer. Therefore, I prayed with the headmaster of the Boy's Orphan House. Besides my wife and brother Craik, he is the only person I speak to about our financial status.
While we were praying, an orphan child from Frome was brought to us. Some believers sent five pounds with the child. Thus we received a timely answer to our need. We have given permission for seven children to come in and plan to allow five more. Although our funds are low, we trust that God will meet our needs.
July 17 and 18. These two days we have had two special prayer meetings, from six to nine in the evening, to publicly commend the Boy's Orphan House to the Lord. Our funds are now very low. About twenty pounds remain, and in a few days thirty pounds, at least, will be needed. But I purposely avoided saying anything about our present needs and only praised God and spoke about the abundance with which our gracious Father, "the Father of the fatherless," has supplied us. The hand of God will be clearly seen when He sends help.
July 22. I walked through our little garden, meditating on Heb. 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever." I meditated on His unchangeable love, power, and wisdom while I prayed about my present spiritual and temporal circumstances.
Suddenly, the present need of the Orphan Houses was brought to my mind. I said to myself, "Jesus in His love and power has supplied me with what I have needed for the orphans. In the same unchangeable love and power, He will provide me with what I need for the future." Joy flooded my soul when I realized the unchangeableness of our mighty Lord. About one minute later, a letter arrived with twenty pounds enclosed.
August 29. Sixteen believers were baptized. Among those who were baptized was a brother eighty-four years old and another over seventy. For the latter, his believing wife had prayed thirty-eight years. At last the Lord answered her prayers for his conversion.
August 31. I have been waiting on the Lord for finances because the expense reports from the Girl's Orphan House have arrived, and there is no money available to pay for housekeeping. But the Lord has not yet sent help. When the matron called today for money, one of the laborers gave her two pounds of his own.
September 1. The Lord in His wisdom and love has not yet sent help. Where it comes from is not my concern. But I believe God will, in due time, send help. His hour is not yet come. This is the most trying time that I have had in the ministry concerning finances. But I know that I will yet praise the Lord for His help.
September 5. Our hour of trial continues. The Lord mercifully has given enough to supply our daily necessities. But He gives by the day now, and almost by the hour, as we need it. Nothing came in yesterday. I sought the Lord again and again, both yesterday and today, and it seems that He is saying, "My hour is not yet come."
I have faith in God. I believe that He will surely send help. Many pounds are needed within a few days, and there is not a penny in hand. This morning two pounds were given for the present needs by one of the laborers in the work.
Evening. The Lord sent help to encourage me to continue to wait on Him and to trust in Him. As I was praying this afternoon, I felt fully assured that the Lord would send help. I praised Him before I saw the answer and asked Him to encourage our hearts, especially that He would not allow my faith to fail.
A few minutes after I had prayed, the headmaster brought more than four pounds which had come in by several small donations. Tomorrow the account books will be brought from the Infant Orphan House, and money must be advanced for housekeeping. I thought for a moment it might be a good idea to keep three pounds of this money for that purpose. But it occurred to me immediately, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34). The Lord can provide by tomorrow much more than I need; and I, therefore, sent three pounds to one of the sisters whose quarterly salary was due. The remainder went to the Boy's Orphan House for housekeeping. Thus I am still penniless. My hope is in God, and He will provide.
September 6. The account books were brought from the Infant Orphan House, and the matron asked when money would be advanced for housekeeping. I said, "Tomorrow," although I did not have a single penny in hand. About an hour later, the headmaster sent me a note saying that he had received one pound this morning and that last evening another brother sent twenty-nine pounds of salt, forty-four dozen onions, and twenty-six pounds of grain.
September 7. The time had come to send money to the Infant Orphan House, but the Lord had not sent any more. I gave the pound which had come in yesterday and two shillings and two pence. which had been put into the box in my house, trusting the good Lord to send in more.
September 8. My gracious Lord has not sent me help yet. Yesterday and today I have been pleading with God, giving reasons why He would be pleased to send help. The arguments which I used are: I began the work for the glory of God that there might be visible proof of God supplying, in answer to prayer only, the necessities of the orphans. He is the living God and eager to answer prayer.
God is the "Father of the fatherless," and as their Father, He should be pleased to provide. (See Psa. 68:5.)
I have received the children in the name of Jesus. Therefore, He, in these children, has been received, fed, and clothed. (See Mark 9:36-37.)
The faith of many of the children of God has been strengthened by this work. If God withheld the means for the future, those who are weak in faith would be discouraged. If the ministry was continued, their faith might still further be strengthened.
Many enemies would laugh if the Lord withheld supplies and say, 'We knew that this enthusiasm would come to nothing."
Many of the children of God, who are uninstructed or in a carnal state, would feel Justified to continue their alliance with the world in their ministries. They would continue in their unscriptural proceedings to raise money if He did not help me.
God knows that I cannot provide for these children in my own strength. Therefore, He would not allow this burden to lie on me long without sending help. My fellow-laborers in the ministry also trust in Him.
I would have to dismiss the children from under our scriptural instruction to their former companions if He does not help me.
He could prove wrong those who said, "In the beginning supplies might be expected while the ministry is new, but after a while, people will lose interest and stop supporting it."
If He did not provide, how could I explain the many remarkable answers to prayer which He had given to me previously which have shown me that this work is of God?
In some small measure I now understand the meaning of that word, "how long," which frequently occurs in the prayers of the Psalms. But even now, by the grace of God, my eyes are on Him only, and I believe that He will send help.
September 10. Monday morning. No money came in either Saturday or yesterday. The matter has now become a solemn crisis. We called the brothers and sisters together for prayer, and I explained our situation. Despite this trial of faith, I still believe God will help us. Nothing should be purchased that we cannot pay for, and the children should never lack nourishing food and warm clothing. We discussed what unnecessary possessions could be sold.
A few hours later, nine six pence were anonymously put into the box at Gideon Chapel. This money seemed like a promise that God would have compassion and send more. About ten o'clock, while I was again in prayer for help, a sister gave two sovereigns to my wife for the orphans. She felt she had already delayed too long. A few minutes later, she gave me two sovereigns more. She did all this without knowing anything about our need. Thus the Lord most mercifully has sent us a little help and greatly encouraged my faith.
September 12. The trial still continues. Only nine shillings came in today, given by one of the laborers. In the midst of this great trial of faith, the Lord mercifully keeps me in great peace. He also allows me to see that our labor is not in vain. Yesterday one of the orphans died who was only about nine years old. She had come to know Jesus several months before her death.
September 13. No help has come yet. This morning I told the brothers and sisters about the state of the funds. We prayed together and had a very happy meeting. One of the sisters told me not to trouble myself about her salary because she did not want any for a year.
September 14. I met again with the brothers and sisters for prayer because the Lord has not sent help. After prayer one of the laborers gave me all the money he had, sixteen shillings, saying that it would not be right to pray if he did not give what he had.
Up to this day, the matrons of the three houses had been in the habit of paying the bakers and the milkman weekly. Sometimes we paid the butcher and grocer this way, too. But now, since the Lord provides for us by the day, we consider it wrong to go on any longer in this way, as the week's payment might come due, and we would have no money to meet it.
We want to act according to the commandment of the Lord, "Owe no man anything" (Rom. 13:8). Since the Lord gives us our supplies daily, we purpose to pay for every article when it is purchased. We will never buy anything unless we can pay for it at once, however much it may seem to be needed.
September 15. We met again this morning for prayer. God comforts our hearts, and we are looking for His help. Enough provisions remain for today and tomorrow, but there is no money on hand to buy bread. During the day enough money came in, and we were able to buy the usual quantity of bread and have some money left. May God be praised, who gave us grace to decide not to buy anything for which we cannot pay at once! We thankfully took this money out of our Father's hands as proof that He still cares for us. In His own time, He will send us larger sums.