May 18, 1836. The Lord has crowned the prayers of His servant concerning the establishment of an Orphan House with great success. My prayer was that He would graciously provide a house, either as a loan or as a gift, or that someone might be led to pay the rent for one. Furthermore, I asked that He would give me one thousand pounds for the work and suitable individuals to take care of the children. A day or two later, I asked that He would put it into the hearts of His people to send me articles of furniture and some clothes for the children.
In answer to these petitions, many articles of furniture, clothing, and food were sent. A conditional offer of a house, as a gift, was made, and several individuals offered to take care of the children. Various sums of money were also given, varying from one hundred pounds to a halfpenny. The above results have come in answer to prayer, without me asking anyone for one single thing. I did not keep silent about our needs on account of lack of confidence in the brethren or because I doubted their love for the Lord, but I wanted to see the hand of God much more clearly.
I brought even the most minute circumstances concerning the Orphan House before the Lord, being conscious of my own weakness and ignorance. One point I had never prayed about, however, was for the Lord to send more children. I took it for granted that there would be plenty of applications.
The appointed time came, and no applications were being made. This circumstance led me to bow low before my God in prayer and to examine the motives of my heart once more. I could still say that His glory was my chief aim-that others might see it is not a vain thing to trust in the living God.
Continuing in prayer, I was at last able to say from my heart that I would rejoice in God being glorified in this matter, even if it meant bringing the whole plan to nothing. But it still seemed more glorifying to God to establish and prosper the Orphan House. I then asked Him heartily to send applications.
I now enjoyed a peaceful state of heart concerning the subject and was also more assured than ever that God would establish the work. The very next day the first application was made, and within a short time forty-three more were received. I rented a house, which because of its cheapness and size, was very suitable.
We intended to take in children from seven to twelve years of age. But after six applications had been made for children between four and six years, it became a subject of solemn and prayerful consideration whether to accept these children as long as there were vacancies. I came at last to the conclusion to take in the little girls under seven years of age.
An Orphan House was needed for male children under seven years old also. Clothing was even sent for little boys. Since the Lord has done far above what I could have expected, I. decided to establish an Infant Orphan House.
June 3. From May 16 up to this day, I have been confined to the house and a part of the time to my bed because of sickness. Almost every day during this time, I have been able to write a narrative of the Lord's dealings with me. My greatest objection against writing It for publication was a lack of time. Now, this affliction leaves my mind free and gives me time because I am confined to the house. I have written over one hundred pages.
June 14. This morning we prayed about the schools and the circulation of the Scriptures. Besides asking for blessings upon the work, we have also asked the Lord for the finances we need. The rent for the classrooms will be due on July 1, and we need at least forty pounds more to continue the circulation of the Scriptures, to pay the salaries of the teachers, and other expenses. We have only about seven pounds for all these needs. I also pray for the remainder of the thousand pounds for the Orphan House.
June 21. The Lord has sent us, through the offerings last week, the amount due for the rent of two classrooms. We even have five pounds more than is needed. Once more the Lord has answered our prayers.
July, 28. We would not have been able to pay the weekly salary of the teachers had not the Lord helped us again today. This evening a brother gave eight pounds from a number of his workmen who paid weekly one penny each of their own accord toward our funds. The money had been collecting for many months, and, in this our time of need, it had been put into the heart of this brother to bring it.
October 1. In dependence upon the Lord alone for support, we hired a brother as a headmaster for a sixth day school. On account of the many deliverances which we have had lately, we have not hesitated to enlarge the work and another boys' school was greatly needed.
October 5. Twenty-five pounds was given to me for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. The Lord has already given the means of defraying the expenses of the new boys' school for some months to come.
October 19. I have at last employed a sister as matron for the Infant Orphan House. Up to this day, I had never met an individual who seemed suitable, although money has been available for some time to begin this work. Applications have been made for several infant orphans.
October 25. By the kind hand of God, we have obtained suitable premises for the Infant Orphan House.
November 5. A brother gave one hundred pounds to pay our rent. In December of last year, I had repeatedly asked the Lord to incline the heart of this brother to give one hundred pounds. I made note of this prayer in my journal on December 12, 1835. On January 25, 1836, fifty pounds were promised by him, and on November 5, fifty pounds more were given. When I remembered that this prayer had been noted in my journal, I showed it to the donor. We rejoiced together-he to have been the instrument in giving, and I to have had the request granted.
November 30. On account of many pressing engagements, I have not prayed about the funds for some time. But being in great need, I was led to earnestly seek the Lord. In answer to this petition, a brother gave me ten pounds. He had it in his heart for several months to give this sum, but had been kept from it, not having the means. Now, in our time of great need, the Lord furnished him with the means, he used it to help us. In addition to this ten pounds, I received a letter with five pounds from a sister whom I never saw. She wrote, "It has been on my mind lately to send you some money, and I feel as if there must be some need. I, therefore, send you five pounds, all I have in the house at this moment."
December 15. This day was set apart for prayer and thanksgiving regarding the Infant Orphan House, which was opened on November 28. In the morning we had a prayer meeting. In the afternoon, besides prayer and thanksgiving, I addressed the 350 children of our day schools and the orphans. Donations of money, food, clothes, books, and coal were received during the year. Also, we received offers of. free medical care and supplies.
December 31. We had a prayer meeting to praise the Lord for His goodness during the past year and to ask Him to continue His favor toward us.
May 18; 1837. Sixty-four children now live in the two Orphan Houses. Two more are expected, and this will fill the two houses.
May 28. The narrative of some of the Lord's dealings with me is now ready to be published. I have asked the Lord to give me what is lacking of the one thousand pounds. In my own mind, the thing is as good as done, and I have repeatedly thanked God that He will surely give me every shilling of that sum. I earnestly desired that the book not leave the press until every shilling of that sum had been given in answer to prayer. Thus I might have the sweet privilege of bearing my testimony for God in this book.
June 15. I again prayed earnestly for the remainder of the thousand pounds. This evening, five pounds were given so that now the whole sum has been received. For the last eighteen months and ten days, I have brought this petition before God almost daily. From the moment I asked until the Lord granted it fully, I never doubted that He would give every shilling of that sum. Often I praised Him in the assurance that He would grant my request. When we pray, we must believe that we receive according to Mark 11:24, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
The Lord has listened to my prayers, and I believe He has given me a special gift of faith in His promises. An Orphan House for boys over seven years of age seems greatly needed in this city. Without it, we would not know how to provide for the little boys in the Infant Orphan House when they are older than seven years. Therefore, I plan to establish an Orphan House for about forty boys above seven years of age.
July 12. It is now three years and four months since Brother Craik and I began to spread the gospel through schools, circulate the Holy Scriptures, and aid missionaries. Since then we have distributed 4,030 copies of the Scriptures; four day schools for poor children have been established by us; 1,119 children have been instructed in the six day schools, and 353 children are now in those six day schools. Besides this, a Sunday school and an adult school have been supplied with all they needed. Missionary work in the East Indies, northern Canada, and Europe has been aided. In addition to this, the Word of God has been preached from house to house among the poor though the Scriptural Knowledge Institution.
August 15. The first edition of my book was published.
August 17. Two more children were received Into the Infant Orphan House. Sixty-six children live in the Girl's and Infant's Orphan Houses.
September 2. I have been looking for a house for the orphan boys these last three days. Everything else has been provided. In His own time, the Lord will give us a house also.
September 19. It was particularly impressed on my heart that I need more rest although the ministry may suffer. Arrangements should be made so that I may be able to visit the brethren more because an unvisited church will sooner or later become an unhealthy church. Pastors and fellow-laborers are greatly needed among us.
September 28. I have for a long time been too busy. Yesterday morning I spent about three hours in the vestry of Gideon chapel to rest and pray. I meant to do the same in the afternoon, but before I could leave the house, someone came to talk to me. One person after the other came until I had to leave. It has been the same again today.
October 16. For a long time Brother Craik and I have realized the importance of more pastoral visiting. One of our greatest trials is that we have been unable to give more time to it. This evening we had a meeting of the two churches. Brother Craik and I and another brother from Devonshire spoke on the importance of pastoral visiting, the obstacles which hindered us, and whether there was any way of removing some of the obstacles.
Pastoral visiting is important for many reasons. Watching over the saints can help prevent backsliding as we counsel them in family, business, and spiritual matters. We want to keep up a loving and familiar communion with the people.
The particular obstacles in our case are: The, large number of people who are in communion with us. One hundred would be the most we would have strength to visit regularly. But there are nearly four hundred in fellowship with us. The distance of the houses of the saints from our own homes. Many live more than two miles away.
The Lord's blessing on our labors. Not one year has passed since we have been in Bristol, without more than fifty being added to our number. Each of these people needed to be conversed with several times before being admitted into fellowship.
Brother Craik and I have the responsibility of two churches. At first glance, it appears as if the work is divided, but actually the double number of meetings means nearly double the work.
The care of a large body of believers takes much more time and requires much more strength than taking care of a small body of believers.
The position which we have in the church at large brings many brethren to us who travel through Bristol. They call on us or lodge with us, and we have to give them some of our time.
Extensive correspondence must be answered every day.
The physical weakness of both brother Craik and me is another hindrance. When the preaching is done; when strangers who lodge with us are gone; when the calls at our house are over; when the necessary letters, however briefly, are written; and when the church business is settled, our minds are often exhausted.
Even if we had strength remaining after we had taken care of all our other duties, our frame of mind is not always inclined toward visiting. After a trying day, one may be fit for the prayer closet, but not for visiting the saints.
Much of my time is taken up by the Orphan Houses, schools, circulation of the Scriptures, aiding missionary efforts, and other work connected with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution.
What is to be done under these circumstances? The Lord has not laid on us a burden which is too heavy, for He is not a hard Master. Perhaps He does not want us to attempt to visit all the saints as much as we believe is necessary.
We need other pastors; not nominal pastors, but those whom the Lord has called, and to whom He has given a pastor's heart and pastoral gifts. These men may be raised up by the Lord from our own number, or the Lord may send them from elsewhere.
In order that time may be saved, it appears wise that the two churches, Bethesda and Gideon, should be united into one and that the number of weekly meetings should be reduced.
October 21. Today the. Lord has given me a house for the Orphan Boys on the same street as the other two Orphan Houses.
December 31. In review of the year 1837, eighty-one children live in the three Orphan Houses, and nine workers care for them. Ninety people daily sit down to the table. Lord, look on the needs of Your servant!
The schools require even more help than before, particularly the Sunday school in which there are about 320 children. Lord, Your servant is a poor man, but I have trusted in You and made my boast in You before the sons of men. Do not let me fail in this work! Let it not be said all this was mere emotion and enthusiasm and will eventually come to nothing!