57 cents + God = a majority!
Let me introduce you to Hattie May Wiatt, a little girl who made a big difference with just 57 cents. A first-hand account of Wiatt’s contribution to God, community, and others was told in a sermon delivered Dec. 1, 1912 by Russell H. Conwell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa.
A 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 happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.
Pastor Conwell recalled the little girls name was Hattie May Wiatt. She lived near the church where the Sunday school was very crowded. He told her one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend Sunday school who wanted to.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her 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 red 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.
But the story does not end there…
A newspaper learned of the story and published it. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands.
When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.
Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide.
Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00–a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.
When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 4,600. And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.
Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday school building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built 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.
Hattie May’s burden began to spread throughout the church. Some of the members of the church formed what they called the Wiatt Mite Society. The society was dedicated to making Hattie May’s 57 cents grow as much as possible.
A nearby house was purchased with the $250 that Hattie May’s 57 cents had produced, and the rest is history. The first classes of Temple College – later Temple University – were held in that house. It later was sold to allow Temple College to move and grow. This, along with the Society’s founding of the Good Samaritan Hospital (now the Temple University Hospital) are significant testimony to the power of a very small amount of money with a very large share of commitment.
This is a true story, which goes to show WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH 57 CENTS.
No start is too small with God. He started with a baby. Even if you can only do a small thing, do it! Maybe all you can save each month is pennies; do it. Maybe you may have to take a small job; do it. Maybe you can volunteer one day a month; do it. You see, your 57 cents just may make history, too…
Authors: Unknown (but edited by Richard Bejah)
“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.” ~ Mother Theresa