Tag Archives: Church

What Can God Do With 57 Cents?

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True Story

by Author unknown

A sobbing 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 touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.

Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the 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 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 Realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered it 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 3,300 and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of Sunday scholars, 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. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russel H. Conwell, author of the book, “acres of Diamonds”—a true story. It goes to show you “What God CAN Do With 57 Cents.”

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A first-hand account of this story is in a sermon delivered December 1, 1912 by Russell H. Conwell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia.  Rev. Conwell said the little girl’s name was Hattie May Wiatt

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Passed Around By Man But Not Passed Over By God- Chapter 4

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At school I was to be rewarded for good conduct and good penmanship and Ms. Johnson had just placed more gadgets on the prize board. On that board was a gorgeous gold charm bracelet that I wanted so badly, but on this particular week I was not the only one to be rewarded. It was another female student and I who the teacher called to the front of the class to choose our prize. As I was reaching for that charm bracelet, this trick had the nerve to snatch it from the board.

Before I knew it, I was shouting in that girl’s face about my bracelet and how she’d better give it up or else. I was so outraged that I began crying. Ms. Johnson tried to reassure me and I can still see her giving that girl the look of disappointment, but I was still pissed. The teacher asked me to be a good sport and choose another gift. She pointed out a “pearl” necklace that I definitely did not want. I took those pearls and as I was walking back to my seat, I gave that girl the “I will see you at 3:15” look.

When school was over, I went into the basement at home and in a rage broke those pearls from the string and dropped them all on the laundry side of the basement floor. While I was in the sitting area of the other side of the basement, Rose came down to do some laundry and had not yet flicked on the light switch.

The next thing I heard was a loud bang and a whole lot of cuss words coming from Rose’s mouth. I got up to see what all the commotion was about and there laying on the floor was no other than Rose. She had slipped on those pearls! Before I knew it, I was laughing at her fat behind trying to get off that floor. She looked up at me, declaring she was going to get me for what I have done and she did. That beating, as I expected, was painful but it was well worth it that day.

Otherwise, like clockwork, I went from my bedroom to school to chores to the basement and then bed. That was my daily life in her house. Rose had me completely afraid of her. When my mother was able to call us on the phone, Rose would be on another phone listening in on our conversations to make sure I would not tell my mother about all the horrible things she was doing to Raffeal and me.

Ms. Irving would stop by for her monthly check-ups and would ask us how everything was going with the living arrangements. I would make sure Raffeal didn’t get a chance to say anything because he would have told the truth about everything and I did not want to make matters worse while living under Rose’s roof. So I lied with a smile on my face. The beatings that we sustained were not nearly half of the abuse we tolerated. This woman was more wicked than the wicked witch from Oz.

The woman who took joy from beating me was the same woman who went to church on Sundays. Yes, she went to church, but like my pastor says, “the devil goes to church too and his name was Rose.”

We never kept attending one church; it was always a different church. She was what you call a “church hopper” who just bounced from one church to another one. I am telling you, that woman would get up there at the altar and get the Holy Ghost, shouting, jumping and praising God. I think it was God, though there was no telling with her. How can you be a hell raiser through the week and a Christian on Sunday? I would just fall asleep and hope when I woke up that church and all her shenanigans would be over.

Then one day the senseless female went brand new on us. My brother and I were used to being able to eat at the wooden kitchen table but things changed when she splurged on a brand new glass dinette set. I must admit this table was stunning like a clear shining diamond and Rose made sure we were not eating at this new table.

When Rose called us to dinner, it was the worst thing ever — a plate of damn beans. I am sorry to sound all bourgeois, but I did not know about this so-called entrée until I started living in foster homes because Ms. Brown did not eat or like beans. Anyway, we tried to sit at that new table of hers and got a reality check very fast. She told us with a serious look on her face that we could not eat at her table. My brother and I looked at each other like what the hell is she talking about? So we asked, “Where we going to eat then?” She said, “Over there on the floor.”

Now let me give you a description of this area where she now wanted us to eat. There was a small step down from the kitchen that led either to the right and the back door or to the left and the bathroom. Right in the middle part of this area was the place where her big old dogs would eat their food. It looked like Rose had downgraded us from being humans to being her new pet puppies.

If you think this was bad, matters were made worse when she would deliberately have those dogs eat their meals at the same time we were eating our food. Many nights we did not get the chance to eat our food because the dogs would eat it and there were desperate times when we ate our food while the dogs were eating from our plates. Rose would just watch this madness happening as she sat at her beautiful table.
Passed Around By Man But Not Passed Over By God  Chontate Brown Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved.

Passed Around By Man But Not Passed Over By God- Cont.

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The police came and next thing we knew we were over at my aunt’s house, still trying to figure out what had happened between our parents. Clarence went to jail and I remember my mother had a red blister on her bottom lip from when she shot the weapon the first time.

The story later told to me by my mother is that she had stayed overnight at a girlfriend’s house, but never called to let my father know her whereabouts or what time she would be home. It was 8:00 in the morning when she got her behind back to the house and Clarence had been up worrying and drinking (a 12 pack of beer among other things). I must remind you he was 15 years older than my mother and you can say she was still young minded. He asked where she had been all night and when she tried to explain, he knocked her down and slapped her. Therefore, she planned how she was going to shoot him and how she was going to get away with shooting him.

The happy, good old days were over. My parents separated for the time being and Vivian was back to being a single mother caring for three children on her own. I believe I was in kindergarten by then. We moved to an apartment back on Sawyer Street and living in this apartment was no picnic in the park. The place was dark and gloomy. It seemed like the sun went on a long vacation. Our daddy Clarence was not in our presence anymore. When was he coming back? There were no more awesome toys for us to play with and nothing to sing or dance about anymore. Times got hard for our family. We went from eating eight course meals to just eating a plate of beans.

My mother cooked black-eyed peas for dinner one day with sliced luncheon meat. I got the picture that we were no longer living like the Jefferson’s, but I drew the line when it came to eating this meal. The devil was a liar. I was not eating those beans. They not only looked nasty, but they didn’t smell good either. My mother was mad and was threatening to beat my ass if I didn’t eat my food. Well, let me say that after sitting at the table not willing to eat that mess called dinner, I took my ass whooping like a champion.

Sadly, my mother was back on public assistance trying to make ends meet, but the ends were not meeting because our family was evicted from that apartment. My mother never told us about her financial situation or gave us notice that we might end up on the streets. The eviction people came and put the little stuff that we had right out on the sidewalk. I cannot imagine what was going through her mind while watching all this happening. She didn’t show any emotion or concern. She was not screaming or yelling at anyone, she just stood there quietly. She grabbed a few of our things and we walked up the street to one of her friend’s house.

The next thing we knew, we were staying at the Salvation Army. There we shared one room with two beds and one bathroom, with another family. The place was not as bad as it may sound. Hey, at least we were not on the streets or staying with anybody else. They fed us three meals a day and even had activities for us children. They contributed clothes and shoes to us, and though they were not new or what we were used to we did not complain since we did not have anything. Everyone seemed pleasant and welcomed us into the establishment. I learned that poor was not only for black folks because there were some white people living there too. I cannot say if I ever cried or questioned my mother about what was going on. My brothers and I were considered good children and we didn’t complain or throw tantrums because Ms. Brown was not someone on whose bad side you wanted to be. We were very obedient kids.

Regardless of what the circumstances may have been, Clarence and Vivian were outstanding parents.

During our stay at the Salvation Army we began to go to church. I remember I always sat in the front row, because they gave away old-fashioned dolls to the little girls. I believe I collected about three of these dolls. They were so dazzling with big Shirley Temple curls, pretty blue or brown eyes that blinked and very pretty dresses, too. I would sit them on top of the shelf in our room. Even as we lived at the Salvation Army, I did not have the sense of feeling poor or less fortunate.

After a season at the shelter, Vivian was able to obtain public assistance and our single mother moved us into the Stateway Gardens projects on the south side of Chicago. It was at this point in our lives that I remember everything going downhill.

Passed Around By Man But Not Passed Over By God  Chontate Brown Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved.