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Summary: The historic lessons built around Temple Baptist Church in Philadelphia & some Biblical comparisons using the Ant.

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57 Cents

In the inner city of Philadelphia, around the turn of the 20th Century, a little girl wearing dirty street-wise clothes was noticeably upset as she ran away from church that morning. As she was stopped by the pastor, he asked her why she was running from the place of worship. While fighting through tears, she explained to him that she tried to enter, but was told that “there was no place for a girl like her.”

The pastor calmed her, and walked her back to church with him and found a good place for her to be part of the family and how to worship the Lord. Sadly though, this girl’s days on Earth were already numbered for a few years later she died of an illness at a young age. The girl’s mom called the church, and asked for help in funeral planning and sought some consultation. Obliging, Pastor Russell Conwell went over to the house to help gather some things, and noticed a torn purse owned by the deceased. He peaked in to find an offering envelope containing 57 cents and hard to read note stating, “this offering is for the new building, so no little girl like me will ever be turned away again.”

Emotionally charged, the pastor returned to his congregation, waited for the right moment, and then dedicated the small amount of change to a building program that would change lives around the world forever. He said that there is no way over his dead body that he would refuse the final wish of a deceased little girl.

Though specifics are fuzzy for the lack of details, money poured in. Press grabbed a hold of the story and people living in the city of Brotherly Love gave generously. One legend even has it that there was a wealthy Christian who was led to donate 1000 acres of land for exactly 57 cents, and supposedly the man had not even heard of the story before his donation.

Today, Temple Baptist Church in urban Philly houses a giant worship center capable of housing over 3000 people per service. Moreover, Good Samaritan Hospital will save 100,000s of lives this year, and Temple University continues to keep her strong Christian foundation to this day. All this began from the giving spirit of a little girl. To say that the life of Hattie Mae Wiett had an impact in this world would be an understatement. She gave to the Lord.

But how about us? Putting the issue of money aside, do we give to the Lord? Matthew 25:42 points out that many do not give when the Good Book states, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”

The life of Hattie makes us ask ourselves a difficult question today. Is Christ in my life to give to me, or am I in Christ to give back to Him? Hopefully, if we give of ourselves sacrificially to Christ, we will never be forced to answer the tough questions as indicated in Matthew. And someday, for those of us who know the Lord, we will officially be able to thank Hattie for her generous gift.


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