A LESSON IN GIVING TO GOD.
I taught schools in Little Rock and I was delighted with the aptness and ability of the pupils. We had no writing desks, but I had the pupils get down on their knees and utilize the seat for a desk, putting the other books on the floor. We kept things in order and made many good writers. We had school at night for older pupils. All were more eager to learn, it seems to me, than they are now. I did not find as many white negroes in Arkansas as in Louisiana and other states, yet they were all shades from real black to nearly white. To my night school came a fine looking young woman who was certainly white. I wanted her to go to a white school, but she said, "No, I'm colored." I said, "No, you are white." She said, "Mother says I'm colored and there is no use in my trying to be white." Alas, I soon learned the debasing influence of slavery and heard tales too sad to repeat, therefore I buried them out of sight; but when I hear white men and women talk sneeringly of the impurity of the colored race, as though they were worse than all races, my blood boils with holy indignation, for I know the black man is not any more impure than his white brother, and perhaps less guilty.
The Friends who always followed in the wake of the war ready to bind up wounds and comfort the dying, came also to Little Rock, to care for the neglected children. I had charge of the asylum here for several months while the superintendent went home. This made me very happy. I taught the children as I have everywhere, about the heathen, who had never heard the name of Jesus; no, not always, for I did not always know the story myself. The children of the asylum got but little money, not a cent was spent till we prayed over it. I'll tell you about one of our boys. We will call him Tom, but I am not sure that was his name. His uncle made him a visit, Tom blacked his boots and for that received a nickel. Childlike, he ran to me, saying, "Let me go and buy some candy." I said, "No, wait until after prayers to-night." He objected, but I was firm. All the children knew about Tom's nickel. I called him up at prayers. There were about sixty little ones. How I did love them. This nickel was the first subject as it was on our hearts. "Tom, let me see your nickel." He handed it to me. I asked, "Does this money all belong to you?" "Oh, yes," was his reply. "How did it get to be yours?" "I blacked uncle's boots, and he gave me the nickel." I asked the children if they thought the money all belonged to Tom. Some said that I ought to have a part. "No, no, it doesn't belong to me." I then asked, "Those who think all this money belongs to Tom, hold up your hands." All hands went up. Then I gave Tom the nickel, saying, "I want you to answer another question, 'How did you black the boots?'" He went through the motion of blacking. I took hold of his arm asking, "Is this arm strong enough to black boots?" "Oh, yes," he said. "Well who made this arm strong enough to black uncle's boots?" He did not answer. I asked the children. They said, "God made it strong." Then I said to Tom, "Do you believe it was God made your arm strong enough to black boots?" "Yes," he nodded. "Now don't you think you ought to say, "God and Tom blacked uncle's boots, and if God helped, don't you think He ought to have part of the money?" He nodded his head. All the children were greatly interested. There was no disorder. I asked their opinion on the subject. All were agreed that God should have part. Now the next question is, "How much should Tom give God? God is here, He's listening. We'll ask Him in prayer. Then we all knelt, and I think they all prayed the best they knew how. We had a specific object for prayer. Our prayers are usually too general to get a direct answer. When we rose from our knees all were very quiet. I looked at Tom and asked earnestly, "My dear boy, what did God tell you ?" He stretched out his little hand and with a voice trembling with tears, yet with a happy look on his face, said decidedly, "God may have it all." Then my tears came as I put my arms around the dear child, saying, "God doesn't want it all, we will wait till morning for you to decide." I could see that those children got a clearer idea of God's ownership than most adults have, judging from their gifts. After a little hymn the children were dismissed. I followed them to their rooms and saw them safely tucked away for the night. The next morning at prayers, Tom told us all that he would give God three cents and keep two for candy. We cheered Tom for his generosity in giving God the largest share and I bought him two cents' worth of candy. The other boys gathered around him and all got a little as far as it would go. Tom had learned the joy of giving and couldn't stop. I'm sorry to tell you that all our children were not as good as Tom. Some stoutly objected to giving any of their money, saying "they needed it all." And yet we got seventy-five cents in those three months. It was used to get Bibles for a mission in Arabia. The Friends got the money and they were supporting the school. It has been the burden of my prayers and my lessons for many years that parents would teach their children to give to God as soon as they teach them to pray to God. One service is just as holy and as necessary as the other. Teach also that they must give what is their very own, but do not send them out to beg from others or you will take the blessing out of the gift.
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