WORK IN ARKANSAS.
I left Chicago for Little Rock, August 12, 1891. It seemed to many presumptuous to go South at that season, but the promises of the 91st Psalm are mine. I attended the Arkansas Colored Baptist State Convention at Montacella. This meeting was a proof of the progress our dear people have made, but it is only the children of whom we will now speak. On Sabbath I said a few words on the Sabbath school lesson. Some of the children were in tears. Rev. E. C. Morris, the president of the convention, said, "Perhaps the children want to be saved to-day." Some said there was no time now, but he urged that I be allowed to give them a chance. Four little children rose with tears of conviction. A meeting was appointed for them at two p. m. of which I had charge. Before the hour arrived, the house was crowded with an audience mostly adults, and among them the preachers and the delegates. About fifty children occupied the front seats. I read John 5:14-15." As Moses lifted up the serpent so shall the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." After telling the story of the brazen serpent, I explained how my sins had been forgiven by looking unto Jesus and how God stood ready to save them that very minute. The little ones in tears gathered around me till the space in front of the pulpit was so crowded we could not kneel. We did not simply say prayers but we prayed. Some of the members of the convention whose hearts were full of love for the children followed me in prayer. When the children were seated, I asked, "Who believes that Jesus has pardoned their sins?" A little girl about ten years old immediately arose with tears of joy, saying, "My sins are all forgiven; I do love Jesus." Then she went around and shook hands with the older ones and told them her love and joy in Jesus, but her sweet, glad face told more than words. Five others followed her example. This custom in the South of the convert going around to get the right hand of fellowship from older members is very appropriate and beautiful. The children were between the ages of ten and thirteen. Before we dismissed, several of the most intelligent pastors in the state spoke words of encouragement to the children; for this I praise the Lord, because many of the colored people do not believe in immediate conversion. They think before he is forgiven, the sinner must spend long days in prayers and tears. Then there is a great number who do not believe in children's conversion. After dismission, two more of the children accepted Christ, and at the night meeting, these eight little ones were received into the church. I cannot tell you our great joy at this blessing just as we entered our new field of labor. God did it all. My words were so weak they could not have touched any heart but for God's great power. To Him be all the glory.
Miss Eva Button came to help me in October. She was greatly used in leading children to Christ and building them up in the faith.
Before she came I had begun children's meetings, holding them Saturdays, at two p. m. These were continued, without interruption, for a year, during which time one hundred and twenty-four children were born into the kingdom in that room. There was no special revival as we call it, but some were saved each Saturday but one during the year. This continued blessing was something new and kept up the interest. Most of these young converts united with churches of different denominations in the city, and as a general thing remained faithful. It was astonishing the number of Bible verses they repeated from memory in each meeting. To urge those I teach to hide God's Law in the heart has always been my plan. It does keep us from sinning, provided the word is impressed by the Holy Spirit.
As soon as I returned to Little Rock after the convention, God led us to a suitable house which we rented and in which we lived and opened our
TRAINING SCHOOL FOR MOTHERS.
Our Mothers' School in this place was a success. We held it in the forenoon five days in the week. Some of our day pupils walked two miles to attend and did their work in the afternoon saying they accomplished just as much as in a full day without our Bible lessons. They soon had a longing desire to tell others what they had learned and this led to
in the homes conducted by these women, under the guidance of Sister Button and myself. Much time was spent in trying to show them how to study the Bible lessons in HOPE, and in talks about proper training of children. Monday morning was given to a missionary meeting. I wish you could have seen the shining faces of those women as they reported their Christian work. Oh, there is a wonderful joy in being permitted to personally lead any soul from darkness into light. It is the cream of happiness which so many lose because they think they have "no time." This work of which I speak was mostly accomplished by using for God the every-day touch that all have with their neighbors. It turned idle gossip out-of-doors and brought Christ into their every-day life. This was not only the case in Little Rock, but in all my work all over the South; only, I had, perhaps, more women to help me from the beginning in Little Rock than elsewhere. It was because of the interest among the children, I think. "A little child shall lead them." Besides the number converted in our meetings, many were saved in the church services.
It was in Little Rock that our Sunshine Bands had their origin, at least, under that name.
Ellen Washington, one of my pupils, who lived on a back street, was sitting under a tree near her door, one afternoon, watching a crowd of playing children; some came nearer and she kindly welcomed them; others followed; then she talked and sang with them. They were so interested that she asked them to come again next day and she would tell them more. They were mostly children that did not attend Sunday school. When Sister Washington related this experience in the Training School next day, the Spirit said to me, "There is the plan by which we can reach the masses of neglected children. We cannot dress them up for the Sunday school or church, and parents do not care to send them, but every woman with a mother-heart can make a Sunday school room out of her own home. Glory, hallelujah! I have found the way to save the children and it will also help these mothers with their own children as they train their neighbor's children in the right path; for no mother must neglect her own family. Bad company does not lead us astray while we are seeking to reform them in the Gospel way, because we are always on the defensive. I hope my reader will take notice of this thought and practice it.
Mary O'Neal was the second woman to tell how she and her husband, who were good singers, were sitting on their gallery one Sunday evening, when they kindly called in the children who were playing on the street, and sang with them. Oh, how much sweeter and better this was than to scold them for breaking the Sabbath.
I have not time to tell you of the other noble women who, like Lydia, opened their homes as well as their hearts to the Lord's work. In these little meetings in the homes, children were often converted and united with the church. It is so much easier teaching children, dressed in their every-day garments in one's own home, than in the Sunday school, because too often the foolish Sunday dress hinders the Gospel from reaching the heart of the children, and the same is true with older people. Good Lord, deliver us from fashionable dress in Thy house! If our women spent the same time in secret prayer that they do in primping and crimping for church, they would carry a blessing with them, and come home ready to live the sermon and pass it on to their neighbors.
These mothers' and children's meetings in the homes continued to increase. Among the children converted in our home in Little Rock was Jimmy Washington, whose picture we give you. He had no mother. From the time he was three years old he led his blind father around the city to sell the brooms he made and in that way they earned a scanty living. Jimmy was only five when he was converted and quite small of his age. The day he went forward with others to join the church, the deacon said, sternly, "Go to your seat." "But," said Jimmy, "I am a Christian and must be baptized." "Child, you do not know what you are saying." Jimmy turned away in tears, saying, "Well, Sister Moore will let me join her church?" Yes, dear Jimmy, you and all the children that are old enough to confess their faith in Christ shall find a welcome to my heart and to my church (if I had one). The child held on to his faith and some years after united with the church and began to preach. For several years he wrote me often, but lately I have lost sight of him.
I find by my record that in 1892 we had ten Sunshine Bands, with an average attendance in all of about 150; and twelve mothers' meetings, averaging each week an attendance of about 80. Sister Button and I visited these meetings as often as possible, so as to help and encourage our dear women who were so anxious to be used of God. Little Rock is a small city, so by means of these meetings we reached a very large class of non-church goers. One time I rented a little house near the depot, and far from churches, where we held meetings among a very neglected class.
To provide for extra expenses in carrying on the work in Arkansas the Lord sent special gifts.
Dr. Wayland, while editor of the National Baptist, was interested in my work and put a little notice of it in his paper. Four persons read it and each sent $5 at the same time, also the following which explains itself.
"Dear Editor National Baptist:--Enclosed you will find $100 which I have saved through much sacrifice and self-denial. I saw in your paper a statement of Miss J. P. Moore's work in Little Rock, Ark. This is the Lord's money, therefore I wish to lay it on his altar. I earnestly prayed that the Lord would show me where it would accomplish the most good for him. As soon as I read your account I knew it was an answer to my prayer, and that that was the place for my money. I ask you to please forward this to Miss Moore. I earnestly and daily pray that she may succeed in her self-denying work. Forward it, and oblige one who wishes to invest in human souls."
This is. the letter; no name is given. It surely was handed me straight from the Lord Jesus. I seemed to feel the grasp of his hand as he lovingly said: "Use this for my honor and glory."
Is it any wonder that we fell on our knees in a thanksgiving prayer, and also prayed for wisdom to invest wisely the Lord's money. There is no doubt but that it is from the Lord. It is blessed by self-denial and prayer; yes, daily prayer follows it, and that prayer is a daily inspiration to me. O, how much more valuable is this money than money dragged from the pockets of the unconverted, or from luke-warm Christians through a supper, festival, "rally," or by any other of Satan's plans to desecrate the holy service of giving to God. This and other gifts were used for my pupils and to support these two young women; also for books and Bibles. Our Bible bands throughout the state created a great demand for the word of God.
Perhaps the holiest gifts I ever received were $250 from Sister Tobyne, of North Belvidere Baptist church (Ill.) and $50 from Sister Nellie Patrick, of Marengo, Ill. They were given on their death beds, with the earnest request that they be sent direct to me. I want also to mention with tender gratitude Sisters Mary Butcher and Emma Hansel, and her nephew, George Hansel, all of Philadelphia, Pa., and Mrs. J. D. Runyon and family, of Plainfield, N. J., because they have continued to send me little tokens of love for the last fifteen years. Some friends forget and leave us.
While in Little Rock, I had the efficient help of Emma Taylor, of Wayland University, Washington, D. C., and Jane Scruggs, of Southland College, Arkansas. I had visited these schools, telling of my work, and these two young women as soon as they graduated in June, 1892, came to help me, expecting no pay. Mrs. Scruggs was employed by the Women's Baptist Home Mission Society in November, 1892, and labored under its auspices until May, 1898. We held our school in the forenoon with an enrollment of about six boarders and thirty day pupils. The afternoon was given to visits in homes and in the meetings of which we have spoken. I wish our readers could have been present each Monday morning to have seen the shining faces and heard the reports of souls comforted, saved, through the Bible teaching communicated by these dear women to lonely hearts. We seldom could allow one to finish her story as there was so much to be told. No Christian can grow strong in the Lord except as he takes time to feed other hungry hearts. The work was very popular in Little Rock, with all denominations, and through the women who attended our school and our visits to associations and churches, it soon spread throughout the state.
At first we called our work "The Praying, Planning, Working Band," but afterward changed it to
THE FIRESIDE SCHOOL.
We also outlined the following course of study covering three years:
FIRST YEAR.--Bible, HOPE, "Peep of Day," and "Second Temperance Reader."
SECOND YEAR.--Bible, HOPE, "Line Upon Line," "For Mother While She Rocks the Cradle," "Third Temperance Reader."
THIRD YEAR.--Bible, HOPE, "Story of the Bible," "Kind and True," "Black Beauty."
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