THE FIRESIDE SCHOOL--"HOPE"
This school includes all that the Women's Baptist Home Mission Society stands for, with the following additions: (1) A prepared Bible lesson for all the family to read together daily; (2) supplying the home with other appropriate books for parent and child to read together.
To accomplish the first object we required: (1) Someone to prepare these lessons; (2) a plan by which the paper would reach the subscribers in their own homes; (3) someone to teach those who could not read themselves.
The plan by which these needs were supplied: (1) I prepared a leaflet with Bible lessons for each month, and seventeen years ago began publishing HOPE, with daily Bible lessons.
(2) A plan by which the paper would reach the subscribers in their own homes was hard to devise and carry out. The people seldom had ready money, besides they did not see the good of a paper that only taught the Bible and emphasized "Be kind to your home folks," and did not give the general news of the day. HOPE was the first paper that many of our subscribers ever received. Many took it because they loved me. In some parts of the South it was very difficult for the colored people to get papers through the mail, the white people fearing that in these papers there might be some political scheme or something that might tend to upset the established plans of society. However, in answer to prayer and labor the dear little messenger has reached homes and hearts, it has reformed and converted human
lives, it has cheered and rested tired and discouraged mothers, it has taught children to respect and help their parents, it has taught young men and women to be true and faithful in their social life and to marry only in the Lord, it has rebuked without mercy the men and women who through lust or envy sought to separate man and wife, it has taught the Bible way of raising money for God's cause, it has educated married women who were sitting in hopeless ignorance till this dear teacher came, it has exalted the Lord Jesus who died to save us from sin, it has carried light and life and hope to every home where it has been read and obeyed.
(3) How to secure teachers. The year I spent on Island Number Ten I learned a lesson from a little colored girl nine years old. She did not seem brighter than the other children, yet she knew her lessons better. I called at the little cabin where three families lived. My little pupil introduced me to her mother, saying, "She can read better than I." "How can that be; she never was at school?" The mother answered, saying, "My little daughter teaches me every evening the lessons she learned from you at school." "There," I said, "I have the plan by which fathers and mothers may learn to read. If only parents will be patient and the children grateful and respectful."
Charles Foster, of Philadelphia, in some way heard of my work, and in 1883 donated me thirty copies of "First Steps." I gave them out to the boys and girls who would read them through with their parents. I was then at work in the country. It was a beautiful sight to see father and mother, one on each side of the child-teacher, listening eagerly to the explanation of the picture as the child read the story. Several of these parents learned to read. I can do more with country people than with those who live in the city. The country is God's plan for His children, the city is one of the inventions that man has sought out. In the city people rush and
crowd to get ahead of each other, and little time is left for soul culture. I thank God for Charles Foster's books. Since then he has moved to heaven, but his sons have often sent me books.
HOW"HOPE"GOT ITS NAME.
"Have faith in God." HOPE. "Love One Another."
On the left hand of HOPE is "Have faith in God," and on the right hand "Love one another." Our hope is supported by faith in God and love for humanity. But this only tells how HOPE is kept alive and fresh and not how it got its name.
I had been studying the condition of the colored people for twenty-two years, and all that time had been at work among them, and I asked myself, what do they need most of all? After careful thought and prayer I came to the conclusion that what they needed most was hopefulness, encouragement--some one to tell them that they had as much natural ability as any race, and all that they needed was patient, persevering effort to cultivate the talents that God had given them.
During the days of slavery they were discouraged and hopeless. Life looked dark. There was nothing to live for, and this old feeling still clings to them. I wanted to encourage them, I wanted to inspire them with hope and cheer them on. Therefore we called our paper HOPE, with the companion mottoes "Have faith in God" and "Love one another." Every month she flies over the land carrying HOPE and love to weary hearts. She sits down beside the wife and comforts her tired heart, and whispers in the husband's ear, saying, "Be of good cheer, my friend, your home may be as happy and bright as any in the land." Then she turns to the fireside with the little children and amuses and instructs them.
Knowledge, learning, culture, and moral worth
cannot be handed over to you, as we would hand you a bag of gold or a rich garment. You must earn them by your own personal effort, daily toil and midnight study. Deny yourself rich food and costly dress if you want these higher qualifications. You can't have both. This is why we say over and over again, It is all in your own hands. You will be just what you make yourselves. Every man and woman builds the steps by which he himself rises. Oh, I want you to be hopeful and brave and "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might"; and this is why we named our paper
"I have not seen--I may not see
My hopes for man take form in fact,
But God will give the victory
In due time--in that faith I act.
And he that sees the future sure
The baffling present may endure;
And bless meanwhile the unseen hand that leads
The heart's desires beyond the halting steps of deeds."
HOPE has never been in debt, and yet we never knew from one month to the other where the money would come from to pay for it. We have always donated a large number and the subscription price was very cheap. We never put in it any advertisements. When I began to edit the paper I received the questions that publishers are required to answer. One was about advertisements. I replied, "We advertise the House not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and the Book written by the Holy Spirit. This is all."
There is almost no reprint matter in HOPE. With the exception of an occasional poem or cut everything in each issue is new.
We began in 1885 with five hundred copies.
Six years after, in 1892, we printed five thousand copies. At the present date, 1902, we mail eleven thousand, for many of which we receive no pay. The reason HOPE has succeeded with such a poor editor and none of the modern attractions is that it has honored God's Word. The paper is full of Bible and testimonies of what the Bible has done for those who love and obey it. This paper started out to teach faith in God and love for one another. HOPE is the organ of the Fireside School. It is an interdenominational family magazine. Its object is to make home the best and happiest place in the world. This it hopes to accomplish by the daily prayerful study of God's Word, accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To help in publishing this paper God sent me the kindest printers found in that profession. It began its life in Plaquemine, La., in 1885, and moved to New Orleans in 1886, and in 1888 to Baton Rouge; in 1891 to Little Rock, Ark.; 1894 to Atlanta, Ga.; in 1895 to Nashville, Tenn., where it is now printed. From 1895 to 1901 the Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House did the work. They were extremely kind and printed many leaflets and books at a reduced price without solicitation, and everybody in that house had a kind word for Sister Moore and her work. During the whole six years in which they did my printing I never went there that I was not helped or comforted.
In 1901 it seemed best to give the printing to the National Baptist Publishing House in Nashville. There also I received nothing but kindness and words of encouragement. Before coming North last December I went there to say good-bye to Rev. R. H. Boyd and his wife, the proprietors. He stopped every workman and brought every employe, about sixty in number, into the double parlors
to hear my farewell words. This was a very unexpected honor.
During 1886 and 1887 I traveled over the state much of the time, and therefore found it difficult to address the wrappers and keep a correct list of subscribers. One day Mrs. Minnie Stockwell (white), a teacher in the public school in New Orleans, expressed a desire to help me in my work. It was a dangerous thing then, and still is, for any one to offer me assistance, because I am very sure to fill their hands with hard work. I told Mrs. Stockwell how difficult it was for me to keep the roll of subscribers and that I was not able to hire a secretary. She gladly took the responsibility, and for a year she and her mother and sister folded and mailed my paper, for which they received no earthly money. Their pay was all in heavenly currency. In 1888, after the paper was taken to Baton Rouge, we sadly needed a secretary. Then the Lord sent me from Franklin, Ind., Miss Lizzie Clark. She came to make me a visit, and during the three months she was with me, took the responsibility of writing wrappers and mailing the paper. But for her timely help I fear it would have gone under.
While in Little Rock, Ark., Miss Button helped with the mailing and in writing for children, and Brother and Sister Saxton came at night to assist. It seemed that everybody was glad to give us a lift. Since coming to Nashville I have had a secretary. The paper has scattered itself all over the Southern states in this way: Someone saw the paper in a friend's house, read it, and said, "This is a good paper. I'll see if I can get up a club." And so one and another collected the money and sent it to me without requiring any pay, and thus upon its own merits it has traveled, not only all over the Southland, but into the North, and even across the sea.
My first leaflet was written in 1874. Subject: "Rules of Politeness for Home and Church." A large number of copies of this leaflet were scattered. In 1876 I prepared, in the interest of the Sabbath school and temperance, a little book called "Helps," which contained a constitution for each organization and a selection of hymns and songs; also other useful items. This book was revised (in 1880) and the material supplemented by other missionaries of the Women's Baptist Home Mission Society. A still later revision was made by the Corresponding Secretary of the society in 1884. It has been in continuous use ever since the issue of the first edition.
In 1893 the report of the first mothers' conference and manual of the Fireside School were written, and four thousand copies printed. We expected to prepare only a very small pamphlet, but it grew and grew until it was a book, and we had just the same experience with the report of the "second mothers' conference" the next year.
In 1895 we printed a catalogue with the names of one thousand and twenty-one Fireside School families and many facts relating to the work and its progress. Of these three thousand copies were printed for gratuitous distribution.
In 1901 we had printed 6,000 copies of a similar catalogue, with the name and postoffice address of three thousand and six "Fireside School" families. The Fireside School includes the whole family.
"For Mother While She Rocks the Cradle" was written in 1894, while I was sojourning at Spelman Seminary.
"Kind and True, or Courtship and Marriage," made its appearance in 1895. We have sold or donated about twenty thousand of each of the last two books, in connection with the publishing of which Fleming Revell, of Chicago, has rendered valuable assistance.
In 1897 four thousand copies of a little work, "Power and Work of the Holy Spirit," were prepared, and nearly all were donated to pupils of the Fireside School.
Up to the present date, February, 1902, I have prepared and distributed about seventy different booklets and leaflets, varying in size from four to thirty-two pages, and ranging in the number printed from one thousand to five thousand. These leaflets were mainly distributed through letters. We found that the literature sent in that way was likely to be read, and the people needed special help in the training of children, plans of Christian work, the Gospel way of raising money for God's cause, economy, rules for home happiness, temperance, purity, etc. Nearly all of these have been donated. You wonder where we got the money. God sent it in answer to prayer.
To-day the burden of my prayer is for a supply of good books in every home and some one to teach ignorant mothers how to read them to their children, so that their children may acquire a taste for pure reading at the mother's knee.
The Reformed Reader Home Page
Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved