Changing the World
By Steve Goodier
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," Hattie May Wiatt sobbed to the pastor
as he walked by. Dr. Russell H. Conwell, the church's pastor, took
her by the hand and found a place for her in the Sunday School class.
Some two years later, little Hattie May lay dead in one of the
poverty-stricken tenement buildings near the church. Her parents
called for church's pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to
handle the final arrangements. Hattie May's mother gave the pastor a
tiny purse her daughter had found in a trash can and kept under her
pillow. The purse contained 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish
handwriting. The note read, "This is to help build the little church
bigger so more children can go to Sunday school."
For two years she had saved pennies. Dr. Conwell took the purse and
coins into the pulpit and told of one little girl's dream to build a
A newspaper learned of the story and published it. Conwell told it
and retold it. Eventually, inspired by Mattie May's sacrifice, an
area resident offered him land at a reduced price. Church members
gave sacrificially and $250,000 was eventually raised for a new
church building, a large sum of money more than 100 years ago. Hattie
May's dream was coming true.
Temple Baptist Church in Philadelphia eventually grew to a large
church with a seating capacity of 3,300. Dr. Conwell also founded
Temple University in 1884 (first called Temple College), upon which
campus the church is still located. He and the church then built The
Samaritan Hospital (now University Hospital) -- to provide quality
medical care for those who lived in the neighborhood, such as Hattie
Joel Barker accurately says, "Vision without action is merely a
dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action
can change the world."
Hattie May had a vision and she acted. She worked hard to save 57
cents. A church had a vision and acted. Through hard work and
sacrifice, they made almost impossible dreams come true.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead sums it up like this: "Never doubt that
a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Publisher@LifeSupportSystem.com is a professional
speaker, consultant and author of numerous books. Visit his site for
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and Laughter at http://LifeSupportSystem.com.