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Dear Princess, Number 9 (Spring 1999) | Timeless Truths Publications

Stiches ’N’ Stories for Little Sisters (And Not So Little Ones!)

Sarah’s Shilling

Jennifer Quackenbush

Illustrated by Jessica Lee Dorfsmith

Bristol, England. February 8, 1842. Based on a true story.

“Eat every crumb of your bread, Sarah,” said Frances. “We won’t have any tomorrow.

“What do you mean?” Sarah asked, looking around at the long tables filled with orphans eating their lunch.

“I heard Mr. Muller talking to the other leaders here. He told them all to pray because there is only enough food for today; there’s none for tomorrow. And we are almost out of coal to keep us warm.”

“Surely God will answer our prayers,” Sarah said, but felt a bit doubtful.

Frances shook her head. “Then where is the money we need?” she said scornfully. Sarah felt fear making a cold knot in her stomach. No food at all! Would all of the orphans go hungry?

After lunch, Sarah was sent to take a message over to the Infant Orphan House. She thought about Frances’ words. Frances was twelve, older than eight-year-old Sarah, and she usually knew everything about what was going on. Would there be no food at all tomorrow? Would they have to beg people in the streets for their food, as many of them had done before coming to Mr. Muller’s orphan houses?

As she shuffled along the roadside, Sarah’s eyes caught sight of something shiny. A shilling! Quickly, she picked it up and slipped it into her pocket. There was no way of finding out whose it was, so it was lawfully hers. Sarah did not have any other money, and she was glad to have found a shilling. She wouldn’t have to go hungry tomorrow! When she arrived back at the Girls’ House, Sarah saw a lovely carriage out front. A lady was removing huge cakes from the back. She smiled at Sarah. “Here,” she said, handing one tray to Sarah, “will you carry this inside for me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Sarah replied. “What is it?”

“Just a little treat for all of you—plum cake.”

Sarah beamed with delight. Plum cake! Surely there would be enough for one meal tomorrow.

That evening as the head matron led evening prayer time, Sarah fingered the shilling in her pocket. She wondered how much bread it could buy. Suddenly, her ears caught some of the matron’s words: “There are millions of boys and girls just like you in China who have never heard the gospel. We need to pray with all our hearts that missionaries will get the money they need to go to China and tell them about Jesus.”

Sarah’s hand tightened around her little shilling. She had a sudden idea of what she could do with it, but she didn’t like the idea. “I need this shilling for when we have no more food!” she thought.

After prayers, all of the orphans went to get ready for bed. Sarah was the last one to start upstairs. She was standing on the bottom step, thinking hard about the heathen children in China, when a friendly voice startled her.

“Is something wrong, child?” It was Mr. Muller! Sarah felt a little bit afraid. He was an important man: the pastor of the church, and the head of all the orphan houses.

“No sir, I only was wondering—is it true that we’ve no more money to buy food or coal?”

He nodded. “Yes,” he said. “It is true.” He did not look even a tiny bit worried.

“What will happen to us?” Sarah asked.

“God will provide for us. Remember, the Bible tells us that God who feeds the birds of the air, and clothes the lilies of the field will also take care of us, ‘for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.’* (Matthew 6:32) We are told to seek His kingdom, and to not worry about tomorrow.”

“But… will He really… do it?” she stammered.

Mr. Muller smiled. “He has to! He cannot break His Word! And not once during the seven years of these orphan houses has anyone ever gone hungry!”

Sarah was quiet. “Thank you, Mr. Muller,” she said at last. “Would you send this to help the children in China hear about Jesus?” She handed him her shilling. He took it and nodded solemnly. “That I will do.”

With a light heart, Sarah ran up to bed. That night she could hardly sleep from excitement. She could not wait to see how God would answer their prayers and bring them food tomorrow. The next morning she sang as she dressed. Frances looked at her puzzled.

“What are you so happy about?” she asked sourly.

“God is going to give us our food today,” Sarah replied cheerfully.

Frances shook her head. “I don’t think we’re going to have anything but a slice of plum cake all day,” she growled.

Just as Sarah was coming downstairs for morning prayers, the doorbell rang. She watched as the matron opened it. A man stood on the threshold with his hat in his hands.

“Good morning, ma’am,” he said, shifting back and forth nervously. “I—this may be a bit strange, but I was on my way to work this morning when I began to think about the orphans, and I thought that the Lord wanted me to give some money for them. I didn’t mean to come till this evening, but I felt I ought to come now. Here’s three sovereigns; hope you can use them.”

Sarah was so excited she didn’t even hear what the matron answered. Three whole sovereigns! Enough for bread and milk all day! She ran back upstairs to tell Frances. When she heard the news, her mouth dropped open in astonishment.

“I don’t believe it,” Frances said.

“See for yourself, then, when there’s plenty to eat!” Sarah replied. She wondered why she had ever doubted that God would meet their needs. She hadn’t needed her shilling after all—but she hoped God would use it to answer someone else’s prayers!

“Freely ye have received, freely give.”* (Matthew 10:8)