Generous Giving Towards Missions

William Stevenson

Before his own paper was established, Harms put a brief report of his proceedings in two of the country newspapers. The unlikelihood of that report reaching far is self-evident, but almost simultaneously contributions came from New Orleans, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Odessa, and Narva. Harms has no doubt how they came. God put it into men's hearts. This is a cardinal point of his faith. "It is wonderful when one has nothing, and 10,000 crowns are laid in his hand by the dear Lord. I know from whom it all comes. When I remarked to my brother that he was such a master in the art of taking, I thought within myself, Let him take, thou wilt receive. And I went to my God, and prayed diligently to Him, and received what I needed." When the printing-shop was debated there was no money to bear the expense. "I can assure you," says Harms, "that to the question, Shall we print? we did not answer, Certainly we can; but we cried to the Lord, Grant it to us. And He granted it, for we immediately received 2000 crowns, although the thought had not been made known to any one; we had only to take and be thankful." "A short time ago I had to pay a merchant in behalf of the missions 550 crowns, and when the day was near I had only 400. Then I prayed to the Lord Jesus that He would provide me with the deficiency. On the day before, three letters were brought, one from Schwerin with 20, one from Bücksburg with 25, and one from Berlin with 100 crowns. The donors were anonymous. On the evening of the same day, a labourer brought me 10 crowns, so that I had not only enough, but five over." "I must tell you what brought the tears into my eyes, and confirmed me anew in that word, Before they call I will answer. A medicine chest was urgently wanted for the mission. I reckoned up to see if there was enough left to supply it. Before I had finished, and when I had not yet well begun to commend this matter to the Lord, a letter was brought, in which the anonymous writer stated that for some time he had been collecting for the mission, and had determined to purchase a medicine chest. The chest accompanied the letter; he only begged it might soon be sent out for the heathen." When the Refuge was projected, the great obstacle was want of money. After prayer, a pious farmer met him and asked him to mention any way in which he could assist the work, "I took it as a sign from the Lord, and mentioned to him what was in my heart. He sent me, through his wife, who was of one mind with him, 500 crowns. Immediately after a merchant sent me 10, a pastor 100, and then came anonymously 100 crowns. Meanwhile I had not made my intention known." "The year before," he wrote in 1858, "I needed for the mission 15,000 crowns, and the Lord gave me that and 60 over. This year I needed double, and the Lord has given me double and 140 over."

I have placed these extracts loosely together because they shew with great clearness what Mr. Harms believes about his missions, and to what he attributes their success. There is nothing he insists upon with greater earnestness than that, be the expenses what they may, let them increase ever so suddenly, he has never begged. There is nothing he has more delight in telling than that he has prayed for every want, or that without special prayer he has received in reply to his life of faith alone. The difficulties that lay in the way are conceivable enough. He has displayed remarkable firmness and wisdom in removing them. Are firmness and wisdom sufficient to account for it? Have they helped others who possessed and used them to anything like the same results? His mission agency has flourished beyond all precedent. Does it account for that to say that he has a remarkable personality; that he has the power of attracting people to his views, of drawing them in to work out his plans; that he has a congregation filled with the primitive zeal? Does not every one feel that these are no more than auxiliaries, that of themselves they are not explanatory? Are we not driven to one of two solutions, either that Mr. Harms is right, that God has guided him throughout, that it has been a continuous answer to prayer; or that he has been thoroughly deceived, that it is a series of curious coincidences which may at any time be broken, that the appearance of an order and law in it are delusive, that it has been only ten years of happy mistake! These conclusions may be left to the careful thought of those who interest themselves in the subject.