What A Crippled Girl Did For Christ
( Originally Published 1902 )
IN reading the notice of a Mary Ashton memorial service in the State Street Methodist Church of Trenton, N. J., I addressed a letter to the pastor, Rev. Frank P. Parkin, D.D., requesting some particulars of the occasion, or of the life of the one in whose memory the meeting was held. He sent me a leaflet of his, which had been printed in the interest of the missionary society, from which I quote : " Mary Ashton was born at Frenchtown and died at her mother's summer home at Ocean Grove, N. J., August 22, 1899. When a young girl she was converted during camp meeting week, in Dr. Ward's tent, at Ocean Grove, and on her return to Trenton united with the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church of that city. It was in the class meeting that she received her first great impulse to give her life in behalf of foreign missions. A few years later she offered herself to the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, for the work in China. After a careful examination the committee was compelled to decline her services, on account of her growing deafness and a predisposition to consumption. In 1885 she met with a terrible accident, by falling through an open hatchway in her father's store. She sustained a fracture of the left thigh, which left her a cripple for life, and compelled her to walk with a cane. One afternoon, after reading that there were 1,500 counties in China without a single missionary, she prayed, ` O Lord, send me ! ' Her call to work for China intensified until 1888, when, kneeling at her bedside, there came the thought: ` If you cannot go yourself, why not support a Bible woman there in your place?' The idea took lodgment, and she decided to interest fifty friends in the work, asking each to give two cents a week for the support of a Bible woman in China. About six months after-ward, she undertook, by the same plan, the support of a Bible woman in India. In less than a year from that time, while leading a young people's service in her own church, on Easter night, she resolved to do greater things for the cause of missions. She bought large quantities of paper, ribbons, and other materials, at wholesale rates, and made them up into booklets, star-books, bird-books, etc. Her greatest source of income came from the ribbon bookmarks, which she fringed herself, and had printed on them choice hymns or poems, or scripture passages. These she disposed of in large quantities in all parts of the country. She devoted her entire time to the work. She denied herself every luxury, and her own weekly allowance, given by a fond father, she placed in her missionary treasury. When pressed with orders she frequently worked eighteen hours a day. On more than one occasion members of her family would discover her delicate fingers to be bleeding, from the task of using the fine twine; but no per-suasion could induce her to abandon her labor of love.
As her income increased she added to the number of missionaries, until, in 1896, she made by the labor of her own hands $1,56o. With this amount she supported Miss Clara Collier and Miss Helen R. Galloway in West China; Miss Allie Linam in Foo-chow ; Miss Lizzie V. Tyron in India, and two Bible women —a. total of six.
During the ten painful years in which Mary Ashton, the deaf lame girl, was fading away with consumption, she earned, by the work of her own hands, $12,500-every dollar of which she contributed to the support of missionary workers, under the direction of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The enterprise of this poor sufferer was so extensive that many orders for articles came in after her death, and the year following her pastor re-ported to the Annual Conference nearly a thousand dollars as the Mary Ashton contribution to the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. The beautiful work this heroine began is to be continued by Miss Theodosia Haine, of West Farmington, Ohio, who has for years been a cripple from hip disease, and who is unable to walk.
Where there is a will there is a way. Where there is intense love obstacles must give way. Where there is an overmastering longing for souls, misfortune may be turned into fortune, and disabilities may be transmuted by divine alchemy into abilities. True royalty consist not in wearing crowns, but in bearing burdens and in saving souls.