He was a talented musician and composer who was pursuing a professional career in music. That changed however, when he felt the call of God upon his life to preach the gospel in 1879. That was eighty-one years before I was born and yet the decisions this man made directly impacted my life and indeed the lives of my mother's family.
While pastoring a Seventh-Day Baptist Church in Dodge Center, MN, Herman D. Clarke became very interested in the work of The Children's Aid Society of New York and what became known as The Orphan Trains. In 1900 he became an agent, bringing children from New York City to the midwestern United States.
In 1909, he made the journey from New York City to central Iowa. A woman in her 40's named Julia, met the train that day. She had seen an advertisement that he would be coming that day with children who needed homes. Unmarried and without any children, Julia decided that she would like to adopt a little boy.
There were two little boys to choose from that day. One boy was named George and he was five years old. Uncertain as to which boy she should choose, Julia asked Reverend Clarke which boy he thought would be best for her to take. Without hesitation, he pointed to George. I am glad he did for you see, George later met Julia's niece who moved to the United States from Canada in 1924. They fell in love, got married and had eight children. My mother was child number six.
However, there is more to this story. Julia's family did not attend church much but one of the criteria for adopting George was that she would agree to take him to church regularly and so she did. Eventually, the rest of her family did as well but there is more.
Herman Clarke took his charge very seriously. He had placed these children but he wanted to make sure they were happy and well-cared for. He paid unexpected regular visits to all of the homes to ensure that the children were safe and happy and he did not hesitate to remove them immediately from the premises if he deemed that all was not well.
In addition to their physical and mental well-being, he was very concerned about their spiritual well-being also. He considered these children to be a part of his "flock" and kept up correspondence with them until his death at the age of 78 on December 25, 1928. My family still has a few copies of his letters. In addition to the letters, he prayed for these children, their families and their descendents daily. It was his greatest desire to have these children and their families come to know Jesus Christ.
George died of a heart attack at the age of 58. It was right before my second birthday so I have no memory of him. It is unknown whether or not, in his last moments he turned to Christ but what we do know is that one of my aunts had been in fervent prayer for him around the estimated time of his death.
What I do know is George's wife and her four sisters came to Christ. One of those sisters was a missionary. One became the wife of a pastor and all of them became very active in their own personal ministries. Out of eight children, George had one son who became an evangelist and two daughters who became Christian teachers and have taught abroad on short mission trips as well. One of them, my mother, also ran a children's Bible club on an Indian Reservation for nearly 15 years. Three other children are active in their churches as well. George has a grandson who is a pastor as well as a number of grandchildren who are active in teaching and working within their local churches as well as serving God in other capacities and the legacy continues with George's great-grandchildren.
This is what happens when we are obedient to God. The things which we do just don't impact the here and now; they have an impact on future generations whether we ever realize it or not. I am very thankful that more than a century ago a man said... "Yes!"
Will we do the same?
I was intrigued by the title ([b]On And On And On It Goes[/b]) and content of your blog because of how well it goes along with today's Bible verse.
[quote][b]Daily Bible Verse: Jun 11 2013 05:40:12pm - Tammuz 3, 5773[/b]
Joel 1:3 - Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (New International Version 1984) [/quote]
[quote]The things which we do just don't impact the here and now; they have an impact on future generations whether we ever realize it or not. I am very thankful that more than a century ago a man said... "Yes!"[/quote]
This is an amazing story, one that needs to be passed on to as many as possible! I've gained much from reading it. We never know the number of lives God can, and will, reach if "Yes" is our answer to His plan for our lives.
[quote]This is what happens when we are obedient to God. The things which we do just don't impact the here and now; they have an impact on future generations whether we ever realize it or not[/quote]
This is so true as I have links back to a great reformation preacher and founder.