Loughborough’s Last Three Cents

“John”

Mary Loughborough’s quiet voice drew her husband’s attention to herself. “We are out of matches,” she told him “and I need some thread as well”

John Loughborough looked at his wife for a long moment before feeling in his pockets. Mary waited, looking at him expectantly for an answer. Finally, after some fumbling, John produced a small three-cent piece, which he held up for his wife to see.

“Mary,” he said frankly, “this is all the money I have left” he paused watching the blood drain from Mary’s face as her mind processed his words.

Sighing he continued “You can get one cent’s worth of matches and a skein of thread and bring me back one cent. I don’t want to be entirely out of money”

Mary’s lips began to tremble. “What are we going to do?” she asked anxiously. John watched her face carefully as he framed his reply. “Well, I am going to preach and trust that the Lord will open the way for us as he promised in the vision last Sabbath”

Mary remembered the vision. She swallowed hard, fighting back the tears that were pricking the back of her eyes.

Mary remembered the vision but it offered her little comfort at this moment in time. The only thing she could focus on was the three cent piece lying on the table between herself and John.

That is all they had left.

No more money.

No. More. Money.

Standing up abruptly she rushed out of the room. Reality had just become too much to bear.

I Will Go

As he watched Mary’s retreating figure, John’s mind reached back and sifted through the events that had led them to this place.

Soon after becoming a Sabbatarian Adventist John Loughborough had been strongly impressed that God was calling him to preach the messages that had transformed his life.

He hesitated.

The church wasn’t organized, the members were scattered, the work was hard, traveling was grueling and time-consuming, he had a wife to support.

The list was long and every item on it was valid. But his mental list of pros and cons didn’t take away the calling on his heart.

God was calling him to preach.

But preachers only got paid in potatoes and ham.

God was calling him to preach.

But there was no money in preaching.

God was calling him to preach.

But he had a wife to support.

Finally, after going back and forth in his mind, John decided to take a pragmatic approach. He decided that he would work hard and build up a nice little nest egg of savings which he and his wife could dip into while he spent time preaching.

So John went into business selling sash locks. But the harder he worked the more his business seemed to fail and the more he scrimped and saved the less money he seemed to have.

He began to feel like he was stuck deep in the mud, spinning his wheels in a mad attempt to extricate himself but with no success.

Finally Ellen White spoke to him in Rochester, New York. Her words were simple and to the point. “Brother Loughborough is holding back from his duty to preach the message, trying to get means for his support. The Lord told me to say “Decide to preach the message, and the Lord will open the way for your family’s support”

That night John Loughborough went home and surrendered himself to God.

“I will go” he promised “and trust you to open the way for my support”

When he made that promise to God he had only three cents in his pocket and no idea where any more money would come from but he was at peace.

Providence

John’s mind snapped back to the present as he heard the front door open and shut, signaling that Mary had left to buy the matches and thread. He sat still for a few minutes longer, deep in thought until he heard a knock at the door.

When he opened it he was greeted by a strange man who ordered $60 worth of sash locks. Dumbfounded John took the man’s order and then hurried down to the factory to pick up the merchandise he needed to fill it.

The profits from the sale would provide the Loughborough’s with enough money to see them through for quite some time.

When Mary returned home with her change of one cent, John told her what had happened and she burst into tears again. It was a turning point in their lives and also in John’s ministry.

Faith is as faith does.

When the Children of Israel stood on the banks for the Jordan River with the promised land before them, they faced a test of their faith. The Jordan was overflowing its banks and crossing it in that condition was dangerous but God has asked them to go forward in faith.

So they did.

And when the feet of the priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant dipped into the rushing tide of the river, the Jordan parted before them and the entire congregation passed over on dry land.

Their faith gave them the opportunity to experience a miracle of God’s providence.

For John and Mary Loughborough stepping out in faith to answer God’s call was an opportunity for them to experience a miracle of God’s providence. A miracle they would never have experienced otherwise.

Every trial of our faith is an opportunity to experience a miracle and yet so often we hesitate; nervous and afraid. The truth is you will never see the waters part until you step into the rushing tide.

So stop hesitating and step out.

Further Reading

  • Spirit of Prophecy Treasure Chest (1960) – Published by The Prophetic Guidance School of The Voice of Prophecy.
  • Loughborough, J.N. (1905) – The Great Second Advent Movement 
  • Loughborough, J.N. – Miracles In My Life  
  • Strayer, B. E. (2013)  – J.N. Loughborough: The Last Of The Adventist Pioneers