"Money Came In as the Building Went Up"

"Money Came In as the Building Went Up"

Few years ago J. Lee Neil visited the Fuller Memorial Sanitarium, and during the course of conversation he told the management of his method of erecting buildings with the help of interested friends frequently not of our faith.

LAURENCE A. SENSEMAN, M.D., Medical Director, Fuller Memorial Sanitarium

Few years ago J. Lee Neil visited the Fuller Memorial Sanitarium, and during the course of conversation he told the management of his method of erecting buildings with the help of interested friends frequently not of our faith. It seemed rather unique to us. He calls this the "prayer-and-perspiration" method. He pointed out to us that the Bible states that a blessing is received by the donor when a gift is given to a worthy cause (Mal. 3:10; Isa. 58; 60:10; Phil. 4:19).

The businessmen whom he contacted were given the privilege to test this plan. He told how it had helped others, and how it would help the individual, and many who were prompted to give assistance became very much interested in the project. In fact, Elder Neil carried a prospectus around showing the gifts that had been received, and pointed out what others were contributing to the project.

We at the Fuller Memorial Sanitarium started out with a modest plan to build a four-room Cape Cod cottage for our night super­visor. Our plan was to put up this building with as little capital as possible. Our chaplain, Frank Cummings, who has had considerable building experience, was in charge of the proj­ect. We decided to ask the "sons of strangers" (Isa. 60:10) to help us, and so businesses in the vicinity were solicited. One company dug our foundation free of charge; also the con­crete was poured at little or no cost. A thou­sand feet of lumber was donated by a local company. A hardware store manager, a patient with us at the time, donated all the hardware for the building. Other supplies donated were nails, insulation, side and roof shingles, rock lathe, and paint. Former patients and friends were given an opportunity to donate money also. This money came in as the building went up. Our largest donation of one thousand dol­lars came from a woman, and the Lynch Cot­tage has been named in her honor. Thus a ten-thousand-dollar cottage was erected at a saving of several thousand dollars.

We Needed $1,500—The Lord Sent $1,800

Our second attempt was more ambitious. We had a great need at the sanitarium for a recreation building, where patients could exer­cise and take part in programs and games dur­ing the long winter months. Funds from the operating would not be available for many years, as we have no surplus or capital funds to use. It was again decided to launch out by faith. Our business manager, George Gohde, stated that the building would go up only as the funds and materials were available. This building was begun in the spring of 1952, with three hundred dollars in cash on hand.

Plans for a cinder-block building, 30 by 60 feet were called for. Mr. Gohde supervised the entire structure, and our own men did most of the work. When it came time for the roof, we had exhausted our funds. At a staff dinner meeting we asked our business manager for an estimate of the cost of a stress roof, which was needed for this type of building. He told us that one thousand five hundred dollars would be sufficient. Where would we get this money? We all bowed our heads in prayer and asked the Lord to guide us in seeking help.

The following day our chaplain approached a former patient of means, and she gave him a gift of five hundred dollars. A few days later a patient came to my office, and to my amaze­ment laid fifteen twenty-dollar bills on my desk, asking that the money be used for mental health, as she was grateful for what had been done for her. I could think of no better way than to add it to our building fund for the new roof.

About this time we had a wealthy patient under our care at the sanitarium. He seemed to appreciate the fact that we treated him as we did all other patients. In fact, we insisted that he refrain from tipping, as he was accustomed to doing in other hospitals. When the day of his discharge arrived, he and his wife were in my office. Their remarks were complimentary, and they expressed sincere ap­preciation for the care and service they had received. Suddenly I remembered our roof and the additional seven hundred we needed for its completion.

"Would you like to express your apprecia­tion in a substantial and lasting way?" I inquired. They nodded their heads in agreement.

Then I told them our problem about the new roof, our faith in its ultimate completion, and the blessings one would receive by giving. I told them not to make a decision at that mo­ment, but after thinking it over, if they felt in their hearts that they could assist us, it would be greatly appreciated by everyone and that much good would come as a result.

The following week my friend called on the telephone and said, "I have been thinking about our conversation of last week, and my wife and I have decided to give your institution one thousand dollars in stock in my new company. At the present time it is only worth twenty-three dollars, but by the first of August —one month from then—I will pay you one thousand dollars for it."

This was the answer to prayer: eighteen hundred dollars, and we had asked only for fifteen hundred dollars. On August 1, I received the following letter:


Per our conversation, I am enclosing your check for one thousand dollars as an outright donation to your kind institution. I hope and pray that as time passes on we may be able to add further to your fund. With kindest regards, I am as ever_____ "

The next step was to put in the lighting fixtures and the heating system. This would cost approximately eight hundred dollars. This seemed to be an easy hurdle, as it took only one question to the right person, and one thousand dollars was our answer. By fall our building was nearly completed, but not the stucco on the outside nor a suitable floor cover­ing.

I was asked by the president of our confer­ence to speak at a workers' meeting. At that time the president asked me to repeat the story I have just related, which I had previously told to him. It seemed to strike a responsive chord, because two days later I received a check from the conference for two hundred dollars—the price of the tile for our floor covering—and this without even asking!

Shortly after this, one of our staff doctors came into my office quite elated. He stated that the husband of one of our patients had just asked him if we planned to stucco the new building (he was a stucco mason and not work­ing at the time), because he would do the job at no charge to us if we would pay for the materials. This, too, seemed like an answer to prayer, and thus our building was completed. It could not be duplicated at this time for under fifteen thousand dollars. It was built at a cost of about two thirds its normal value. Total cash and materials received for the two build­ings: $12,634.

Surely this plan has merit, if properly ap­plied through the exercise of simple faith and the carrying out of benevolent deeds and the relieving of the distress of the suffering. It has given us a great deal of satisfaction at the sanitarium to have had this experience and to realize that whatsoever we ask in faith, believ­ing, we shall receive.

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LAURENCE A. SENSEMAN, M.D., Medical Director, Fuller Memorial Sanitarium

July 1955

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