1916 • The Congregational Christmas Offering Committee.
This short story was published as a paper pamphlet and came with a beautiful full-color, fold-out, die-cut bank. This is an unusual example of Grace's work used to promote a missionary campaign. The bank was to be filled with a Christmas Offering. We're happy that someone kept the bank as a keepsake, but hope they turned in their offering, too.
The text inside the front cover of the pamphlet tells about the campaign:
The Six Congregational Missionary Societies have united in a campaign to secure a free-will offering from the Christian Church during the coming Christmas season. Christmas Gift Boxes, artistically lithographed in colors and gold, will be provided for family gifts.
During the weeks immediately preceding Christmas, as presents are being purchased for friends and relatives, this Christmas box, having been placed in the home, will be a reminder of the debt of gratitude owed to the truest and best of Friends, and the question will come,
"What offering can we make that will be most pleasing to Him who gave Himself for a lost world?"
The hearty, personal co-operation of all members of Congregational Churches will guarantee a missionary gift that will greatly honor Him who said: "As my Father hath sent me into the world even so send I you into the world."
The booklet tells the tale of Gordon Pierce, a young man who stepped into a church to get out of the storm and found himself in the midst of a missionary meeting.
He was greatly moved, especially by the hymn: "I gave my life for thee, My precious blood I shed
That thou might'st ransomed be and quickened from the dead.
I gave my life for thee, What hast thou given for me?"
Later at home, he begins to open the packages he'd bought that day.
"He sat down bewildered, and all the pretty prideful gifts he had arrayed stared back reproachfully at him. He sat ashamed before the pictured Christ...a chair on the other side of the room also [was] piled high with packages.
That great pile! And fifty cents in the collection basket the only thing he had shown as a Christmas gift ·to the Saviour of the world—his Saviour, for so in his heart he counted Christ."
What Gordon does with "that pile" follows. The final paragraph says it all.
Reverently he bowed his head as he realized that even then all gifts of his would never requite the great gift God had given to him that night.
The message printed on the Christmas Boxes:
A CHRISTMAS OFFERING TO CHRIST
It is estimated that the people of Christian lands spend no less than one hundred million dollars annually for Christmas gifts to one another. Other estimates place the sum at three hundred million or more.
A number of the leading Missionary Boards believing that it would be pleasing to Him whose birth at Christmas time we celebrate, have asked their friends to unite in making a CHRISTMAS OFFERING TO CHRIST, this offering to be used in the proclamation of His Gospel on Mission fields.
Such money as may be deposited in this box during the Christmas shopping season or on Christmas morning should be forwarded to the Congregational Christmas Offering Committee, New York City.
The Forgotten Friend also appeared in short story collections in later years, including "Miss Lavinia's Call" (1949, J.B. Lippincott) and a paperback short story collection called "The Forgotten Friend" (Tyndale House, 1994 • ISBN 0-8423-1391-5)