“Send Food to John”

Here’s an excerpt from this morning sermon at The Donelson Fellowship:

Up where New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut come together there’s a beautiful valley called Housatonic Valley, not far from Mount Washington. Years ago, a man named John Barry lived on that mountain, along with his wife. During the fall of 1874, he fell ill. When December came, he was too sick to work, and the early snows cut off the couple from the nearby villages. John and his wife had some salt pork, potatoes, sugar, flour, coffee, and tea, but their provisions ran out. They were old and sick and unable to hike through the snow to procure food. The day came when they had only a single day’s worth of food, and there was nothing to do except cry out to the Lord. And they did cry out to the Lord and beg Him for provisions and remind Him of His promises.

Meanwhile down at the foot of the mountain in the village of Sheffield, about ten miles away, lived a man known as Deacon Brown. He was fifty years old. He was a farmer by trade, and a dedicated Christian man. On the evening of December 15, 1874, Deacon Brown and his wife went to bed early and were sound asleep when suddenly the man woke up with a start.

“Who spoke?” he said. “Who’s there?”

“Why, there’s no one here but you and me,” said his wife. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I heard a voice,” said the deacon, “saying, ‘Send food to John.’”

“Nonsense,” said his wife. “Go to sleep. You have been dreaming.”

Deacon Brown went back to sleep, but the same thing happened again. He was awakened by a voice saying, “Send food to John.”

Then it happened a third time. This time the deacon was thoroughly awake and he roused his wife and he said, “Who do we know named John who needs food?”

After thinking a moment, she said, “No one I remember, unless it be John Barry, up on the mountain.”’

“That’s it,” said the deacon. “It must be that old John is sick and wanting food.”

He instantly got dressed, as did his wife. They awakened their nineteen-year-old son Willie. While Willie harnessed the horses, Deacon Brown and his wife packed up large baskets of food. They had a very early hot breakfast, and about five o’clock that morning as the darkness began to fade, Deacon Brown and Willie loaded up the wagon and started up the mountain. It took five hours, and they were wrapped in their coats and in blankets and in extra buffalo robes. The snow was still falling. But as Deacon Brown walked up to the front door of the cabin on the hillside, he heard voices from within. It was John Barry and his wife praying for food.

This story comes from an old book, Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer, complied by Sh. B. Shaw, published in 1893. I tell this story in my sermon, “Don’t Worry,” from Matthew 6.

I don’t know how it is; I can’t explain it; but somehow God’s people are never without the necessities of life. King David said as much in Psalm 37, when he wrote, “I once was young and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.”