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William Quarrier Of Glasgow

For twenty-five years it has been with me a continual answer to prayer.
The first seven of my service were spent in caring for the rough boys of
the streets of Glasgow, but having made a vow, when I was very young,
that if God prospered me I should build houses for orphans, I was not
satisfied with that work among the bigger boys. Being in business,
however, and having a family to maintain, the question of whether I
could do more was a difficult one. I was giving eight hours a day to the
work, and in the Shoe-black Brigade, the Parcels Brigade, and the
Newspaper Brigade had probably about three hundred boys to care for.

While I considered what could be done, a lady from London--Miss
Macpherson--called, and in the course of our talk about the little ones,
she urged that I should attempt something more than I was doing. For
three months I prayed to God for guidance, and in the end resolved that
if He sent me L2000, I should embark in the greater work. Nobody knew of
that resolution; it was a matter between God and myself. If God wanted
me to do more work than I was doing, I felt that He would send me the
L2000, not in portions, but in a solid sum. I was then before the
public, and I wrote a letter to the newspapers pleading that something
more should be done for street children, pointing out that the Poorhouse
and the Reformatory were not the best means of helping child-life, and
urging that something on the Home or Family system was desirable. There
was a strong conviction that God would answer the prayer, and, the
terms of the prayer being explicit, I believed the answer would be as
unmistakable. After waiting thirteen days the answer came. Amongst my
other letters was one from a Scotch friend in London, to the effect that
the writer would, to the extent of L2000, provide me with money to buy
or rent a house for orphan children. When I received that call I felt
that my family interests and my business interests should be second, and
that God's work among the children should be first.

To a business man, it was a call to surrender what you would call
business tact. I had to rise up there and then, and proclaim in the
midst of the commercial city of Glasgow, that from that moment I was to
live by faith, and depend on God for money, wisdom and strength. From
that time forward I would ask no man for money, but trust God for
everything. That L2000 was the first direct answer to prayer for money.
He gave me the utmost of my asking, and I felt that I would need to give
Him the utmost of the power I pledged.

We rented a common workshop in Renfrew Lane--it was very difficult to
get a suitable place--to lodge the children in, and that little place
was the first National Home for Orphans in Scotland, and from it has
sprung what the visitor may see to-day amongst the Renfrewshire hills.
One day, I remember, two boys came in, and we had everything to clothe
them with except a jacket for one of them. The matron, a very godly
woman, said, "We must just pray that God will send what is needed," and
we prayed that He would. That night a large parcel of clothing came from
Dumbarton, and in it was a jacket that fitted the boy as if it had been
made for him. That was a small thing, of course, but if you don't see
God in the gift of a pair of stockings you won't see Him in a gift of

We had thirty children in that Home, and we kept praying that the Lord
would open a place for us somewhere in the country. A friend called on
me and offered to sub-let Cessnock House, with three acres of ground
about it. Cessnock Dock has now absorbed the place, and as it was just
the very spot we wanted, we accepted. We had room for a hundred boys,
and with the help of God we prospered. We had resolved formerly that we
would send children to Canada, but it took L10 per head to send them,
and we were determined not to get into debt. We had only a few pounds in
hand when we took the house in Govan Road, and it took L200 to alter it.
But every night we prayed that the Lord would send money to pay for the
alterations. Sums varying from 5s. to L5 came in, but when the bills
came to be paid we were short L100. A friend not far from one of my
places of business sent for me, and when I called, he said, "How are you
getting on at Cessnock?" I said we were getting on nicely, and that we
had got L100 towards the alterations. He gave me L100, to my
astonishment, for I knew that he could not afford so much, but he said a
relative who died in England had left him a fortune, and the money was
to help me in the work God had given me to do. In that answer you see
how God works mysteriously to accomplish His purpose and help those who
put their trust in Him.

God gives us great help in dealing with the wayward, wilful boys of the
Home. They are generally lads who have known no control; but we are
able, with God's blessing on our efforts, to get them to do almost
anything that is wanted, without strap or confinement or threat. To hear
boys who used to curse and swear praying to God, and to see them helping
other boys in the Home, is to me the most encouraging feature of the
work God has given me to do. Whilst I sought to clothe and educate them,
I left God to deal with them in their spirits; and to-day the result of
the spiritual work amongst the boys and girls of Glasgow exceeds
anything I ever expected.

I still thought of the emigration scheme, and in 1872 we had sixty
children that were able to go to Canada. Of course it meant L600 to send
them, and we had the necessary money except L70 in the end of June. We
prayed on that God would send the balance before the day of sailing, 2nd
July. A friend called at one of my places of business to see me, and
subsequently I had an interview with him. He gave me L50, and said it
was from one who did not wish the name mentioned. "What shall I put it
to?" I asked. "Anything you like," he said. "We are short of L70 for the
emigration of our first band of children to Canada, and if you like I
shall put it to that." "Do so," he said; and as the man left I saw God's
hand in the gift that had been made. When I went home that night I found
amongst my letters one in which was enclosed L10 "to take a child to
Canada," and the post on the following morning brought two five-pound
notes from other friends, making up exactly at the moment it was needed
the sum I had asked God to give.

In addition to the Homes, we carried on mission work amongst the lapsed
masses, and, as in the case of the Homes, we were firmly resolved to do
everything by prayer and supplication. I rented an old church at the
head of the Little Dovehill, just where the Board school stands now, as
a hall, but we did not have the whole of it. At the level of the gallery
another floor had been introduced, and while we occupied the upper flat,
a soap manufacturer occupied the lower. In a way it was a trial of faith
to go up those stairs past the soap work into our hall. We wanted to
open the place free of debt, and the money for the alterations came in
gradually. I remember putting it to the Lord to send a suitable
evangelist if He wished the work to go on. At that time--twenty-four
years ago--we heard a lot of Joshua Poole and his wife, who were having
great blessing in London, and I thought that they were just the people
to reach the working classes. But as I had convictions about women
preaching,--which, by the way, I have not now,--I asked the Lord to send
L50 to cover the expense for a month if it were His will that these
friends should come to Glasgow and preach nightly during that period. I
left it to God to decide whether we should ask these friends or not, and
I had the assurance--the assurance of faith,--that the money would
come. When I went home that night I found that a friend had called at
one of my places of business and left fifty one-pound notes without
knowing my mind and without knowing I needed it.

After that I felt that God was going to work a great work amongst the
lapsed masses of Glasgow, and He did so. For six months we rented the
Scotia Music Hall on Sabbath evenings, and instead of a month the
evangelists were six in the city conducting services every night. When
they left, ten thousand people gathered on the Green to bid them
farewell. Hundreds were led to the Saviour.

After a number of years' work in Glasgow with the Girls' Home, in Govan
with the Boys' Home, and with the Mission premises, the need of a farm
became great. I prayed for money to purchase a farm of about fifty
acres, three miles or so from Glasgow. It was to have a burn running
through it, good drainage, and everything necessary. I was anxious to
get this burn for the children to paddle in and fish in; but I feel now
that at the time I was rebellious against God in fixing the site so
near Glasgow. We visited a dozen places, but the cost was so great that
I was fairly beaten. God had shut up every door.

A friend met me on the street, and asked if I had seen the farm in
Kilmalcolm Parish that was to be sold. I replied that I had not, and
that I considered the place too far away. In talking over the matter, he
persuaded me to go and see the farm, and when I did go, and, standing
where our big central building is now, saw that it had everything I
prayed for,--perfect drainage, and not only the burn, but a river and a
large flat field for a recreation ground,--I said in my heart to the
Lord: "This will do." Ever since I have blessed the Lord for that; my
way was not God's way, and so He shut us in amongst these Renfrewshire
hills, away from the ways of men.

After paying L3,560 for the farm, we had about L1,500 left, and in 1887
we began to build a church and school, to cost L5,000. I told the
contractor that we should stop if the money did not come in; but it
kept coming in, and the work went on. In 1888 I had resolved to go to
Canada with the party of children going out that year, and I saw clearly
that I would need to stop the contractors if I got no more money in the
interval, for I was still L1400 short. Yet I believed the Lord would
send the money before I left in the latter end of May, though the time I
write of was as far on as the middle of the month. I kept praying, and
the assurance was strong that the money would come. Just three days
before the date on which I was to sail, a friend came to me, and said it
had been laid upon his heart to build one of the cottages at
Bridge-of-Weir, but the Lord, he thought, would accept the money for the
central building just as much as though it were put into houses, and he
handed me L1300.

All the money belonging to the Homes and all my own was in the City of
Glasgow Bank when it failed, and hundreds of the givers were involved as
well. On my way up from the Homes on the day of the disaster, a
gentleman met me, and told me the sad news. At the moment I realised
what the news meant for me--my own personal loss and the needs of the
Homes--for that was in September, and our financial year closed in
October. With all our money locked up, to clear the year without debt
would be difficult, but then the promise of God came: "Although the
fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the
labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the
flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the
stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my

There and then I prayed that God would help me through, and that during
the course of the following year, which I saw would be one of financial
distress all over Scotland, He would double the gifts to us. The result
was that we were able to clear our financial accounts with ease at the
end of October, and in the year following, when every church in
Scotland, and every philanthropic work had less money than they needed,
the Orphan Homes had double what they required. In that God honoured my

Our first church at Bridge-of-Weir only held four hundred, and by-and-by
it was too small for us. I prayed that the Lord would give us a new
church to hold one thousand people, and to cost something like L5000. We
felt that we would get that money, and that we would get it in one sum
because we had asked God to lay it on the heart of somebody to build the
church. After a year of waiting and praying, a friend came to me in the
street one day, and said, "I'm going to build you that church you want.
Do you know what it will cost?" "Yes," I replied. "L5000" "Well," said
my friend, "you shall get the money when you want it."

It was a new song of praise to God that day, I can tell you, and we went
on to build our church. Now, even it we find too small, and we are
praying to the Lord for L2500 to enlarge the building, and enable us to
accommodate five hundred more worshippers.

I thought that, having got the church, we might, as we were building a
tower to hold the tank for our water supply, also get a clock and chimes
to enliven the village. So we prayed that the Lord would send money for
that purpose. I thought that about L500 or L600 would be sufficient.
While the building was going on, we prayed for the money, and I was
certain it would come. The architect was hurrying me and pointing out
that if the clock and bells were really to go into the tower, the work
must be done at once. I told him there was no fear that the money would
not come. If the money had not come, and the tower was completed, the
placing of the clock and bells at a later period would have mean
practically taking down and rebuilding, because with our water tank in
position, the work would have been impossible. My architect kept
bothering me, but I was sure the money would come, and one night I went
home and found a cheque for L200--L1500 to build a house, and L500 for
the clock and bells. The clock and bells cost L800, and the lady who
sent the money paid the additional L300.

A village like our Homes, with 1200 of a population, needed a good water
supply for sanitary purposes. For a very long time we depended on a
well, and stored the water in tanks, but frequently the supply fell
short, and we felt that if we could get the proprietors in the upper
district--none of the surrounding proprietors, by the way, had ever
taken much interest in the work of the Homes--to give us the privilege
of bringing water into the grounds, we should be able to do much to
improve that state of matters. Sir Michael Shaw Stewart gave us the
right to use our own burn higher up for the purpose, and gave us a piece
of ground at a nominal rent of 12s. a year, for a reservoir and filter,
but the money to carry out the work was not in hand, and we prayed to
the Lord to send us from L1200 to L1400, which we anticipated would be
the cost of the undertaking.

Some time later a lady called at James Morrison Street (Glasgow), and
left word that an old woman who lived in Main Street, Gorbals, wished to
see me. On the following day I called at the address given, and found
the person who had sent for me. She was an old woman living in a single
apartment, and she was very ill and weak. "Are you Mr. Quarrier?" she
asked. I said I was. "Ye were once puir yersel'," she went on; "I was
once a puir girl with naebody to care for me, and was in service when I
was eleven years old. I have been thankful for a' the kindness that has
been shown me in my life."

She went to a chest of drawers in the corner of the apartment, and after
a little came and gave me two deposit receipts on the Savings Bank, each
for L200 and on neither of which any interest had been drawn for twenty
years. When I cashed them I received L627.

I said "Janet"--Janet Stewart was her name--"are you not giving me too
much?" "Na, na, I've plenty mair, an' ye'll get it a' when I dee."

We did the best we could for Janet, but she did not live much longer.
Within a week I received a telegram that Janet was dead, and she had
died, I was told, singing "Just as I am without one plea."

In her will she left several sums to neighbours who had been kind to her
in life, and to our Homes was bequeathed the balance. Altogether the
Orphans' share was L1400. The money defrayed the cost of our water
scheme, and I always think how appropriate the gift was, for nearly all
her life Janet had been a washerwoman and had earned her bread over the

The direct answers to prayers of which I could tell you would fill a
volume, and what I have mentioned are only those fixed in my memory. I
have always asked God for a definite gift for a definite purpose, and
God has always given it to me. The value of the buildings at
Bridge-of-Weir is L200,000, and since we started, the cost of their
"upkeep" has been L150,000. And we are still building as busily as in
the beginning.

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