From experience, you know God can work in miraculous ways. But even the mightiest of faith warriors may be a bit skeptical about how God could use a scrap of paper in the backyard of an Indiana home.
Harry Hartmann has dedicated his life to serving the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the publishing and pastoral ministries. He also is committed to keeping his yard clean. “I usually make it a practice to pick up little pieces of paper and trash in my yard when I get home,” Hartmann said.
One afternoon in April 2021, he noticed a ripped piece of paper lying in his backyard and went to pick it up. It was wet from a rainstorm the day before, but, upon closer inspection, he noticed that it was half of a US$50 bill.
“I went inside and showed it to my wife,” Hartmann said. “Both of us felt like we should do something more with this, if possible. Something more than just getting some [fast food].”
Hartmann had been reading “Asking to Give,” a chapter from Ellen White’s book Christ’s Object Lessons, and a particular quote came to mind: “Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give. The principle of Christ’s life must be the principle of our lives” (p. 142).
With this quote in mind, he prayed that God would help him find the other half of the $50 bill and, if He did, Harry would donate that money to National Camps for Blind Children, a program of Christian Record Services.
Hartmann has been a dedicated supporter of Christian Record Services ever since he spent a day at a blind camp and was impressed with how great the counselors were and how they helped the campers have fun each summer.
Over the next week, he talked to each of his neighbors to ask if they had lost any money. Nobody had. Then he found the other half of the $50 bill in his own yard — on the opposite side of the house from the original find.
True to his word, Hartmann took the two halves of the bill to the bank, deposited them, and wrote a check to Christian Record Services. He thought that might be the end of the story. But it was not — God had bigger plans.
Hartmann has been part of a prison ministry at Elkhart County Criminal Justice Complex for many years. One day, he talked with a group of prisoners and told them about finding the $50 bill. Curtis, an inmate, seemed to be paying close attention to the story and wanted to know more about Christian Record Services.
A short time later, Harry received an email from the county jail saying that Curtis wanted to donate $200 to blind camps. The next time he visited, Curtis verified that he wanted to help kids who are blind to have fun.
“It was a good story of how God works in mysterious ways,” Curtis said. “I love Harry, and I figured it would be a good way of using the money. For something good.”
Curtis did have some savings, but inmates need special permission to send those funds outside of the prison system. Thanks to a few prayers, he finally got the permission he needed and sent the $200 to Christian Record Services.
“I was reading this book that tells us that we should do our best to serve people,” Curtis said. “I like helping people and wanted to do something kind. I love to work for God through Christ and am just trying to do my part.”
It started with half of a soggy $50 bill in an Indiana, United States, backyard. Thanks to two men who listened when God gave them messages through their reading, it became a significant gift to help individuals who are blind to attend summer camps across the country.
Brian R. Carlson is digital media manager for Christian Record Services.