Louise Shepard’s Gift of Jewelry



A surge of missionary interest in response to prayer began at the Methodist campgrounds in Round Lake, New York, in July 1891. At a morning Bible study, the speaker read the Lord’s last words concerning world evangelism. He concluded by saying, “How simple and practicable it would be to send the gospel to every creature in the next 10 years.”

Almost everyone present pledged to unite in prayer and effort to win the world for Christ. Several offered themselves as missionaries, and one minister brought his young girl to the altar, dedicating her to the Lord for future missionary work.

In attendance was Louise Shepard. The former socialite had recently become a believer and according to her own testimony was saved “out of worldly pleasures and amusements.” That morning she was stirred for foreign-mission work.

Louise Shepard’s Gift of Jewelry
Louise Shepherd (center) was managing editor for the Christian Alliance Publishing Company and taught at the Missionary College. (Photo courtesy of the C&MA Archives)

Several speakers briefly presented the needs of various mission fields. Louise rose, offering jewels she had put aside since her conversion. She estimated their worth to be $250 and challenged “who would add an equal amount so that together they might support one missionary for a year?”

An extraordinary scene then began. One after another began to take off brooches, rings, watches, chains, and other precious heirlooms. Others placed money on the altar, until the total value rose to $1,000, sufficient to sustain two missionaries for one year.

That afternoon a woman added enough to support a third missionary, and a little later money was given for a fourth worker.

The enthusiastic giving evident at Round Lake would become one of the standard but always exciting features of Dr. A. B. Simpson’s conventions. But the gold and jewelry offerings left Simpson uneasy. It gave the newspapers a field day in their constant search to sensationalize events in his conventions.

The idea of offering valuable jewelry, sometimes precious family heirlooms, for missions fit nicely with their most familiar charge of mass hypnosis. The media accused Simpson of casting a spell on his audiences so that people would give impulsively and without even being aware of what they were doing.

Since Simpson wanted no taint of discredit attached to The Alliance, if it could be avoided—especially in the sensitive area of finance—he quietly discouraged this practice. In some cases he had jewelry returned to owners whose spouses or friends had become angry over the donation. The practice gradually died out, and with it, the adverse publicity.

—Adapted from All for Jesus. The Christian and Missionary Alliance, 2013.

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