A Newsboy’s Wonderful Christmas Visitor
By Emma Booth- Tucker
The writer of this story was the second daughter of General William Booth, the Founder of the Salvation Army. She was tragically killed in a railway accident in October, 1903, when she seemed to be at the height of her spiritual power and influence and was in charge of the Salvation Army’s work in the U.S.A.
It Was Christmas Eve. The big city hummed with the rush and racket of the busy season. The densely crowded stores were crammed to the overflowing: the piled dispatch wagons (this was before the day of Automobiles) bespoke of the approaching festivity, one of which pitilessly – its driver being drunk – passed over the limbs of a shrilled-toned newsboy, who was absorbed with the rest, in making the most of business when business was comparatively easy to be done. He did not see the horses till too late.
One of the lad’s pals enlisted the assistance of a policeman in securing an ambulance, and Jim was carried away, while his papers with his cap, lay in confusion with mud and mire.
Two small cots, occupied by two little lads of about the same age, stood side by side in the formidable-looking ward of the city hospital. The doctors had made their last call for the night; the wounds of the sufferers had been dressed, and those whose affliction allowed of it, slept, dreaming, perchance, of Christmas under brighter circumstances.
But among those who still tossed in weary wakefulness was our little friend Jim. The doctors had eased much of his pain, but despite their efforts, the dressing had been a terrible ordeal for a nine-year-old lad, and now that the restraint of the doctor’s presence was gone, he was weeping it out, while little muffled groans every now and then accompanied his tears.
The lad in the next cot was much about the same in years, but very different from the sturdy Jim. Bill’s lot had been to suffer from an incurable complaint for five weary years. But the time had not seemed so long, because – to put it as he expressed it, “Somebody is allus turnin’ up who needs a bit of a lift, and though it’s little enough as I can do, somehow God lets me help ’em some,”
Bill’s experienced eye had read in the doctor’s face that Jim’s was a serious case, and when the lights were lowered and all was quiet. Bill’s tender little heart seized the opportunity of expressing his sympathy.
“Jim,” whispered the little lad,” did yer ever ‘ear tell o’ Jesus?”
“No,” answered his suffering comrade. “Who is ‘E?” ”’E’s awful nice, an’ ‘E don’t let boys be ‘ungry if ‘E can ‘elp it an’ ‘E stops ’em as is cryin’, an’ ‘E’s kind o’ extry good to them what’s got pain and things ‘ard to bear I wish you knowed ‘Im, Jim.”
“E’s not the sort as ud take notice of the likes o’ me-big gentlemen like ‘Im is most too busy, I guess.” “oh, but,” continued Bill, “‘E’s sort of special fond of us as is down on our luck, Jim. Once on a time, all the raggedest set livin’ was found at ‘Is place, and the little uns fairly ‘angin’ round ‘Is neck, and climbin’ all about ‘1m as though ‘E was their father only a better sort, I guess. ‘E spent most of ‘Is time ‘unting to find that was lost, and liftin’ folk what got tumbled down, and findin’s a place for them as ‘ad sort o’ lost their way-and ‘E was awful good to those who was sick and couldn’t get into hospital. ‘E made the fellers as was blind since they was babies see, and even ‘ealed those as had broken ‘earts.”
Bill’s graphic account told with such stirring faith helped Jim, and his next query had a ring of hope about it.
“You see, I couldn’t go to ‘Im. Both legs is broke, and I can’t move, Bill: the doctor’s sort o’ tied me up.”
“Oh, but,” answered Bill reassuringly, “that don’t matter one little bit. ‘E allus comes along where folk want ‘Im. ‘E’ll pass right ‘ere, sure, ‘specially bein’ as it’s Christmas, An’ if you ‘old yer ‘and up to sort o’ show you want ‘Im, ‘E’ll stop right at yer bed an’ ‘elp yer – ‘E will sure.”
Jim wanted help, in all the big city he knew no soul able and willing to help him, He was an orphan and had fared for himself for as long as he could remember. He had held his own among other newsboys, and there were many among the city gentlemen who looked kindly at him and patronized his trade.
But this was a terrible calamity that had befallen him. His stock-in-trade was surely nothing if it ceased to consist of his legs and lungs, and both seemed in pretty bad shape just now. Then he was wondering what had be· come of the pile of coppers that had filled his pockets when the accident occurred, and what had become of the unsold papers. His fevered brain travelled round and round the dismal prospect of starting again in life, a cripple.
Jim was certainly in a bad way, and it was in abject misery that he first contemplated the love and pity of the ONE mighty to save.
Bill’s suggestion that he should lift his hand so that as the good Gentleman passed down the ward, his need would not be overlooked, it seemed to him excellent and he made desperate efforts to get the little feverish arm up into a position of prominence, but each time it seemed that the elbow gave way. “Can’t do it,” groaned Jim, “makes me legs worse to ‘old it up.”
A new thought struck Bill here, and he said with eagerness, “I don’t want me piller; I think I can make it as it will jus’ ‘old yer ‘and up fine,”
Lovingly, tenderly the arm of the little sufferer was propped with the pillow-support, sacrificed by the other boy, who, all unconsciously, became a co-worker with the Christ of Christmas in the mission of helping others.
“‘Ow does it look, Bill?” asked Jim in nervous anxiety as to the result of their combined effort.
“Helegant,” answered Bill. “‘E’ll see it, sure.”
When the Christmas morning sunshine broke in upon the hospital ward, its soft rays lingered upon the still raised marble-like hand of Jim, whose spirit had taken its flight, but the eloquent signal remained to speak its lesson. Jesus had marked the hand lifted for Him, and had carried the child into that world where tears and pain and poverty are no more,
In this story there lies a sublime lesson – a Christmas call to us all. And this kindly spirit is the meaning of Christmas. Christ could have saved Himself without saving the world. But it was to save others that He came to earth, first in the form of a little child, and then as a toiling, suffering, and dying Man. He saw us, like Bill saw Jim, in the darkness and pain, the hopelessness and helplessness of a malady that none other save His hand could heal. He came after us, that we might not only by His atonement and love and suffering, be saved ourselves, but that inspired by His example, and possessed of His Spirit, we might follow Him in winning others.
“God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Acts 17:30: Romans 10:13.
If you do not know Jesus personally as your Savior, pray to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and save you now. He will save you just as He did Jim and then you can help lead others to Jesus as Bill did Jim.
This article “A Newsboy’s Wonderful Christmas Visitor” by Emma Booth-Tucker was excerpted from Pilgrim Tract Society.