Posted By: Volunteer
Date: 9/7/2017 at 18:32:23
AUNT FANNY DEAN
"She hath done what she could"
It is a pleasant thing in this busy, strenuous, self-seeking age to meet one who reveals a patient, happy, joyous unselfish spirit, who "Though herself not unacquaint with care Hath in her heart wide room for all, and whose every look The greatness of her woman's soul revealing, Unto us bringeth blessing and a feeling as when we read in God's own holy book."
Such is the impression which Aunt Fanny Dean makes upon every one with whom she comes in contact, but no one would be more surprised at hearing this than Aunt Fanny herself, for so modest and unassuming is she that like Moses of old she wist not that her face shone.
It is a blessed experience to be able to hear her tell how God has led her and how she has received such conceptions of her duty and privilege in His service.
Aunt Fanny is now seventy-six years of age and although not strong and much crippled with rheumatism has for the last twelve years supported a Bible woman in India out of her own earnings; wages made by the hardest kind of labor; for the first six years washing and house cleaning at ten cents an hour, and the last six years working in a hotel at two dollars a week, and yet every year giving twenty-five dollars to support this Bible woman and an equal amount to the Home Mission Society, beside something to other benevolences.
She had always been interested in missions and had contributed to the cause for years, but it was not until she was past sixty that she realized that she might by her own unaided efforts support a Bible woman.
Miss Ella McLaurin spoke in church at Glenwood one Sunday morning in the year 1890 and explained that for twenty-five dollars a year a Bible woman could be employed who would give her entire time to teaching the gospel. Aunt Fanny's attention was arrested at once. "Is it possible?" she said to herself. "Oh! if I only could do this thing." At the close of the service she asked Miss McLaurin if she had heard aright. When assured that she had she went home and could think of nothing else. "Can I possibly do this?" she asked herself over and over. "Can I with my small income and my stiffened fingers take upon myself the responsibility?" Yet how she longed to do this for the Lord. So she concluded to give to the Lord her weakness.
She had saved enough money to buy a little home and about this time it was sold and the proceeds invested so that the money came in monthly payments. This helped her in the decision to support a Bible woman.
So she says "I pinched and economized and felt honored in doing menial work for the Lord and would not change places with any worldly woman who must spend her money in worldly ways."
Her attire "quaint and olden" while very plain is always neat, and we who love her would not dare offer to change or supplement it in any way; for Aunt Fanny is very proud of her ability to take care of herself. When some of her friends offered her a home with them where she need not work but could rest the remainder of her life she declined the offer, saying that as long as she lived and God gave her strength she wanted to work for Him, to work so that she might give to His cause.
Carlyle could not have found a better exemplification of the "Dignity of labor," nor Phillips Brooks of the "Beauty of a life of Service."
She often in our midweek prayer meetings tells of the joy, peace and happiness that have come to her and what a great privilege that her Master would allow her to be a fellow worker with her Bible woman. One of the happiest experiences of her life was in receiving a letter which Dr. Clough had written her telling of the work of this native woman and enclosing a message from the helper herself.
"What do I care for jewels and fine clothes when God can transform my small offering into souls brought into the kingdom through the teaching of my helper? "Think how happy I shall be on the resurrection morning to meet those redeemed souls. "What are these paltry things compared to transformed lives and souls saved?"
Aunt Fanny would consent to having a sketch of her life made public only that others might be influenced to take upon themselves the "privilege" of doing a similar work. It has long been her desire that in some way she might influence laboring women to give of their poverty to this work of their Lord.
People often say to her "Let the rich give out of their abundance;" but her answer is "I don't want the poor to miss the great blessing which will come to them." "Don't let anyone fail to give because she can only give a little, for the Lord can increase it in His own wonderful way."
If Aunt Fanny could only be instrumental in establishing guilds of working women banded together for the support of either a Bible woman or some other form of missionary work, the desire of her heart would be gratified. "Oh! if I could only induce women who work to invest a portion of their earnings in this blessed service I would be the happiest woman on earth."
Her Story as Told by Herself:
When asked to write out the main facts of her life Aunt Fanny responded in the following characteristic way:
"I was born in Barnard, Vt., November 13, 1827, and removed to Randolph, Mass., in November, 1835, where I went to the Sunday School. Never will I forget the Superintendent's talk to us the first day I was there. I had often read the story of the crucifixion, but had thought that the Jews murdered Jesus, and it was a new thought that He gave His life, and so touching that I wept.
"In the early summer of 1836 some one told me that I was a sinner, which I never thought before; but them the thought of the many blessings God had bestowed on me came crowding into my mind. I had never thanked Him for them; never thought of them, and I felt that I was a dreadful sinner, that such ingratitude was the blackest of crimes. I wished I could go off on a pilgrimage like the heathen to do some great thing to turn away the anger of God; but when I found at last that Jesus had paid it all I felt such a love for Him and wanted Him to love me, but thought that if I was a Christian I must never laugh but always be sober, and it looked hard, very hard; but finally I thought I wanted Christ so much I must have him at any cost, and I would always be sober. I love to look to the choice I made in my heart then; but Christ has not been the hard master that Satan tried to make me think. I wanted to be baptized then, but my friends feared I would forget and kept me waiting three years, and on the third day of August, 1839, it was the most precious privilege to follow Christ in baptism, and I need not speak of the sweet peace that came to my heart. I had not much to say, but much to think.
"I came to Iowa thirty-six years ago and have been a member of the Baptist Church in Glenwood thirty-six years. I am asked what caused me to feel the interest in Foreign Missions that I do. When I was seven years of age I used to sing the missionary hymn 'Yes, My Native Land, I Love Thee,' 'From Greenland's Icy Mountains,' later on 'Watchman, Tell Us of the Night.' I read the lives of the early missionary women and thought I wished I might go, but I never dreamed that after I was sixty years old I would have the privilege of supporting a native Bible woman, doing far more good than if I had gone. I have felt that we were yoke fellows, each wearing the yoke of Christ in our own native country and that the Master was watching us both. It has been blessed service. 'Work, for the Night is Coming' is a favorite song of mine.
"The morning of my life was spent in happy favored New England, and there I found and confessed Christ and came West at the noontime, where it has been my privilege to toil for Him as I could not if I had remained in New England; and now, as the night is soon coming and the sunset skies are bright, I am taking mountain top views of His grand work in the world and thinking of the meeting with Him and all His chosen ones beyond the River.
"My grandfather Dean was a soldier in the Revolutionary war and I want to be a faithful soldier of Christ."
(Note) Through such gifts as Aunt Fanny's, provision has been made for most of our Bible-women, but the new Field Share Plan offers abundant opportunity for definite participation in the work of a chosen locality on the part of any, who, reading this story of glad self-denial, are minded to go and do likewise.)
Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the West
1318 Masonic Temple, Chicago, Ill.
Price, 5 Cents.
October 21, 1904
P.C. Manteuffel, Printer, Chicago
Submitted by Alyson Grupp
Mills Biographies maintained by Karyn Techau.
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