Thursday, August 6, 2015

Empty Bins

My grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, who went to Alaska as pioneer missionaries in 1917, were greatly influenced by accounts of the faith ministry of George Mueller (1805-1898), an evangelist and director of a large orphanage in England (see previous posts). When Mueller's orphanage had a need, he did not ask people for aid but took it directly to God in prayer.

Charles & Florence Personeus
Married April 5, 1916
A little more than a year after the newly married Personeuses arrived in Alaska, a deadly flu epidemic struck Juneau. Schools were closed, all public meetings were cancelled, and quarantine signs were placed on the door of every house where someone was sick. Many people died.

When the epidemic finally ended, many children were left without a mother or father, so the Personeuses started a children's home.
The Personeuses had little money to support the children's home, but they trusted God to supply the needs for rent of a big house, coal for heat, and food and clothing for the children.

Soon, they had many mouths to feed. Twice a week, Mrs. Personeus had to bake 18 loaves of bread. That required a lot of flour, which they kept in a large bin.

One morning, Mrs. Personeus prepared to bake bread, only to  discover that the flour bin was empty. When she told her husband, he took out his wallet and showed her it was empty too.

Then, Mr. Personeus discovered that the coal bin was nearly empty too. In Alaska, that was serious. The temperature outside often went way below freezing during the long winters months. Even in the summer, it was too cool to go without heat in the house.

Remembering how George Mueller had led his orphans in prayer when they needed food for breakfast and the Lord had supplied, Mr. Personeus asked his wife, "Can you sing the Doxology over these empty bins?"

"I can," she answered.

They gathered the children together and explained, "We don't have any flour for bread or coal for heat."

The children's eyes opened wide. A few of the little ones even began to cry.

"Don't cry or be afraid," Mr Personeus said. "Remember, God is our Heavenly Father. He knows what we need. He will take care of us. We're going to sing the Doxology and praise God for the supply of all our needs."

They trooped to the flour bin, joined hands, and began to sing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow...." They sang the Doxology again around the coal bin. The children left for school, and the Personeuses went about their duties for the day, trusting God to supply their needs.

Mid-morning, Mrs. Personeus heard a knock at the door. A man she didn't know stood there carrying a huge sack of flour. "Thought you might be able to use this," he said as he carried the sack into the kitchen. Then, he brought in a second sack of flour.

"Oh, thank you!" Mrs. Personeus said. "It's just what we need!"

A little while later, another knock sounded at the door. "I have a load of coal for you," said the man.

"But we didn't order any coal today," Mrs. Personeus told him.

"I know, but this coal is for you, and it's all paid for." And he proceeded to fill up the coal bin.

The Personeuses never did learn who had provided the flour and coal that day, but what a time of praise and thanksgiving they had after school when they all gathered around full bins and again sang, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."!

Has God ever supplied a need of yours in answer to prayer? I'd would love to hear about it.

(More stories of the Personeuses' 65 years in Alaska are recorded in my book, Frontiers of Faith, available at and

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