Journal Entires from Mrs. Ruth Geiger, Part II
We had gone to Tennessee by faith- trusting the Lord to supply our needs. We had no organization behind us and no promise of support from any church. We resolved not to ask for money and not go into debt, and both these resolutions were kept to the end. However, a few churches whose pastors knew us began sending gifts, and these gifts increased, and the work grew. Our bank account got very low many times, but the Lord always supplied our needs. One example of this stands out in my memory. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and we were still living in town. As we left on horseback to go to Oak Grove, where we had a bible class in the PM for children and one for grown-ups that night, I mailed a letter to my parents- using our last 2 cents for the stamp. I did not mention that in the letter, and I cannot remember being worried. We stayed overnight in Oak Grove and rode home the next morning. In the mailbox, we found several letters which contained small gifts, which added to $85.00. We had a happy Thanksgiving Day- our first of many (1922).
After we had been in Tennessee about 5 years and had become better known, several judges and MDs came to us and wondered if we had ever thought of starting a home for needy children. The depression had set in, and the already low economy became lower. We were told of several really dire situations involving children. We prayed about it and became impressed with the need. By now, we had been in our new home for a couple of years. Adjoining our property was a small farm (40-50 acres) owned by a not-too-friendly elderly couple. We became impressed with what a nice place it could be made for homeless children. In the fall of ’29, we were on a trip East to Pennsylvania, and Mr. Geiger was invited to speak at a small chapel-like church in North Jersey on a Sunday morning.
Attending church that morning was a couple who came in a Rolls Royce- with a liveried chauffeur- Mr. and Mrs. Frank Erwin, a Wall St. broker from NYC. They heard Mr. Geiger tell of the work and the need for a home- and the nice farm for sale. After the service, Mr. Erwin told the pastor he wanted to give money ($3000). He would give it in stock (some copper company- I forgot the name). The church should hold the stock and sell it when we were ready for it. We went back to Tennessee rejoicing and made a down payment on the farm- promising the balance in two weeks. We wrote the church to sell the stock. The treasurer wrote back that we shouldn’t sell because the stock was going up-it was worth $3800. Mr. Geiger wrote back that he must have the money as the neighbor was being difficult. The treasurer wrote back that Mr. Geiger “had no business sense and was down in the sticks and didn’t know what was going on.” Mr. Geiger phoned him and had to demand that he sell- which he did- for $3400- and the next day, the market crashed, and the stock was worthless. I’m sure you will agree that demanding was not characteristic of dad, but I am sure the Lord was leading him in this instance.
We were about to take the first children in January 1931. Most came from one-parent homes where there was dire poverty. When we accepted a child, we always held out hope that the parent could rehabilitate himself or herself and have the children back. Sometimes that happened. During the 15 years that we the home, we never had more than 20 children at a time. In the late 1930s, the U.S. government and the state started a good welfare program whereby children such as we took were provided with funds when kept at home or in the home of a relative. All such children were under the supervision of State workers. When we saw this coming, we stopped admitting children and gradually depopulated our home and began having Bible camps on the property. The change-over was done gradually as some of the children stayed with us to finish school. The home was opened at the height of the “Great Depression,” but the Lord supplied all the needs. Funds were often very low, but there was always enough. We built the swimming pool about this time. The camp work continued.