Cyrus McCormick’s father dreamed of inventing a machine to harvest crops. He tinkered for years, but it was Cyrus who became famous for inventing the reaper. Cyrus went to Chicago at age 38 with $60 in his pocket to open his factory. By age 40 he was a millionaire.

He met a young lady from New York, Nettie Fowler. Nettie was striking, tall, graceful, with shining brown eyes. The radiance on her face, Cyrus learned, came from her relationship with Christ. They fell in love and married on January 26, 1859. Nettie was 26 years younger than Cyrus, and the couple enjoyed 26 years together. Cyrus’ death in 1884 left Nettie wealthy beyond belief. What did she do with her money?

She established McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago for young Presbyterian ministers. She enabled John R. Mott of the Student Volunteer Movement to go to the ends of the earth to organize student missions. She helped form the World’s Student Christian Federation. She contributed to the evangelic campaigns of D. L. Moody. She supported Wilfred Grenfell, missionary to Labrador, and George Livingston Robinson, archaeologist to Petra. She funded Tusculum College in Tennessee, and gave generously to educational efforts in Appalachia.

She absorbed herself in Asian missions, and her house off Michigan Avenue in Chicago became a Christian halfway house between the Orient and the West, a center of international Christianity. It was always full of missionaries and overseas Christians.

She improved the water supply in one country, provided a hospital in another, and a Christian college in another. She built a women’s clinic in Persia and a seminary in Korea. She sent agricultural machines to India.

She did it all in the name of Christ. But she never thought of herself as a great giver. Others, she felt, did more. She could give money, but “… the greatest gift of all comes from the self-sacrifice and devotion of missionaries,” she said.

You can tell where people’s hearts are by looking at their check stubs.

Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Jan. 26.

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