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Mushrooms from Heaven

In 1880, a Christian couple, George and Sarah Clarke, purchased the lease for the Pacific Beer Garden.

Promptly dropping the word Beer, the couple added the word Mission, and launched a ministry to homeless alcoholics and downtrodden men and women. Thus was born the Pacific Garden Mission of Chicago—the Old Lighthouse—the second oldest rescue mission in the United States.

Colonel and Mrs. Clarke bore the cost of the mission themselves, but as expenses grew and the ministry expanded, their funds ran low. Eventually the day came when they could not pay the rent. Attempts to secure the needed funds failed, and Colonel Clarke was told he had only 24 hours to make the payment. Otherwise, he would lose his lease, and the Pacific Garden Mission would close.

Throughout the night, Colonel and Mrs. Clarke prayed, asking God to guide and to provide in his own way and time. They reminded the Lord of the souls being saved each night, of the men and women whose lives were being salvaged. They asked him why they should find themselves in such straits while trying to do his work. But, determining to trust and not question, they remained before the throne of grace in simple faith and in earnest pleading until the breaking of dawn.

When they emerged from their Morgan Park house that morning, they gasped. What had happened to their front yard? It was covered with something white, something that instantly reminded them of the manna of the Old Testament. Looking closer, they discovered their lawn was filled with mushrooms of the very best quality, which was quite mysterious because it wasn't the season for mushrooms.

Gathering the crop, the Clarkes carted the mushrooms down the street and sold them to the chefs at the Palmer House, the famed hotel just off of Michigan Avenue, for a large price. The receipts were enough to pay the rent, with enough left over to meet other ministry expenses.

So, the Pacific Garden Mission carried on, its work undeterred.

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