On top of Washington Mountain, overlooking a deep valley stood a simple hut. This hut was the home of John Barry, a poor charcoal burner. During the past summer, John had felt sick and was not able to work as much as usual.
In December, several heavy snowfalls came. The road up the mountain from the village below was completely drifted shut. Before the road could be cleared, another storm raged, and John and his wife were stranded with only one day’s supply of food left.
In the village of Sheffield, ten miles away, lived Deacon Brown. Mr. Brown was a well-to-do farmer, known for his Christian life and practice. The deacon and his wife, Margaret had gone to bed, and, in spite of the storm, both were sleeping soundly. Toward morning, the deacon suddenly awoke. He had a strong impression he needed to bring food to someone named John. He awoke his wife and told her.
“Nonsense!” replied Mrs. Brown. “Go back to sleep. You must have been dreaming.” The deacon laid down again, and in a few minutes he was asleep. When he awoke, the impression was as strong as ever.
“Well!” said Mrs. Brown, “You must be ill. I wonder if you have a fever. Lie down and try to sleep.”
“Listen, Margaret,” he said, “Do you know anyone named John who might need food?”
“No one that I can think of,” replied Mrs. Brown, “unless it could be John Barry, the old charcoal burner on the mountain.”
“That’s it!” exclaimed the deacon. “Now I remember. When I was at the store in town the other day, Mr. Clark said, ‘I wonder if old John Barry is alive, for it is six weeks since I saw him. He has not come in for his winter stock of groceries yet.’ It must be that old John is sick and needs food.”
Quickly, the deacon and his wife got dressed. Mr. Brown woke his helper, Willie, and the men ate a hurried breakfast while Mrs. Brown packed a good supply of food in the two largest baskets she could find.
After breakfast, Mr. Brown and Willie hitched up the horses to the double sleigh. With a month’s supply of food, they began their journey just as the first streaks of light appeared on the horizon. It would be a dangerous trip. The wind was still blowing and the snow kept falling and drifting. Yet the team of horses continued on their trip of mercy. While the people on the sleigh, wrapped up in blankets and extra buffalo robes, urged the horses through the drifts in the face of the storm, that ten-mile ride, which normally took less than an hour, was not completed until nearly five hours had passed.
At last they drew up in front of the hut where the poor, trusting Christian man and his wife had been praying for help to Him Who is the hearer of prayers. As the deacon reached the door, he heard the voice of prayer. He knocked at the door; it was opened, and we can scarcely imagine the joy of the old couple! The generous supply of food was carried in, and thanksgivings were raised to God by John Barry and his wife in their mountain hut.
How God Sent a Dog to Save a Family and other Devotional Stories, 59–61, by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn, Reformation Heritage Books.