Very sick child

He was one of 11 children. His mother was English and his farther was German with Jewish origins. The Barnardo family had moved from Spain to Egypt to north Italy and settled in northern Germany. Thomas was a very sick child. At the age of 2 he lay critically ill, the doctor was called, as his parents knew he was dying. The doctor pronounced him dead, a second doctor was called and he to pronounced him dead. Thomas’s parents then called the undertaker with the tiny coffin made, all the undertaker had to do was prepare the body for burial. Suddenly the undertaker thought he saw a tiny flutter of movement, then he saw another then another. Tom Barnardo wasn’t dead.

Gradually Tom was nursed back to health to become a sturdy and resilient youngster. His family said it was a miracle, and knew he was a very special person. He described his nationality in terms of the blood that ran through his veins as a bit of all sorts. Because of all his nationalities it made him a hot tempered, stubborn and demanding child. He had a very loud voice and when he spoke everyone listened. He was totally different from his brother Harry as he had a beautiful singing voice, Tom became jealous of Harry as he was always asked to sing to guests in their house and was always rewarded with gifts and chocolate for his talent.

Tom was full of mischief, he was thoughtless and careless. His family said he was not born a saint. He gave a great deal of trouble at home. At his first school he was always in trouble and the same at his second school. He was very good at reading, but caused concern with his parents and teacher’s with the books he was reading as atheist’s, who did not believe in God or religion wrote them. As he came from a very religious family this caused lots of problems for him. By the time he was 15 years old he told everyone he did not believe in God. Ignoring the religious knowledge he had learned from his Quaker mother or from the church of Ireland that he had been baptised into as a baby.

He left school at 16 with no qualifications, he took up a business opportunity that his farther had found for him. His reading abilities began to show; through his love of reading it made the job boring for young Tom. In the early 1860s religion made a powerful revival in Ireland masses of people gathered in the metropolitan Hall in Dublin to hear the preaching of men like Henry Gratten Guiness.

Barnardo had very little time for such things he had an answer for all the amazing things that were happening around him. He called it “emotional Hysteria”. Most of his friends had converted to the revival, but he said that they would soon go back to their old ways. He was now an arrogant 17-year-old. Underneath he was more worried then he let people know. The power of the Gospel of Christ had made two of his brother’s convert. Concerned for Tom the brother’s tried to pursuade him to come to the meetings, in the end he agreed to go to a small meeting in the house of a friend, but all he did was behave badly and give cheek to the speaker.

He later wrote an apology to the speaker but instead of shouting at Tom he spoke kindly to him. This disturbed Barnardo started to question all the things he had read, he no longer made fun of the religious beliefs of his brothers or friends, instead he could be found regularly attending the meetings not many weeks later one message really got to him he now knew for certain that not only had he been wrong not to believe in God but also he had deeply offended against his God. His brothers tried to help him by spending hours kneeling and praying with him.

In time the only books he read was the bible and other religious books. He began to work for Christian services, he enrolled as a teacher in one of Dublin’s ragged schools. This was the first time he was such poverty for himself. He is known to have said “if I had a dog I would not let it live where I found these children”. He was still a very short tempered man and was known to walk with a cane but he no longer carried one in case he lost his temper with one of the children and hit them with it.

For a few years after he converted to Christianity he carried on teaching at the Ragged School, but he wanted to do more. In 1866 he was introduced to a man named Hudson Taylor, Taylor was one of the first religious missionaries in China Barnardo was very impressed with Taylor’s description of all the opportunities for the gospel in China Barnardo volunteered for missionary service. At Hudson Taylor’s suggestion, Barnardo went to London to train.

When Barnardo arrived in London he decided to train at a doctor thinking this would be useful in China. While living in the East End of London he came face to face with more and more poverty, much more than he had ever seen in Ireland. In his short time in London he decided that he was needed here and not in China. In his decision, he was later to rescue children world-wide bringing shelter, education and work to the poor. Not long after Barnardo arrived in London there was an outbreak of cholera in the East End killing more than 3,000 people and leaving families homeless and destitute.

Thousands of children slept on the streets and many were forced to beg after being injured in factories. In 1867 Barnardo set up a ragged school in the East End, were poor children could get a basic education. One evening a …

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