Sunday, June 15, 2008

Before they call, I will answer.

Today in church, a sweet friend of mine who is from South Africa, shared a really neat story.  I thought it would be something nice to pass along.  

This story was written by a doctor in South Africa.

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two year old daughter.  We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator or electricity to run one.  We also had no special feeding facilities.  Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.  One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.  Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle.  She came back in distress, explaining that that it had burst as she was filling it (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates).  "And it is our last hot water bottle!" she exclaimed.  As in the West, it is no use crying overspilled milk so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles.  They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.  I instructed them to put the baby as near the fire as it would be safe, and to sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. 

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me.  I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby.  I explained our problems about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills.  I also told them of the two year old, crying because her mother had died.  During prayer time, one ten year old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. "Please God, send us a water bottle.  It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon."  I inwardly gasped at the audacity of the prayer, she added, "And while you are about it, would you please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know you really love her?"

As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot.  Could I honestly say, "amen."  I just did not believe that God could do this.  Yes, I know He can do anything, the Bible says so, but there are limits aren't there?  The only way God could answer this particular prayer was by sending me a parcel from my homeland.  I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and had never, ever received a parcel from home.  Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle?  I lived on the equator!  Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door.

By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large 22 pound parcel.  I felt tears pricking my eyes.  I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children.  Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot.  Excitement was mounting.  Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.  From the top, I lifted out brightly colored knitted jerseys.  Eyes sparkled as I gave them out.  then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored.  Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.  Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the...could it really be?  I grasped it and pulled it out--yes, a brand new hot water bottle.  I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.  Ruth was in the front row of the children.  She rushed forward, crying out, "If God sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly too!"  Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out a small, beautifully dressed doll.  Her eyes shone!  She had never doubted.  Looking up at me she asked, "Can I go with you to give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?"

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months.  Packed by my former Sunday School class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator.  And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child--five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it "that afternoon."

Before they call, I will answer.
Isaiah 65:24


Elisa said...

Wow. That is beautiful.

The Bobos said...

What a great lesson to be learned. Thanks Jen!

jill said...

That is a great story.

Lauralee said...

amazing.. what beautiful. simple. faith!

Chris said...

Thank you! I needed that. Isn't it amazing how many things are put into play long before they are needed?! It is another reason to keep moving forward in faith.

Suzanne said...

Loved the story!

Rebecca said...

So glad you took the time to post this. It's quite amazing and a lovely reminder.

Jek said...