This beautiful story was written by a doctor who worked 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 (we had no
electricity to run an incubator). 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
shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst
(rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). ‘And it is our last hot water
bottle!’ she exclaimed.
As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled
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 pathw ays.
‘All right,’ I said, ‘put the baby as near the fire as
you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from
drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.’
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 problem 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 sister,
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’ she prayed, ‘Send us a hot water bottle
today. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please
send it this afternoon.’
While I gasped inwardly 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 knowYou 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. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But
there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this
particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had
been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I 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
verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears p rickin g 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. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly.
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, rubber 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 has sent the bottle, He must have sent the
dolly, too!’ Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the
small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted!
Looking up at me, she asked, ‘Can I go over with you and give this dolly to
that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?’
‘Of course,’ I replied.
That parcel had been on the way for five whole months,
packed up 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
‘Before they call, I will answer.’ (Isaiah 65:24)
Posted in Stories by Sharon with 1 comment.