is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa.
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
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 pathways.
'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 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.
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
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 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. 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
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
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.'
they call, I will answer.' (Isaiah 65:24)
you receive this, say a prayer. That's all I ask. No strings attached.