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Old 06-22-2003, 11:09 AM
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A Little Girl's Prayer

A Little Girl’s Prayer

A true story from a missionary Nurse working in a camp & orphanage in the Belgian Congo (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. I knew we would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we did not have electricity to run an incubator, as well as 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 the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and to fill a hot water bottle.

She returned shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle it had burst. You see, rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “And it was 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 hot water bottles. They do not grow on trees and there are no drug stores down the forest pathways.

“All right”, I said, “Put the baby as close to 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 children 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. The baby could so easily die if it got chilled.

I also told them of them two year old sister crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten year old girl named Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children.
“Please God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle. 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, “By the way of a corollary, and while you are about it God, would please send a dolly for the little girl so she will know that You really love her”.

As so 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 particular time, and I had never received a parcel from home. Anyway if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a water bottle? I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching the nurses training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached my home the car had gone, but there on the verandah, was
A large twenty-two 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 untying each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly.

The 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 began to look a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas-that would make a nice 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 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 ask: “Can I go over with you, mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she will know that Jesus really does love her?”

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 girl five months before in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year old to bring it that afternoon.

BY Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare was a missionary from Northern Ireland. This is a true story that took place in the 1950’s while she was serving as a missionary at a camp in what was then known as the Belgian Congo in Central Africa.
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Brother Pat.....
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