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God Always Answers


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 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 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. 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 the 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 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 way of a corollary, "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 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 twenty-two pound parcel. l 
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 doubted. Looking up at me, she 
asked: "Can I go over with you Mummy, and 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 
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 "That Afternoon." 

"Before they call, I will answer!" Isaiah 65:24


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