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An unexpected answer

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Christians by definition believe in the supernatural. After all, at the heart of our faith is the belief that our Savior rose from the dead. But do we pray and live like those who are walking with a God, who has the power to intervene supernaturally?

Helen Roseveare was a medical missionary for many years in the Congo. One sweltering night in the jungle, she delivered a baby, and the mother died during childbirth, leaving a premature infant and a 2-year old-daughter, who was crying for her mother.

Helen knew that the infant really needed an incubator, but nothing so sophisticated was available at this remote outpost. So she told a student nurse to run and get a hot water bottle. A few minutes later, the student came back in a state of distress. The hot water bottle had broken while being filled, and it was the last one.

Somehow, the baby managed to live through the night, and the next day Helen went to the village orphanage. She told the orphans about what happened the night before, and asked them to pray for the little baby and her sister.

During prayer, one of the orphans, a 10-year-old girl named Ruth, said, “God, could you please send a hot water bottle? And please send it today, God. It will be no good tomorrow, because the baby will be dead.”

While Helen was still gasping inwardly at the audacity of this little girl’s prayer, Ruth continued, “And God, would you please send a doll baby to the little sister, so that she’ll know Jesus really loves her?”

Helen knew that the only way a hot water bottle could arrive would be if a parcel arrived from home, and she had been in the Congo for four years, and had never received such a parcel. And if anyone did think to send her a parcel, who would think to put a hot water bottle in a parcel that was headed to a place near the equator?

Later that day, she was teaching the nurses, and someone came in and told her that a car was in front of her house. She went outside, and the car was gone, but the parcel it had delivered was on the ground.

About 30 or 40 orphans gathered around, their excitement building as they carefully untied the strings. Ruth felt around and pulled out some clothes for the orphans, some food, and some bandages for lepers.

And then she felt it…. Could it really be? She pulled out a brand new hot water bottle. Little Ruth rushed forward, saying, “If God sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the doll baby, too!” And she reached in and pulled out a beautifully dressed doll.

Ruth said to Helen, “Mummy, can I go with you to take it to the little girl, so that she’ll know Jesus really loves her?”

Helen was crying. She had not asked God to send it. Deep down, she really did not believe that he could.

God tells us to pray boldly, with the faith of a little child. He is honored by such faith, and delights in answering our prayers.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.