This 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 inspite
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
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. I felt tears pricking
my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage
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
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
Please share this amazing story with as many others as you can. Our God
really IS… AN AWESOME GOD!