Who Sets The Limit? 


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 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 to 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 drug stores down forest


"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 chilled.

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. 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 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 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,


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."

He lets us set the limit...

~ Helen Roseveare~
Helen Roseveare is a medical missionary and author from England who served
for years in the former Belgian Congo.




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Image 2-www.allposters.com


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