January 8, 2017    JANE’S HEART TO HEART …  PASTOR’S HELP MATE

January 8, 2017 JANE’S HEART TO HEART …  PASTOR’S HELP MATE

Helen Roseveare, Missionary to Africa shared this TRUE story.

THE HOT WATER BOTTLE

One night, in Central Africa, I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all that we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying,  two-year-old daughter.  We had no incubator, no electricity to run an incubator, and no special feeding facilities. On the equator, nights were often chilly and drafty.  A student midwife went for a box of supplies for cotton wool to wrap the baby. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle and came back in distress, the bottle had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates, “it was our last hot water bottle!”  I had them put the baby as near the fire as they could, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts.

The following noon I went to have prayers with the orphanage children who often gathered with me. I gave them suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the baby’s needs, the broken hot water bottle. The baby could die if it got chilled and told them about the two-year-old sister, crying, whose mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt way of our African children. “Please, God, send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead; so, please send it this afternoon.” While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added to her prayer, ” …And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?” 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 prayer would be by sending 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 a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! 

That afternoon as I taught the nurses’ training school, a message came that there was a car at my door. When I reached home, the car had gone, but on the veranda, was a large parcel! I felt tears as we carefully untied each knot.  All of those little eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored jerseys, knitted bandages, and the children began to look a little bored. Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas. As I put my hand in again, I felt the…could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, “A new 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, “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 no doubts! She looking 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. One of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child — five months earlier in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “That afternoon!”

December 11 and 18, 2016  Jane’s Heart to Heart   …Pastor’s Help Mate

“God never uses a person greatly until

He has wounded him deeply.

The privilege He offers you is greater than the price you have to pay.

The privilege is greater than the price.”

Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare 1925 – December 7, 2016)

Helen Roseveare was a famous English missionary to the Congo. This Thursday, Helen passed away at the age of 91.  Helen was born in 1925 at Haileybury College (Hertfordshire, England), where her father taught mathematics.

Raised in a high Anglican church, Helen’s Sunday school teacher once told their class about India, and Helen resolved to herself that she would one day be a missionary. Despite the Christian heritage of her family, and faithful attendance at church, Helen sensed a void in her life and distance from God.

She enrolled in Newnham College at Cambridge University to study medicine. There she joined the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) through the invitation of a fellow student.  She became an active participant in the prayer meetings and Bible studies, reading the New Testament for the first time. It was then that she became a Christian and, later said that her understanding of Christianity was more head knowledge than heart engagement.

Helen was an English Christian missionary, doctor and author. She worked with Worldwide Evangelization Crusade in the Congo from 1953 to 1973, including part of the period of political instability in the early 1960s. She practiced medicine and also trained others in medical work.

In 1953, she went to the Congo, where she was assigned to the north-east provinces. She built a combination hospital/ training center in Ibambi in the early 1950s, then relocated to Nebobongo, living in an old leprosy camp, where she built another hospital. In 1964 she was taken prisoner by rebel forces and she remained a prisoner for five months, enduring beatings and rapes. She survived all of this during the Congolese civil war because of the intervention of the villagers she had helped previously. She left the Congo and headed back to England after her release but returned to the Congo in 1966 to assist in the rebuilding of the nation. She helped establish a new medical school and hospital, as the other hospitals that she built had been destroyed, and served there until she left in 1973.

After her return from Africa, she had a worldwide ministry speaking and writing. Her life of service was portrayed in the 1989 film “Mama Luka Comes Home,” her touching story about the prayer of a 10-year-old African girl, for a hot water bottle to save a premature newborn baby after its mother died.   

Next week we will share that story.