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!”