09 Sep Tomorrow’s Too Late
Have you ever heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare, the famous British missionary doctor to the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo)? Her life’s motto was, “If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” As a single woman, she served for 20 years overseas while enduring incredible hardship. At one point she was taken captive by rebel soldiers. During the five months of her captivity, she was brutally beaten and raped. But Helen knew that her relationship with God had not been damaged. In fact, God redeemed those horrible events by asking her a counselor to female missionaries who have been abused. Now in her 80s, Dr Roseveare continues to serve the Lord. She travels tirelessly as an internationally acclaimed spokeswoman for Christian missions, mobilizing people by showing them that God uses imperfect people with real struggles to be his ambassadors to the world.
She tells about a holy moment that displayed God’s incredible hand of providence in the lives of some young orphans. One evening, she attended a young mother giving birth to a premature baby girl. Despite Dr. Roseveare’s best efforts, the mother died, leaving the tiny infant and a crying two-year-old daughter. Dr Roseveare knew that without an incubator or electricity, it would be difficult to keep the baby alive because of the cold, drafty nights. She asked a native assistant to fetch the hot water bottle to keep the infant warm. However, they discovered that the hot water bottle had burst. Dr Roseveare instructed the nurse to hold the child as close to an open fire as safety would allow to help the child survive the cold night.
The following day, Helen gathered the other orphans for prayer time. She told them about the newly born baby, the two-year-old orphan and the broken hot water bottle. Ruth, a precocious 10-year-old, prayed. “Please God, send us a hot water bottle. Tomorrow will be too late, God, because the baby will be dead by then, so please send it this afternoon.” The staff was shocked by the prayer’s boldness. Yet Ruth continued, “While you’re at it, would you please send a doll for the little girl, so that she knows that you really love her?”
Helen said she knew in theory that God was capable of doing anything-the Bible said so. But she had her doubts. Besides, she hadn’t received any parcels from England for nearly four years. Also, who back home would think that they needed a hot water bottle in tropical Africa?
Later in the afternoon, while making her rounds, Dr Roseveare heard a car drive down the dirt road. When she returned to her apartment, she was astounded to discover a large parcel on the veranda. As tears welled in her eyes, she called the orphans so that they could open the box together. In addition to clothes, bandages and snacks, a new rubber hot water bottle was in the box! Ruth, who was stirring in the first row, shouted, “If God sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the doll too!” Then she dug to the bottom of the parcel and pulled out a beautiful little doll. She insisted that they take the doll to the little two-year-old girl so that she would know that Jesus loves her.
The parcel had been on the way for five months sent by a women’s Bible study group. One inspired women had been so obedient to God that she even sent a hot water bottle to the equator. And one of the ladies had given a doll, 5 months before a 10-year-old African girl would pray, “We need it this afternoon, God.” The words Jesus said are true: “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). God saw what was needed before the prayer was uttered. Through His divine providence, He was able to arrange the details of the past to benefit a situation that would take place in the future. His fingerprints were all over that parcel!