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A LITTLE GIRL’S PRAYER

Written by Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor from England to Zaire.

One night a mother was in the labor ward. But in spite of all we could do she died, leaving us with a premature baby and a two-year-old daughter.  As we had no incubator we would have difficulty keeping the baby alive. 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 – inside the cotton wool to wrap the infant. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. In doing so it burst. This bottle was the last one. "All right," I said, "Put the baby as near the fire as you can, 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. I asked them to pray for the tiny, orphaned baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could 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. And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You love her.” As I listened I wonder if I could honestly say, "Amen”? The only way God could answer this prayer would be by sending a parcel from home. In my almost four years in Africa I had never received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would send a hot water bottle to the Equator? 

That afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school a car pulled up to my front door and left a 22-lb. parcel on the verandah. When I opened it I could hardly believe my eyes! There was a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle that brought tears to my eyes. And rummaging down to the bottom of the box, I pulled out a small, beautifully dressed dolly. The package had been 5 months on the way.  

-edited by Doyle Klaassen, original in Helen Roseveare’s book, Living Faith