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Introduction: “I will answer” (Helen Roseveare)
“I will answer”
God promises to answer us – again and again.
His answer is not always what we expect or even want, but bigger and better than our asking.
Call to me and I will answer you; and show you great and mighty things, you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
As I lay in bed last night, thinking/meditating/praying with soft instrumental worship playing on my CD, ‘it came to me’ that I would love to read a book of the best revival stories from the many issues of the Renewal Journal. So here it is. Being editor, I get to choose the ones I especially like. Many more great stories are in my other books such as Transforming Revivals. This editorial has another great story about living faith, miracles and answered prayer.
Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor to the Congo, recorded this story in her book, Living Faith. She also wrote books about the Belgian Congo (now Zaire) revival of the 1950s.
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labour ward; but in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a 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) and 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 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 drugstores down forest pathways.”All right,” I said, “Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; 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 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.”
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of 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’ 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 coloured, 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, too!” 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.”
“Before they call, I will answer!” (Isaiah 65:24)
Dr Helen Roseveare (1925-), an English missionary to the Congo from 1953 to 1973, suffered terribly through the political instability in the early 1960s and as a prisoner of rebel forces for five months in 1964. After her release she headed back to England but returned to the Congo in 1966 to assist in the rebuilding of the nation. Now retired she lives in Northern Ireland. The film Mama Luka Comes Home documents her return visit to Zaire in 1989.
Revivals abound with such stories of answered prayer and miracles. This book contains a few of those stories.
John Greenfield’s book, Power from on High, sparkles with the vibrant evangelism and mission of the Moravian revival which flamed into the Great Awakening and Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century.
Carl Lawrence graphically describes an example of revival in China ignited by two teenage girls. Djiniyini Gondarra traces the humble beginnings of the Aboriginal revival in Australia. David Yonggi Cho recounts his experience of explosive revival in communist Russia.
Richard Riss gathered extensive reports of revival awakenings in North America and England, and David Hogan testifies to amazing revivals in Mexico
We too can participate in prayer and revival in vital ways:
We can Ask God for a great harvest as we pray.
We can Believe God. He is able to do far more than anything we ask or even think about.
We can Commit our way to God who is the Lord of the harvest.
I pray that this book will both inform and inspire you. We can all join the millions praying “… Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. … For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.”
More Revival Stories
Flashpoints of Revival (2nd ed., 2009)
South Pacific Revivals (2nd ed., 2010)
Transforming Revivals (2011)
(c) 2011 Renewal Journal articles may be reproduced with the copyright included.
Renewal Journal – Contents – All issues with links to articles
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