The Hot Water Bottle on the Equator
By Dr. Helen Roseveare
Dr. Helen Roseveare, the famous British missionary doctor in
Zaire, whose autobiography "Give me this mountain" is well
worth reading. She wrote about an event during her time in
"One evening, I was helping a mother give birth in the
maternity ward. Despite our best efforts, she died, leaving
us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old girl.
It would be hard to keep the baby alive, because we had neither
electricity nor incubator, and the nights were often draughty
and cool, even though we were on the equator. An assistant
fetched our last hot water bottle to keep the baby warm, but
soon came back in desperation, because it had burst. 'OK,'
I told her, 'hold the baby as close to the fire as you can,
and keep it out of draughts.'
The following day, I had a prayer time with the orphans.
I told them about the newly born baby, the two-year-old orphan
and the broken hot water bottle. During the prayer time, Ruth,
a ten-year-old with the typical brutal directness of African
children, 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.' I took a deep breath
because of the prayer's directness, then heard her continue:
'and while you're at it, would you please send a doll for the
little girl, so that she knows that you really love her?' To be
honest, I could not believe that God would do that. Oh yes, God
can do everything. I knew that, theoretically -- it's written in
the Bible. But there are limits, aren't there? I hadn't received
any parcels from home for four years. And if anyone sent a
parcel, why would they send a hot water bottle to tropical
Late in the afternoon, I heard that a car had come. By the
time I arrived in my apartment, it had already left - but there
was a large parcel on the veranda! I could feel tears welling up
inside, and called the orphans so that we could open it together.
Apart from clothes, bandages and sultanas, the parcel contained -
I could hardly believe my eyes! - a new rubber hot water bottle!
I cried. I had not dared to ask God for it, but Ruth had! She had
been sitting in the first row, and ran forward, shouting 'If God
sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the doll too!' She
dug to the bottom of the parcel and pulled out a beautiful small
doll. Her eyes shone. She had not doubted for a moment. She
looked up and asked 'Can we go to the little girl and give her
the doll, so that she knows Jesus loves her?'
The parcel had been on the way for five months, sent by a
Sunday School class. The teacher had been so obedient to God that
she even sent a hot water bottle to the equator. One of the girls
had given a doll, five months before a 10-year-old African girl
would pray 'God, we need it this afternoon.' The words in the
Bible are true: 'Before they call, I will answer them.' (Isaiah
[ Back ]
[ Home ]