Friday, October 22, 2010

The truth of the hot water bottle miracle

Boyd posted this story to his Facebook page. It is a very familiar story which I have received as an email countless times but never knew if it was true. In fact just this week, I got it again. I am glad to know that this is not fiction like many too good to be true stories that came my way. However, all these years of getting to know the Lord also caused me to take advantage of the occasion to share this comment at Boyd's page.

Praise the Lord always! And there are many such and greater stories in the making especially those prayers he disappoints for now. Before Christ, we needed the signs and wonders. After Christ, and he is all sufficient, the Nos from God strengthen our faith because things more wonderful than we can imagine are in the works. That is why we have Rev 22:20. Our "disappointed" faith will bear fruit.

Truth or Fcition: Get it at

Here is the story as often passed around. Some editions mentioned that it occurred in South Africa, which is of course mistaken and led them to disbelieve the story.

THE HOT WATER BOTTLE - A True Story By Helen Roseveare, Missionary to Africa

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 would have difficulty keeping the baby alive. 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.

A student-midwife went for the box we had for such babies and for the
cotton wool that 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 a burst water bottle. 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
many 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 chilled. I also told them about 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 consciousness of
our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "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 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 there? The only way God could answer
this particular 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!

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 that I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on
the veranda, 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 colored,
knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then, there were the
knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children began to
look a little bored. Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - -
that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. 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. 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!" "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will
answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24

Helen Roseveare a doctor missionary from England to Zaire, Africa, told
this as it had happened to her in Africa. She shared it in her
testimony on a Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

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