Post Office Prayers

Autumn 1990 – Vol.6 – No.3

As in many developing countries, when it comes to getting things done it isn’t so much what you know as who you know. “Contacts” are very important here. In that regard, we are thankful to be in “contact” with the One seated high above all human authorities.

Time and again God has propelled us past looming obstacles by granting us the right friends here below. It was several such contacts that enabled us to get our second container through customs in record time without paying the charges they initially planned to extract.

In a quite extraordinary way, God recently granted us even more useful allies. Though we have little to complain about, other expatriates have noted a disturbing problem with mail theft. Magazines and packages are especially targeted. People have tried various ways of dealing with the matter, but without success.

Julie and I began praying that God would show us something we could do to insure our mail was not diverted, especially the more tempting parcels. On one of my frequent visits to the post office, I asked why the building was so dark thinking I could buy them some light bulbs and begin cultivating friendships with the workers.

You may not believe that a post office could be too poor to buy light bulbs, but that is typical for life here in the poorest nation of the world. I was amazed to learn that in fact, the entire lower floor of the central post office for the entire state, where the mail is handled and where the Chief of Distribution has his office, had been without power since February! The workers moaned that by 3:30 in the afternoon nearly everyone was operating in darkness.

Upon talking to the Director, I found out they had already spent relatively large sums of money trying to repair the problem without success, and had just about given up all hope of ever having electricity again. Julie and I began specifically praying that, if it pleased God, we would be able to gain the cooperation of the people who handle our mail by providing the solution to their difficulties, though this seemed like a rather far fetched request.

The very day we began praying, a fellow I didn’t even recognize approached me in the hospital. He had done some electrical work at our apartment and remembered me though I had forgotten him. He was a Christian and wanted to know if I could get him a Bible. I asked him if he would be willing to help me solve the problem at the post office.

Twenty minutes later I was talking to the Director who was incredulous when I asked permission to bring the electrician and my electrical equipment to see if we could find and fix the problem, free of charge. It was a pretty outlandish offer to make after the “experts” had failed, but the way things were unfolding, I sensed the Lord’s hand at work. He was nonplused, but since we could hardly make things worse than they were already, he gave us his permission.

We met for prayer, asking God to lead us to the problem and the solution, and just a few hours and $27.00 later the lights and fans came on for the first time in five months. The people at the post office were ecstatic. I didn’t hesitate to tell the Director it was God’s answer to our prayers. Now we have a lot of new friends who already have begun personally handing me our letters.

Refugee Relief – Not!

Autumn 1990 – Vol.6 – No.3

It is 10:00 A.M. on June 21st, a typically pleasant African morning. Despite the fleet of clouds sailing past overhead, the air is dry, as usual at this time of year. Seated in the passenger compartment of a truck loaded with 20 tons of corn and peas, I am mentally rehearsing a message in Portuguese as we careen down one of Mozambique’s narrow country roads.

To either side, eight foot high blades of grass crowd against the pavement like people massing at a parade, waving at us as we speed past and at times reaching out to touch us. Above the grass, boulder-like mountains thrust themselves out of the earth, towering like silent sentinels standing guard over the narrow ribbon of asphalt.

Inside, the cabin of the vehicle is worn and haggard, bearing all the signs of premature aging from rough use in a hard land. The windshield is cracked in several places, only jagged fragments remain of the two side mirrors, and broken springs protrude through blanket-covered seat cushions. Even without a speedometer, our velocity can be monitored through a substantial hole in the floor by watching the potholes streaking past below.

Behind us, in the bed of the truck, are 100 pound bags of relief food sacked and shipped by the U.S. and Canadian governments. The vegetables are garnished with 20 or so Mozambican soldiers clad in fatigues and brandishing machine guns which protrude menacingly in every direction from the cargo area.

We look dangerous, and need to, for we are heading 60 miles into the bush on our way to territory just recently regained from the guerrillas.

Behind us is a second truck carrying more soldiers and 60 burlap bags stuffed with relief clothing that has been collected by Christians in England and shipped in the container that carried our new Land Rover.

The first 40 miles of the trip are familiar. I traveled this road twice before en route to the port city of Nacala, 120 miles from our home in Nampula. Those trips were made to receive the containers of medical and personal supplies shipped to us from overseas.

On those journeys I traveled with an armed convoy. A convoy typically consists of 20 to 30 trucks loaded with cargo and soldiers, and as many cars. Though it has been many months since the road was last attacked, unpleasant stories still circulate of guerrilla ambushes.

When active, the guerrillas, or “armed bandits,” attempt to destroy one of the lead trucks using a bazooka. If they succeed, the wreckage of the truck blocks the narrow road jamming up cars and vehicles behind. From their hiding places in the grass alongside the road, the bandits then begin strafing the cars with machine gun fire, intending to wreak maximum destruction to life and property. Drivers and passengers pour from their vehicles, diving into the bush, hopefully running away from the guerrillas. Sometimes the government soldiers fire back from their positions on the trucks, but at other times they are the first to flee, leaving the civilians defenseless.

On this day, thoughts of guerrilla ambushes are far from mind as all my attention is bent on composing the message I hope to give upon reaching our destination, a refugee camp near Muecate (Mwee KAH tee). The people there have been recently liberated from the guerrillas and are in desperate need of food and clothing. Foreign governments are providing the food and Unimatco, working through Grace Missions, is furnishing the clothing.

I intend to use this as an opportunity to bear witness of Jesus Christ, but as the village of Muecate draws nearer, I have misgivings. Will unsympathetic government workers try to silence the gospel? Have the people even been told we are coming? How will they know when and where to congregate?

Yesterday the clothing had been carefully sorted and the large burlap bags arranged according to contents. However, the men who loaded the truck, with typical African disregard for organization and careful planning, have mixed up everything. Under their direction will the distribution as well succumb to a morass of disorder and confusion?

As we turn off the highway and begin the last stretch of our journey over rough, dusty roads, I commit these things to the God of order and design. I beseech the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort to cast Satan from his domain long enough to let the gospel go forth and to permit a little material relief for the suffering people in this afflicted land.

Twenty miles later, the truck with the clothing comes to a stop in an open area sheltered by a great tree. Suspended from one of the massive branches hangs a rusty old wheel. There are no huts, no villagers, not a soul to be seen.

The government worker climbs down from the truck and begins beating the wheel with a piece of iron rod. One can almost see the exclamation marks springing from the metal, filling the empty afternoon solitude and then drifting off to the far corners of the horizon.

For several minutes nothing happens, but then by one’s and two’s the refugees warily come forth from their grass huts hidden in the bush. The trickle turns into a stream, and soon there are 200 people standing silently round the truck. The government worker announces it is time to start the distribution. Wanting to keep first things first, I ask to say a few words in behalf of the donors.

I explain the clothing has been sent by Christians from a land far away. Of course then I have to explain that a Christian is one who serves Jesus Christ. Then I have to tell them who Jesus Christ is and how He came from God to save men from the suffering caused by sin in this life and in the life to come; how He sets men free not only from the penalty but also from the power of sin when they put their trust in Him, asking Him to come into their hearts and rule their lives; how the love of God constrains a Christian to do those things pleasing to God and beneficial to those around him, as the Christians in England were doing and how the people of Mozambique as well needed to have this God ruling their hearts and their land.

The people listen attentively to the Makua translation furnished by the government worker. By the time we are done there are perhaps 1000 refugees gathered round the truck.

Praising God from within for letting His message go forth, I turn things over to the church representatives and government worker who have come to supervise the distribution. Contrary to my expectations, everything is carried out in an orderly and efficient manner, though planning is done only on the spur of the moment.

The women and infants are formed into lines radiating out from the truck like spokes of a wheel, the men in other lines, and the children in still others. Then the workers station themselves at the head of each line with bags containing appropriate articles of clothing. All the women receive a dress as they file past, and the men get pants. The workers planned to pass out skirts and blouses as well, shirts to the men, and a coat and blanket to everyone, but a disturbance has arisen among the children. The smaller children who wait in line are being pushed aside by larger ones breaking through. Many mothers leave their positions to help their children wrangle for clothes. Disorder spreads rapidly, and soon it is impossible to continue because of tussling going on at the head of every line by people who refuse to wait their turn.

Some of the workers slip around to the far end of the lines and begin distributing clothes to the people waiting disconsolately from their places afar off. I also take a bag and begin handing out children’s clothes from the back of a line.

This works well for a while, but when the pushers and shovers discover what has happened they run to the new distribution points, bringing havoc and confusion with them.

Even as I write this more than two months later, several images from that day remain indelibly fixed in my mind. One is of a young mother, baby tied to her back, looking at me from two feet away, patiently waiting at the end of the line, eyes pleading for something with which to clothe her little daughter. I pull out a tiny dress. Someone snatches it away before I can pass it from the bag to her hand. I reach inside for another. Immediately it vanishes. A third and a fourth are ripped from my grasp by unruly women who fight over who gets the garment, tearing it in the process. After five unsuccessful attempts I close the sack and reluctantly make my way back to the truck.

The next image I recall is of the soldiers standing in the back of the truck, making whips from vines and lashing the people as they clamber over the sides. Next we are looking down at a desperate throng chasing after us, hands outstretched, some even hanging from the accelerating truck as it hastens toward the road, still over half full of undistributed clothing. Even as they shrink in the distance, the majority of refugees remain standing dejectedly in their lines, as if by doing so they can somehow make the clothing they so much needed reappear.

By this time, the exhilaration of sharing the gospel with such a vast crowd of people has already been swallowed up in the disappointment of seeing all given so quickly back into the hands of Satan. But my disappointment has not yet reached its nadir.

On the way out, the truck stops at the house of the local government official. He has killed some chickens and invites us to share a meal before we leave. Eagerly my church friends jump from the truck and follow him to the table. Now I am a bit bewildered, as just hours before they had vigorously declared the one thing they would not allow was for the clothing to fall into the hands of the government. Abandoning it now to the soldiers protection seems like asking foxes to guard the hen house. But the smell of roasting chicken has affected their judgment, for they assure me there is no cause for concern.

When we return from our meal of rice and chicken, things do not appear to have changed. The tarpaulin is pulled tightly down over the clothes, with the soldiers draping themselves bodily across that. But as we journey toward home, the night air turns cool and one by one the men begin donning their coats and jackets. But unlike the rest of their equipment, these are civilian coats they are wearing, some of them quite nice and unusually heavy for Mozambique.

Upon reaching the edge of the city, the driver stops while the soldiers drop from the truck to make their way through the darkness to their homes in the cane hut districts surrounding Nampula. As they leave, I notice their rucksacks, which have come out from nowhere, are fairly bursting at the seams. This is quite unusual since soldiers here typically have only a uniform, weapon, a few shells, and occasionally a canteen.

Finally we reach the warehouse where wearily we begin unloading the truck. As we pull back the tarpaulin, I am disappointed but not at all surprised at what I see. The bags have been bayoneted, the clothing ransacked, and the remaining jumble of material doesn’t warrant another attempt at distribution. There isn’t enough left to insure everyone would receive an acceptable piece of clothing.

Later that night, climbing the steps to our apartment, the question keeps echoing in my mind, “Why?” “Why does God let Satan have his way with these unfortunate souls? Why does He close His ear to the prayers of His own people made in their behalf and motivated for His glory?”

I am confident the scriptures hold the answer, but for now the only light that comes to my tired mind is the solemn warning of Christ in Luke 8:18 to take care how we respond to that light which we have already received, “For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” It is a hard concept to accept, especially when one sees it carried out before his very eyes. But like all of God’s word, it is irrefutably accurate.

Descent into Mozambique

Spring 1990 – Vol.6 – No.1

The South African Airways 737 touches down on the tarmac and coasts to a stop in front of a large, attractive concrete building that is the Maputo International Airport. Stepping through the door of the plane and down the jetway passengers are embraced by hot tropical air rushing up to greet them. By the time they have walked their carry-on bags to the terminal some 50 yards distant, moisture blown in from the Indian Ocean just a mile or so away has turned skin and hair into sticky fly paper that seems to trap every grain of sand and fleck of dirt wafting by.

Inside the building it is drier but still warm. Air conditioners hanging out many of the windows are like clouds without rain in a desert land. Only the metal cages are left. The inside parts have been removed.

Once through passport control and customs, a menagerie of battered cars wait to transport foreign guests to their destinations in the city nearby. The drivers are dressed to match their vehicles – in clothing old and worn. And these are the relatively well-to-do etrepreneurs of Maputo. After all, they own cars and earn real money from foreigners who pay in convertible currency.

My driver is friendly and helpful, like everyone I have met here. He loads the baggage and then secures the trunk lid with a piece of rope. The latch ceased functioning long ago, and like most things in Maputo, it cannot be replaced.

In the city the driver dodges his way down concrete streets, avoiding potholes while pedestrians avoid him. Like an old Mississippi riverboat pilot he knows exactly which side of every block is most navigable.

The scarred buildings to right and left are like the tree lined streets. Vestiges of colonial elegance are still discernible, but 15 years of crowding and hard use without the means of maintenance have converted them into dirty slums. Garbage service and trash cans are rare these days, so litter is everywhere.

Darkness settles on us as we make the rounds of hotels. Apparently none of them operate at full capacity due to the scarcity of linens, light bulbs, functioning sinks and toilets. In fact, there are so few rooms in the city that it is nearly two hours before we find a hotel with a bed to let, and Maputo is hardly a tourist center any more, though it once was. The desk wants ten dollars per night, paid in South African rand, in advance. The posted rates are closer to $4.50. But it’s easy to see they are desperate for real money, so I give him the rand and return to the taxi for my belongings.

The driver helps me haul the luggage through the narrow entrance way. It is crowded with people listening to African music coming from someone’s radio. Though they are friendly enough, I still feel distinctly out of place, being clean, white, and neatly dressed. Judging from the odor hanging in the air, it has been a long time since many of my fellow boarders have enjoyed the luxury of soap, daily baths, or clean clothes.

My room is on the fifth floor, so the driver and I begin the long climb up zig-zagging flights of stairs. Beyond the first landing I discover why so many of the guests were huddled down below. There are no more lights. Bulbs are too precious a commodity here to expend on halls and stairways.

On one landing I spy an elevator and ask the driver if he thinks it works. He laughs, but there is sadness in it.

Puffing and sweating in the darkness we count the flights and agree to rest on the fourth floor. Broken plumbing has converted a communal bathroom into an open sewer and I am glad to be moving on after exchanging loads with my friend.

On the fifth floor he leaves his bags on the landing and walks up to each door, his face only inches away, looking in the darkness for the one with my number. After finding it we manhandle the luggage the remaining few yards and I open the door, wondering if the inside will be any better than what I have seen on the outside.

I flip the light switch and a ten watt bulb comes on. It dangles over a bed. Like a neon sign, I can look directly at the orange filament without even squinting.

The walls are very dark. Either there are no windows, or they have been boarded over because of broken panes. More detailed information will have to wait till morning, when perhaps there will be enough light to see by.

The only furniture is the bed. There are linens on it, but the mattress sinks trough-like in the center. In view of this I wonder if I have found one of the better hotels. Certainly it has been much used.

I am almost surprised to see a private bathroom to my right. The door is gone, so I simply reach inside to turn on another light. In all my trips to Mozambique I have not seen a clean bathroom, but what I am looking at now is more than can be remedied by the sponge and Lysol carried in my bag. Something black is growing over the tub and toilet. For the first time I think of turning back.

Feeling hot and sticky like the people I left on the first floor, I try the faucets to check the water pressure. Nothing happens. Then I note the pail of water sitting in the tub and everything makes sense. How can these poor people clean the bathroom when there is no running water? For that matter, how will I clean it? Or clean myself?

My thoughts drift back to three hours earlier. I am seated comfortably aboard a modern, clean, air conditioned jetliner. A well groomed flight attendant serves complimentary snacks while passengers peruse the pages of the in-flight magazine. The luxuries of life in scenic South African resorts are carefully captured in photos and advertisements.

But now I am hot, sticky, and perspiring, standing in a dark, dirty room where I would likely spend the night without the prospect of either a bath or shower, or even flushing the toilet. The contrast is overwhelming, and only two hours into Mozambique I am wondering if that world left on the plane really exists, the world of comfort, air conditioning, elevators, cleanliness, and light.

For a moment I consider my options. Then slowly I turn off the switch, close the door, and pick up my bags. Behind me the driver does the same, reluctantly. But as we struggle down the steps, baggage in tow, the somber notes of an old hymn begin to echo in my mind. Slowly a question comes swirling out of the misty depths of those minor chords emerging into the light of consciousness.

Is this even close to what Christ experienced when He left the eternal throne in heaven to lie in a feed trough, to hang on a cross, to become sin for men that they might be made the righteousness of God in Him?

I’m thankful He didn’t consider His options.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly – minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

Rank on rank, the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

Does God Hear?

Spring 1990 – Vol.6 – No.1

“Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”
Jeremiah 33:3

One aspect of prayer that tests our maturity is the frequent lack of immediate gratification. So often we must wait weeks or months, and sometimes even years, to see the results of specific requests.

Did not Christ Himself have this in view when He emphasized that we ought always to pray and not to lose heart? Yet because of these delays, there are times when the answers come and we fail to take note of them. It may have been weeks since they were in our prayers. Only when we happen across an outdated prayer list are we struck with the faithfulness of God in answering so many petitions we had forgotten.

The results of prayer have other ways of slipping up on us. What seemed totally improbable at the time of our first request is a little more likely the next day, more so on the next, and so it goes until the thing is actually done. But by the time it occurs, it hardly seems remarkable at all and we have begun to think our own hard work more than prayer has accomplished it. Yet when we realize God as a rule works within the fabric of “normal” cause and effect, it seems natural that His answers should unfold by degrees as He gradually weaves them into His great tapestry.

Even when we experience immediate answers to the spontaneous prayers that fly from our lips in the course of daily activity, we often fail to take much note of it. The event gets buried in the blur of everything else that is occurring, and aside from a grateful sigh of relief that that is taken care of, we hasten on and do not reflect much on it.

We always spend less time thanking God for His help than we do asking for it. It is hardly surprising then that we are more conscious of the many requests still pending than we are of those which have already been granted. And so we unwittingly diminish one of the great incentives to prayer, namely the clear realization that God does hear, and does respond.

Over the past four and a half years, many prayer requests have appeared in the Evangel. But in accordance with the above tendency, God’s answers have not always received as much space as the requests. Looking through back issues it is amazing to behold how God has again and again heard and granted our requests, including some which seemed most improbable. The following information is shared with you, that as the petitions of many have ascended before His throne, so also manifold praise may now be offered to His name!

In the sixteen Evangels a total of 34 prayer requests have appeared, usually more than once. Of these, seven pertained to guidance at various stages along the way. We naturally assume God has heard and answered these requests. We would believe this whether the final outcome seemed favorable to us or not. However, the fact that we are still “on track” rather than in the ditch supports our conviction.

The results of five more requests can never be known. Either there is no clear way to measure them (e.g. spiritual maturity, growth in grace), or the information we need is lacking (e.g. God’s protection of pastors in Mozambique as they travel through dangerous war zones to nurture their scattered churches).

Three requests pertain to events still future – the safe passage of our container to Nampula, an African pastor with whom to work, and another family to join us in Mozambique.

This leaves nineteen specific requests which can be objectively evaluated. Of these, seventeen have been answered! Only two have not been granted in the providence of God – that He would bring an end to the war and the suffering it causes, and that He would end the famine, which today is due more to the effects of war than drought.

And so we return to the question posed in the headline of this article. Does God hear? Indeed He does, and how encouraging it is to pause and note His wonderful faithfulness. Truly it is a gracious God who rules the stars and receives the worship of angels, yet stoops to the cry of frail creatures of dust. May He receive from us the awe, the praise, and the thanks, due His name.

Postscript, 2004

The three requests mentioned three paragraphs above were all subsequently answered. The container arrived and nothing was damaged or stolen. Arnaldo Aquiles, the Muslim nurse introduced to me my first day at the hospital was saved, grew dramatically in the Lord, and became our national church leader! And we were finally joined by the Chiorinos in 2001.

The two requests mentioned two paragraphs from the end were also subsequently granted. The famine ended one year later after seven years duration. The civil war ended two years later, after 17 years duration.

That results in a positive response to 22 of 22 prayer requests listed in the Evangel from 1985 to 1990. Truly God inspires and answers the prayers of His children!

Scriptures on Prayer

Spring 1990 – Vol.6 – No.1

The following passages deal with various aspects of petitioning God. May we be encouraged and instructed by what they tell us about this most wonderful privilege.

Promises on Prayer:

“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”
Jeremiah 33:3

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8

Adjuncts to Prayer:

1) Having within us the mind of Christ, that our prayers may be in accordance with His will and thus be answered.

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
John 15:7

“And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
1 John 5:14-15

“And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”
Romans 8:27 (see v. 26 below)

2) Where God has clearly revealed His will, having faith that what He has promised He will indeed perform.

“But let Him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways.”
James 1:6-8 (on praying for wisdom)

3) Obedience to what God has already revealed of His will through scripture.

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
I John 3:22

“Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given, for he that hath, to him shall be given, and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”
Mark 4:24-25

4) Praying with others.

“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

5) Fervency in prayer, and unction of the Holy Spirit.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
James 5:16b

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Romans 8:26

Hindrances to Prayer.

1) Unforgiven sin, lack of salvation.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear.”
Isaiah 59:1-2

2) Unconfessed sin, unforsaken sin.

“If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
Psalm 66:18

3) Neglecting or spurning the scriptures.

“He who turns away His ear from listening to the law of the Lord, even his prayer is an abomination.”
Proverbs 28:9

“Then they will call on Me, but I will not answer; they will seek Me diligently, but they shall not find Me, because they hated knowledge.”
Proverbs 1:28-29

4) Insensitivity to the needs of others.

“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry Himself and not be answered.”
Proverbs 21:13

5) Marital discord, failure to honor wife.

“You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
I Peter 3:7

Seldom Early, But Never Late

Spring 1990 – Vol.6 – No.1

“In the fullness of time, God …”

Someone has observed that in the timing of our Lord, deliverance is seldom early, but never late. That certainly proved to be true in a small event associated with our move to Mozambique.

Though we wanted to take as little furniture as possible, Julie and I did decide to purchase a sofa/sleeper since it would make good use of the limited living space we expect to have. As we would be using it daily for both bed and sofa, we decided we should get the best quality item we could find within our means. In this purchase esthetic concerns would have to take a back seat to practical durability.

Unfortunately, the best sofa by far was a most unpleasant green, red, yellow, and brown conglomeration. Even I was appalled. But the saleswoman told us we could request the same model in a different fabric if we wished, though it would take six to eight weeks to have it made. At that point we still hadn’t heard from the Mozambique health officials and had no idea whether we would be leaving in a month or still waiting a year from now. So we made an agreement with the dealer that if she would order the custom made sofa, we would take her garish one in the event we left before ours arrived.

No sooner had we ordered the sofa than word came from Mozambique. Within two weeks we were scheduling a workday to load the container so it could be shipped. With some disappointment we arranged delivery of the ugly sofa, but because of rain the workday had to be put off till the following Saturday. So as a matter of convenience we asked the furniture store to postpone their delivery until the following Saturday as well.

To our surprise, on the ensuing Friday afternoon we received a telephone call from our saleswoman. She was flabbergasted. Our sofa had arrived just that afternoon, only hours before we were to begin loading the container and a mere three weeks to the day after she had ordered it! She said she had never had such a rapid response. In fact, comments about her previous experiences had kept me from even praying about the matter as it seemed we would be requesting a “miracle” in regard to a mere sofa.

But to homemakers these things are somewhat more important, and Julie and a sympathetic woman from church had been earnestly praying that God would deliver her from this eyesore. The fact that He did reminded us once again that though God is seldom early, He is never late. But more than that, we are thankful that in His abundant kindness He gives attention to even the small things that touch our lives.