At her 100th birthday celebration in London, Sheila shared some stories from her time in India and Bangladesh.
What was it like to go cross culturally 80 years ago? For those of you who have gone more recently, how do these stories compare to your experiences? What can you relate to? What has changed and what hasn’t? Let’s hear some of her stories.
“The first 5 years I was in India, the rains failed: wells were drying up, palm trees were falling over (which was very unusual) and whole villages didn’t have any water, cattle were dying and villagers were moving out to places to try and find water. Little children were abandoned (as they didn’t work, weren’t useful and were too much of a burden for the family to look after). So we had more children than normal in the home. Then the well in our compound ran dry. Matron tried sending some of older girls into town to get water but they were driven away. Do you remember the Bible story of Elijah asking the widow for food when she only had 1 meal left? True? 1 Kings 17. Well, I know it’s true, when we prayed about our need for water, God sent just enough water in the well to meet everyone’s needs for 1 day (if they were all careful with how they used the water). Each night it was empty and each morning there was enough for 1 day. For about three months we saw this miracle until the rains came further upstream and everyone got water back again.
We knew of God’s provision.
Later on the buses would no longer pick us up because we were Christians. One day I was driving a car load of preachers home from some villages and had to cross a river which was mostly dry but would fill up with water very quickly. It had an “Irish bridge”, i.e. a smooth, cemented route in the rocky river bed which wasn’t visible when water covered it. The rest of the river consisted of large rocks and the banks dipped steeply into it. I was driving slowly as the brakes had failed but when I got to the river, it was full of water and in the middle was a bullock cart which had got stuck. I couldn’t stop the car so had to go down the bank, praying that I wouldn’t hit anyone. Then I heard a voice saying “go into the river right here”. I obeyed and left the bridge, got round the cart and up the other side. Some days later, we went back and the water was gone. We realised that the only place where we could have gone into the water and avoided the rocks was where I heard the voice.
We knew of God’s protection.”