This week I’ve been editing Kate Patterson’s lovely new book, Living for Eternity, which is all about knowing God, the One who is with us now, and the One we will be with in Eternity. In Chapter 8, I came across a story about George Müller and the orphanage he ran:
It is striking that so many of the great heroes of faith understood that lavish provision is central to the eternal character of God. George Müllerwas one. He rescued and educated close to ten thousand orphans from poverty in Bristol before his death in 1898. Despite having no guaranteed source of income, he took in child after child because he trusted that the God who gave us his Son will never withhold what we need but will graciously give us all things along with Christ. (Romans 8:32)
There were many days when supplies ran low and money ran out. One day, the housemother of the orphanage told George that the children were up and dressed but there was nothing for breakfast. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and to tell them to sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. He had woken in the night and decided to bake three batches of bread for the orphanage.
Soon, there was another knock at the door. The milkman’s cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He asked if they could use some free milk as it would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He brought in ten large cans of milk – enough for 300 thirsty children!
These three short paragraphs brought a smile to this editorial desk, because it reminded me of a story in another of our books, The Accidental Social Entrepreneur, and took me back to the visit to Kenya we made just over two years ago. We try to check out every book that we publish, and Grant Smith’s story seemed so remarkable that we decided to get on a plane and see for ourselves. We rather enjoyed this particular piece of due diligence at Muddy Pearl!
The story turned out to be even more remarkable than I had imagined, and I had to press the author to put in more detail. And so it happened that one Sunday we found ourselves, after joining in a very enthusiastic children’s church service, sitting in the kitchen of New Hope children’s home eating the most delicious samosas, with Anne. Anne is a retired Kenyan bank manager who, along with her husband, had always wanted a big family (be careful what you pray for) and so at that time there were around 100 or so at New Hope who called her ‘Mum’. Anne told us the story about the Ugali, and the time there was no more food. Not a scrap. Here is a wee extract from that book:
…Daniel is one of the 100 or so who sleep in the spotless but simple dormitories at New Hope, who wear mismatched clothing and play football outside on the grass after school and after dinner. And yes, there is dinner every night – it’s a miracle, and it’s life – every night there is dinner.
However, if you press her, Anne will tell you that there was one night, 17 years ago, when the girls on kitchen duty came to her and said that there was nothing left: no more food and no more maize for the flour to make Ugali. So Anne said,
Still put the water on to boil in the kitchen; the Lord will provide.
So the girls put the enormous pans of water on to boil – it took some time as they were very large. Anne prayed,
Lord, these are your children. I’m not going to send them to bed hungry. Please would you send food for them.
And just as the water was beginning to boil, there was a knock on the door. A nearby school was going away on a trip for the holidays and had not wanted to waste their leftover food. They knew there was an orphanage nearby and determined to find it. They brought sacks of maize flour and oil, and the children all ate well that night.
How amazing our eternal Father is. But also, how unchanging. It’s an entirely different context, a different continent, a different century, but the lovely familiar handprint of our Lord on this story is unmistakeable. Our eternal Father, with us now and forever.
Find out more about Grant’s charity Hand in Hand on Facebook.