As I drew near the sixth village on my trip, I sensed that something was wrong. People were huddled together, talking in low tones, glancing accusingly at each other.
I introduced myself to them. "Greetings, I am the bearer of Good News, that-" A small man interrupted me. "Well, we have only bad news here right now." With ill-concealed irritation, he explained, "A couple has just had their baby stolen."
I asked to see the couple, but the people just said to me, "Go away. We don't want you here. Stop pestering us and move on."
Tears sprang into my eyes. Should I shake the dust from my sandals and move on? Or should I strive with them a while?
"Please take me to the couple," I pleaded with the villagers. "I may be able to help."
Reluctantly, they took me to the cottage of the unfortunate couple. I stepped inside the house to find both husband and wife staring at me. Other villagers crowded at the doorway.
There was silence. The couple's grief hung in the air. I said, "I'm so sorry to hear about your plight, but I know Someone who may help. Let me pray to Him."
There was no reaction on the couple's faces, so I went into my prayer, feeling very uncomfortable indeed. Suddenly the young husband spoke. "Shut up and go away. We have prayed to our gods and nothing has happened. Why should yours be any different?" I was grabbed from behind by the other villagers and propelled out of the village.
I wandered the hills in a daze of humiliation and tears. "Lord, have I prayed in vain?" I shouted. Then I began to think a little about Christmas. The Son of God had come to a world knowing He would be despised, kicked, beaten, misunderstood, and finally crucified. Yet He still came.
Kneeling there in the snow, I knew what I had to do. I had to go back to that village. This was to follow in the Master's footsteps. He had the courage. So must I.
Yet I quaked with fear. Those villagers had handled me very roughly. My arms and shoulders were still sore. With a pounding heart, I turned and began to walk slowly back toward the village. What would I say?
Suddenly, in the still afternoon air, I heard a baby's cry. I headed toward the sound. There was the cry again, coming from what appeared to be an old well shaft. I reached the shaft. Six feet down was a little baby, wrapped in a thick blanket, lying at the bottom of the dry well.
"Lord I praise you," I shouted into the well. The baby was blue in the face, and I climbed down to hug some warmth back into it.
I walked back to the village with the precious bundle of life clasped to my breast. The villagers came running. They were amazed and overjoyed. Loving hands led me to the cottage of the poor couple, and the smile on the mother's face as I placed the baby into her lap was unforgettable.
The couple believed in Jesus that night, and I learned a great lesson.
Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 187,189.
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