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Post  Admin on Mon 02 Feb 2009, 9:56 pm

DEDICATING AN UNBORN CHILD

Mother lay in bed, twisting the sheet in her thin, frail hands.

It was the beginning of the Great Depression and things couldn't have been
worse. Daddy had been laid off from his job at the railroad, they were
struggling to make their mortgage payments, and with four other children
ages 8, 6, 4 and 1½, Mother was pregnant again.

This time her morning sickness seemed to last all day. Blood tests proved
she had pernicious anemia that made her too weak to even hold her youngest
toddler.

A longtime friend came every day to care for the children and prepare the
meals. She was a godsend and Mother and Daddy couldn't thank her enough.

Late that afternoon, Mother called Daddy into the bedroom. "I believe I'm
about to miscarry, "she whispered hoarsely. Daddy responded as he always did
by kneeling by her bed, holding her hand and praying fervently.

In spite of their dire circumstances, Mother and Daddy could not bear to
lose a child. It was unthinkable. Each life was precious in the sight of God
and therefore precious to this devout couple.

During the last year, visiting missionaries had spoken at the church Mother
and Daddy attended. So impressed were my parents with the scope of the
missionaries' work that they desperately wanted to contribute to the
offerings designated for their ministries. The problem was, they had no
money.

After considerable discussion, they decided to give Mother's gold wedding
ring toward the missionaries' support. It was not an easy decision, but not
one they never regretted and which had far-reaching effects.

Now as Mother lay on her bed, with evidence that she might soon miscarry,
she and Daddy dedicated the unborn baby to the Lord, asking that if God so
chose, the child might one day be called to Africa as a Christian
missionary.

As the days and weeks went by, Mother passed the crisis and their healthy
baby, their fifth child, was born. Wisely, Mother and Daddy never told their
daughter, Norma, about their dedication until years later.

Norma was not only a strong baby physically but grew into a strong-willed
child. As a teenager, she went through a rebellious stage that prompted
Mother and Daddy to double their prayers for Norma. Still, they persevered
in prayer.

One day when Norma was still a teenager, she made a life-changing decision
to commit her life to Jesus Christ. Like Saul of Tarsus, Norma never looked
back, never changed her mind and never strayed from the path she felt God
had chosen for her. So, it was a tearful time of thanks and praise when
Norma announced to Mother and Daddy one day that God had called her to be a
missionary to Africa. Only after her plans were complete and Norma was sure
of her calling did Mother and Daddy tell her of their dedication prayer
before her birth.

Norma graduated from Bible College and married her fiancé, Andy, who was
also preparing for missionary service in Africa. Arriving in Guinea, West
Africa, Andy began building schools, churches and missionary homes while
learning the language and preaching through an interpreter. Norma involved
herself in Bible translation and working with the native women.

After eight years of marriage and still childless, Norma was diagnosed with
cancer. So grave was the prognosis, that it was determined she only had
about three months to live.

Norma and Andy immediately returned to the United States where oncologists
in a New York hospital confirmed through extensive tests and x-rays that
Norma did indeed have cancer in her abdomen. But before any treatment or
surgery could begin, God performed a miracle of healing in her body.

She had tenaciously held on to Psalm 118:17,18, "I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore; but he
hath not given me over unto death," and God had honored her steadfast faith.

Returning to Africa, God blessed them with three children born two years
apart. All three later graduated from Seminary. Two of them returned to
Africa as missionaries and the other joined the staff of a large church in
the Northeast.

Norma and Andy were able to complete over 35 years of missionary service in
Africa before their retirement.

Mother and Daddy's sacrificial gift of her gold wedding band to support
foreign missions would reap great benefits. But even more, their dedication
of their unborn baby to God, their exemplary lives and their unshakeable
faith resulted in their daughter, Norma, becoming an outstanding missionary,
wife and mother in West Africa.

While some might have immediately accepted a miscarriage as God's will in
desperate circumstances, Mother and Daddy viewed it as an opportunity for
God to show His power and His will. They entered into a covenant with God
which He abundantly honored.

The blessings of God are indeed passed on to our children and to our
children's children.

...Mariane Holbrook by way of "Christian Voices" (www.ChristianVoice sWorldwide. com) Mariane is a
retired teacher, an author of two books, a musician and artist. She lives
with her husband on coastal North Carolina.
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