Aunt Lil was a big lady
No; not big in size, tall or wide, but in ability to cope. Lil was my father’s eldest sister. He had three brothers and two sisters. It was aunties Lillian and Grace who came to our family’s aid when mom died and dad was in hospital. We were all older then and only the two younger ones were not yet wed. Nephews are helpless in a crisis so Lil took over and ran the home like a fine tuned violin.
I was already pastoring in Queenstown and earlier mom and dad had visited us. During their visit mom remembered her childhood days during the great depression, when her parents were ‘bywooners’ (share farmers) in Colesberg nearby. Mom’s parents were Huguenots and had become Pentecostal Christians which dad thought was wrong. That was why they were forbidden to speak to us kids,
We thought it was just because they could only speak Dutch and we only English with a smattering of Afrikaans.
Mom told me that Uncle Bill, her brother, who was a boilermaker with the South African Railways, had once fallen into the boiler of a steam engine that was fully fired up. His workmates got him out and he was completely healed because they prayed for him. There was evidence of this because no hair grew on his badly scalded body ever again.
You can understand why I was so puzzled later when my father’s older brother, uncle John lived with us for some months while he was slowly dying of emphysema and no one was asked to pray for him. Were there two Christian Gods? I knew more by now for at the age of twenty-two I too became a dreaded Pentecostal and was now a pastor.
Mom suffered a stroke while staying with us and recovered sufficiently to rededicate her life. After they returned home she had a relapse and died while dad was ill in hospital. Enter Aunt’s Lil and Grace to care for the family, I was there to conduct mom’s funeral and my wife and I visited Dad in hospital.
Talking to the Hospital sister I came to realize that dad had cancer of the stomach and I offered to pray for his healing.
“Leave me alone, I don’t believe in that rubbish,” he replied, “If you really think it works pray for that man opposite. He has a heart disease and only two days to live.”
I walked over to the man, “Excuse me sir,” I said, “ I offered to pray for my father because I believe God still heals today but he wants none of it. He said I should pray for you, do you mind?”
“Not at all young man.” He responded. I laid my hands on him and prayed for his complete healing. The next day we visited dad again and found the man apparently fully recovered. On asking, he told me that he expected to go home in the next few days and his doctor was amazed.
“See Dad, prayer works, don’t you remember uncle Bill, mom’s brother?”
“Leave me alone I told you I don’t believe in that.” My dad replied.
We continued to visit dad every day and the day for mom’s funeral arrived, We had no music but I insisted on singing one of my mother’s favorite hymns. After the funeral aunt Lil commented, “I had made up my mind that I would not sing, but when Bill started I just joined in.” I’m no singer,
After the funeral I took my two aunties to visit dad, they wanted to say goodbye because they were going home the next day. There we stood around dad’s bed while they said their farewells.
When It was time to go I said, “Aunt Lil’, do you think I should pray for dad’s healing?”
Before he could offer any argument she replied, “Yes, we want to see him again.”
Dad was morosely silent as I laid hands on him and prayed. The Aunties went home, dad was healed and we stayed long enough to see him back home. My father still resisted giving his life to God at that time, but I am glad to be able to report that he surrendered before he died. That’s another tale that words don’t permit here.
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