Eleanor made her way to the simple concrete church in Guinea, West Africa where she had served as a missionary with her husband, Andy, for over eight years.
Sitting at her usual place near the front of the church, she looked around at the nearly 100 faces smiling back at her. She had helped deliver some of their babies and taught hygiene classes to the women . She had translated four books of the New Testament into the Fula language and every morning taught reading classes for young and old alike.
Eleanor was born to be a missionary to Africa. Before her birth, her parents dedicated her to God, asking that He use her for missionary work in Africa if He so willed. Wisely, she wasn’t told of this dedication until after she had graduated from Bible College and made the announcement.
”Mother, I have something wonderful to tell you and Daddy,” she called to them upstairs. “God has called me to be a missionary to Africa and has confirmed it tonight by His word.”
Only then did Eleanor’s parents tell her of their dedication prayer before she was born. This only added to her strong conviction that God was leading her to Africa.
Sitting now in the mission church that Andy and several African men had built, Eleanor asked God for wisdom. She knew she must talk to these beloved brothers and sisters in Christ and she wanted her words to bring glory to Jesus.
Tabitta, sitting several rows behind Eleanor, turned to her husband, Keita, and whispered, “I wonder if Pastor has told her she only has three months to live.” For compassion’s sake, Andy had not told his wife.
Indeed, Eleanor did have cancer. Doctors in Monrovia had diagnosed the large mass in her abdomen as a malignant tumor and instructed her to return to the United States for immediate surgery.
After some congregational singing, Andy told the large group of believers that his wife wanted to address them.
Eleanor stood and faced the dear, familiar faces. “As you know, we will be returning to the States for surgery to remove the cancer in my abdomen. I have appreciated your expressions of love and prayers since you first heard the news. But I don’t want you to grieve. God has given me two wonderful promises in 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.’
“We will be gone for a while but we’ll return. There are many things we’ve been able to begin with your help and we believe God will see them through to completion. God bless you. I love you, every one of you.”
The head deacon of the church asked if they could spend the rest of the service around the altar with Eleanor, anointing her with oil and praying for a complete healing miracle from God. It was a time of weeping, of praise, of singing, of prayer, as the Holy Spirit covered the congregation with a glorious sense of His presence and gave them an even greater love for each other.
Eleanor and Andy arrived at New York’s Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center three days later to begin extensive testing.
Doctors confirmed that there was a large malignant mass in her stomach. Surgery was scheduled for three days hence. Eleanor and Andy spent those days in fasting and prayer.
Two days before surgery, Eleanor woke Andy who was sleeping soundly beside her.
“God has given me another verse. It’s Psalm 113:9: ‘He maketh the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children.’ I can’t let the surgeons remove my reproductive organs if I’m to have children!”
The morning of the surgery, more tests were conducted to pinpoint the mass. Shortly, one of the doctors burst into Eleanor’s hospital room. “I know there was a mass there last week because several of my colleagues and I felt it and saw it on x-rays and biopsies. Today, there is no sign of it. Your surgery is cancelled.”
Andy sent a wire to the American Embassy in Conakry, Guinea requesting that it be hand-delivered to the little church outside of town where members had gathered to fast and pray.
“God answered your prayers. Performed mighty miracle. Eleanor healed. Returning to you, our beloved church, on Friday.”
And one year later, the first of the couple’s three children was born!
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