Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: INDEFATIGABLE (02/11/16)
- TITLE: No More Scowls
By Pat Small
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Orphaned. Mother died when I was three.
A neighbor cared for me temporarily. No one was willing or able to take on a toddler. Eventually, an aunt from the backwoods of Missouri surfaced. She raised me until I was a teenager.
We could have written the book on poverty. I remember vividly the day one of my schoolmates said, “What a pretty dress, Eleanor. I believe it once was Marcia’s.” "Yeah, and it looked better on her too,” sniped another.
I slunk off to a corner of the schoolyard, wishing I could disappear. Why did they have to say anything at all? Nothing would have been better than their gloating.
The only time I felt worthy of using up oxygen on the planet was receiving a teacher’s compliment on my good grades, finding a star on my paper, or a “well done” scrawled across the top of an assignment.
I wore bitterness and anger like a cloak; a scowl was my trademark. What was there to smile about anyway? Nevertheless, I did feel proud the day I walked onto college grounds at the age of fifteen. The riverside campus was lovely, with sweet smelling magnolias and cottonwoods along its banks. It calmed my soul. So did the Christian atmosphere. I had no real concept of God. If anything, I could not see why He would put me in such horrible circumstances.
My grades were great; my wallet was slim, my closet filled with ill-fitting castoffs from yesterday’s fashions. I found employment and studied hard. The beauty of the location, the pats on the shoulder and the smiles were Gospel seeds planted in my fertile mind. I wondered. Did God have a plan for me as the prophet Jeremiah promised? "For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.(Jer. 29:11 Holman’s) I accepted Him as my Savior. Slowly, the conviction grew that He wanted me to be a medical missionary in a hard place. After all, my difficulties could serve as preparation for an even harder place.
I enrolled in nurse’s training, but my instructors felt I was aiming too low. “You’d make a wonderful doctor, Eleanor,” they encouraged. I transferred to medical school, studying, working, living in a drafty attic. Pulling my sweater tighter around me, I stirred my oatmeal. Nourishment and warmth.
In 1894, I finally arrived in China. Doctors were needed so badly I divided my time between studying the language and practicing medicine. Smiling into little faces as I prepared to give them a shot calmed us both.
Four years later, I opened a new medical work about three hundred miles upriver where I opened a clinic alone. Inpatient and outpatient care all fell on my shoulders. After eight years on the field, the mission board insisted I return to the States for some R&R. Obviously, they did not know me very well. I began additional medical training. The Lord demanded the best we could give our Chinese friends. I also gave many missionary talks to enlist prayer support, recruit personnel, and raise funds for equipment and medicines.
About a year later, I was back. Now I had help. Other missionaries had arrived. Very few Chinese had come to the Lord. They continued in their idolatry, utilizing a shed on our compound for their festivals. “It must be removed from mission property,” thundered the missionary. This incensed the people. An angry mob arose.
I ran into town, begging officials for help, then back to the clinic. The group attacked the missionaries while I was gone. I believed all five had been massacred, but I ran to their aid. Rough hands grabbed me. I escaped their grasp, and sat down for a minute.
Noticing a small boy with a large gash in his forehead,I went to him, tore a piece from my dress, and bandaged his little head as well as I could.
Eleanor’s kind act did nothing to dispel the mob’s anger. As soon as she released the child, they grabbed her again, and threw her in the river. A knife wielding man jumped in after her, and stabbed her repeatedly. Shortly they dragged her out and laid her on the riverbank.
No more out of date clothing, scowls, or oatmeal. All is smiles!
(Based on “A Martyr’s Grace” by Marvin J. Newell, Moody Publishers, Chicago.)
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