Living with the Iso people in East Africa was challenging. Most were illiterate, poor and hungry. Harsh heat. Bad quality food. Cholera. Malaria. And most didn’t know Jesus as their Saviour. People were dying all the time, mostly from malaria and malnutrition.

Suffering people was a common sight in our village — suffering from sicknesses, the challenges of life, hopelessness. Whenever I saw little Bakari, it felt like my heart was ripped out. He was severely disabled — mentally and physically, and he couldn’t walk since birth. Never learnt to speak. He had to shift along on his bottom, sometimes even without pants — a truly heart-breaking sight to behold. His useless legs were as thin as bamboo sticks. And the other kids would make fun of him too.

Bakari

So we prayed. And when we have prayed until we didn’t have anything more to pray, we prayed some more. Nothing changed. I was confused at times. Why was God silent?

Before you call I will answer, while you are still speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

What about Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you”?

Didn’t God hear? Didn’t He care?

One day, while the small group of believers were celebrating the Lord's Supper, the women spontaneously began to sing in their language,

We won't stop praying until Bakari starts walking!

We won't stop praying until Bakari starts walking!

And then God did it. In the following week, Bakari was chosen “at random” for treatment at the local hospital — this was nothing short of a miracle! I call it a ‘God-incidence’ not a ‘coincidence’.

A few months later, the impossible happened. He took his first steps. Hope broke through and for the first time, we saw him smiling and playing with the other children. Still not talking, and walking laboriously, his whole demeanour changed.

My idea of a miracle up to that point was an instantaneous healing, a powerful deliverance, a timely breakthrough:

We saw it many times when we showed the Jesus film at evangelistic outreaches. If it rained we wouldn’t be able to show the film and people wouldn’t have the opportunity to hear the Good News. So, when stormy weather showed up we would pray and miraculously there would be no rain in the area where we showed the film, often with a wall of black clouds, lightning and thunder right around us. Sometimes we would have clear skies with stars brightly shining above us, while it is pouring with rain on the outskirts of the field we were in.

Praying for a comatose child with severe malaria and then seeing her playing in the street a while later.

God keeping our top-heavy off-road vehicle upright when we hit a bad corrugated road and it went 90 degrees to the side. After just screaming ‘Jesus!’ the car suddenly was straight back on the road again.

Praying for Bakari, I envisioned something similar — him getting up, walking and speaking in an instant. But God showed us a different way.

We won't stop praying until Bakari starts walking!

We won't stop praying until Bakari starts walking!

I knew the circumstances in that village — him being chosen so suddenly for treatment was a miracle. That was God’s answer to our prayers.

Keep on praying for your miracle, for your breakthrough. And look out — maybe God has answered you already — just in a different way you imagined.

Reflections

Romans 12:12, Be joyful in hope, patient in trouble, persistent in prayer. [NIV]

Habakkuk 3:17-18, Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. [NIV]