Project Canterbury


-- by --


Deaconess in the Diocese of Waiapu


Being Scenes from Her Life:


Some Thoughts on the Nature of Prayer.

(Written in her 81st year.)

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2009



In this my little book I am looking back to the time when I was seventeen years of age and a teacher in a well organised Sunday School of over three hundred children. From time to time a missionary used to come to tell us something of his work in Melanesia. This we all found to be very interesting, although it was not so much Melanesia or the heathen there that interested me as the fact of this missionary's complete assurance of the Presence of God with him and of God's wonderful care and guidance which one saw was given to him in his life full of difficulty and danger. This just thrilled me and I prayed that God would send me to Melanesia as a missionary, for I so wished to have a share of the wondrous experience of this missionary.

However, I became a sufferer from asthma, and thus all thought of Melanesia was out of the question. After several years a doctor by chance saw me and gave me some advice which I carried out and which, to my great joy, resulted in a cure. I was again able to think of Melanesia--my first thought being how to fit myself to be of use there. Finally I decided to become a nurse. When I mentioned this to a retired hospital sister she laughed, saying, "You! I give you six months for you would not be able to stand up to such hard work." In spite of this I applied and was accepted, rather doubtfully, as the matron did not think me to be quite strong enough. At the end of six months I was better in health than I had been for a long time and had gained a stone in weight. That sister, may have made a mistake regarding my bodily strength, but she had made no mistake in telling me that it would mean very hard work; in addition [1/2] to the hard physical work, there were many other difficulties to be overcome. After three years I became a fully qualified nurse, and also the winner of the mayor's prize for the best all-round nurse. After another year at the hospital, feeling very much the need of a rest, I resigned.

Shortly after this I received from my brothers a gift of a return ticket to London to enable me to gain further experience in a London hospital. This led to my mind becoming so absorbed in the art of nursing and in planning what pleasure I could have during my spare time that my spiritual life suffered. One morning whilst deep in thought about my own desires, I seemed to hear God's Voice saying, "I want you." Immediately my whole outlook changed and I was filled with joy such as I had never known before. I now began to pray that God would make His Will plain to me regarding my going to Melanesia. But three problems presented themselves and became securely fixed in my mind--first, I was not good enough; second, I was not suitable; third, I was too old.

One day shortly after this a friend asked me if I were thinking of going to Melanesia. I replied, "Why ask me such a question?"

"Because," she said, "when you went away to train as a nurse, I prayed that God would lead you to offer yourself for work there." The following Sunday I went to the 11 a.m. Service in the place where I had gone for a short holiday. The theme of the vicar's address was the call of God to St. Paul. Looking straight in my direction, he said, "God wants you and you say that you are not good enough. Who ever was good enough to do God's work? And you say that you are not suitable. Who made you the judge? And you say that you are too old. How do you know?"

Strange to say that, moved as I was at this, God's answer to my Prayer, all my desire to go to Melanesia went from me; and I decided that I would take up some other work for God when I returned from my holiday I went to a Church in Wellington and offered myself as a Parish Worker. The vicar sat in silence for a moment and then turned to me and said, "What about Melanesia?"

[3] I replied, "Are workers needed there?"

He said, "Nurses are very much needed there,"

My reply to this was, "I will go to Melanesia."

Then I mentioned that it had been arranged for me to go to London for further nursing experience but that I was willing now to go to Melanesia.

To this came his command, "No: go to London and gain the extra experience."

While I was in London the first World War broke out and I then felt my duty was to offer my services in connection with the war.

However, as the general feeling was that the war would be over in six months, and also as a thousand nurses were already waiting to be called up, I withdrew my name.

I then called to see the secretary of the Melanesian Mission to ask whether the Mission would be able to increase its staff during the war. I was told very decidedly they would not be able to accept offers for work in Melanesia, as there was bound to be some falling off in the funds. Just as I was about to leave, up came the Bishop of Rochester (the Right Reverend J. R. Harmer) who had overheard our conversation and said quickly to the secretary, "What are you talking about! Of course we shall continue to take offers."

Turning to me, he asked, "What work are you seeking to do there?"

Upon being told, he replied, "Go--you will be much needed.''

When I returned to New Zealand I found that the Mission Ship had just left for the Islands and that it would be six months before her return. Now came, in a wonderful way, the opportunity for me to receive some spiritual preparation from a very capable Deaconess in the Diocese of Waiapu.

Finally I found myself watching the ropes being cast off from the "Southern Cross", and soon we were steaming out of the harbour, bound at last for Melanesia.


Now I must try to give you some idea of life on a mission ship. I found another nurse on board who, like myself, was going to the hospital in the Solomons. Our cabins were very small but the bunks were very comfortable. There was also a very small saloon which we were expected to use instead of the main saloon; the native men and women never sat together in their own Meeting Houses and therefore would not understand our doing so. One of our clergy asked a native what he thought of the white men eating with their women. "Well, you are white people and are quite mad in some ways," was what his reply amounted to.

Soon the Bishop (the Right Reverend C. J. Wood) came and told us that we would be given two days to get over our sea-sickness, after which there would be plenty of work--stores would need to be made up ready for dropping at the various ports of call; among the crew were several natives suffering from tropical sores which needed frequent attention; altar linen had to be laundered; also there were of course Morning and Evening Services, so our time was filled.

Our first port of call was Norfolk Island. Here we dropped mails and stores, and took on some cargo part of which consisted of cows, some fowls, and two pigs, which were to be presented to two chiefs on our way. Owing to limited space it was necessary for the animals to be kept very near our quarters--the cows were penned outside our cabins, the fowls on our roof, and the pigs at the extreme end of the stern. So off we went, the pigs announcing our farewell to the folk on shore. Our "particular cargo" did not prove to be as unpleasant as you might imagine; on the other hand it was rather amusing at times, especially when we opened our porthole and saw the long tongue of a cow coming through and trying to get hold of our cotton curtains as a change of diet.

A few more days and we were making another call at a village where Miss Hardacre had been stationed for a great number of years; it was very interesting to see how watchful the people were and how anxious to assist her in any way [4/5]--one certainly felt the aptness of the title "nature's gentlemen". Although Miss Hardacre lived alone and rarely saw another white woman, she was very happy and had no desire to change her way of living. After dropping stores and mails we were soon off again, for the Southern Cross was expensive to run and no time must be wasted.

Another few days of sailing and we reached our next port of call. Here a native teacher was stationed; in the village had been built a school and a small leaf church which were the visible signs of progress. I took with me a supply of a remedy for tropical sores and soon began treating some of the boys, which pleased them much. I told them that we wanted grass for some big pigs on board--I had to call them "pigs" for the only animals they knew of were pigs and dogs. The boys soon came along with their arms full of reed grass: I invited them to come with me; upon seeing the cows they were filled with terror but when they saw me stroking them and giving them some of the grass, they mustered up their courage and came close and took stock of the cows, their faces being a study.

The next call was at a more or less heathen village where a native Christian teacher had been placed some months previously. The men stood on the shore awaiting our arrival and a group of women was further along the beach. I made my way towards the women and sat down among them. They were tilled with curiosity and were specially interested in my hair--theirs being very fuzzy and no doubt they had not seen straight hair before. I removed my hat which brought forth great exclamations; my shoes were the next objects of interest. I noticed the women making a remark over and over again and I felt that I ought to show complete agreement. Presently I saw the Bishop close by and he asked me if I knew what they were saying. When I said that I had not the least idea, he told me that they were saying, "You are very beautiful." I had come ashore in a clean cotton frock and a large sun hat and to these Melanesian women it appeared that l had dressed for this occasion in a very special way and that therefore it was right and proper for them to make such a remark. For my part, I felt I ought to go back to the ship and apply myself [5/6] to learning their language to prevent further misunderstanding.

Steaming on, we came to the island of San Cristoval where the Rev. W. W. Durrad was in charge of a large boys' school. The path to the school was ablaze with hibiscus flowers of various colours but we were able to spend little time gazing at their glory for to our surprise we heard the Southern Cross's whistle recalling us all. The reason for this sudden summons was that the wind had risen and a storm, which proved to be a hurricane, was coming. A haven was found behind a small island but the wind changed and we were in danger of being driven upon a huge reef. Another anchor was lowered but still we drifted towards the reef: my companion and I acknowledged that we were terrified, and we went quietly to an empty cabin, off the saloon, to pray. About 4 p.m. the captain came to tell us that the wind was still rising and that if he pulled up the anchors it was hard to say whether the engines could possibly make headway against such a gale, or whether the steering gear would stand the strain which would be put upon it, He said, "Before I pull up the anchors get together and offer up some prayers." The little Sanctuary was opened and we all joined in prayer, we sang the hymn, "Eternal Father, strong to save," and during this we could hear the anchors being drawn up. I felt that all my fear had left me and I could see that my companion, too, felt quite calm--in fact we were now able to realise that our Lord was present on board with us and therefore there was no need to fear anything; so off I went to the kitchen and made a big pot of tea and found some biscuits; this was greatly welcomed as no one had had anything to eat or drink since the night before,. A little later on we saw to our relief that we were getting well away from the dreaded reef. The wind dropped during the night and by morning the hurricane was over.

We then steamed back to the island of San Cristoval to see how the people there had fared; they were greatly relieved to see us as they had been very anxious for our safety. The damage on this island was great; in the villages not a native house was left standing, and fallen trees were to be seen everywhere; the gardens, too, were utterly [6/7] destroyed--this meant the loss of their main food supply which would lead to a famine. However, we were fortunately able to get word to Australia and soon a ship arrived, laden with supplies.

At our next port of call the people were entirely heathen, so, taking some gifts of coloured beads and red calico, we made our way to the village, which consisted of a number of huts built very close together and surrounded by a palisade of high tree trunks to keep out enemies. I had never before felt anything to be so utterly depressing as the atmosphere of that village--in the faces of all was to be seen a look of intense fear which never left them. Our Lord said, "I will go before you." If it were not so, how could any missionary teach the heathen to understand the Gospel-story and to realise the meaning of love? But Christ does go before His servants and guides them, enabling them to reveal Him and His Love to darkened minds. The people of the village that I have just mentioned have no word in their language for "love" or for "thanks". This makes us think of Bishop Patteson's method of taking two boys to live for two years in a Christian school. Usually the only boys available were unwanted orphans, who were undernourished and suffering from tropical sores. One cannot imagine a greater contrast, between the daily life in their village and that at the school; in the village there was never any intercourse between them and boys of another tribe except to engage in a fight; at school these boys saw other boys, belonging to various tribes, living together as friends; lights went out at night and all lay down happily in the dark to sleep without any sign of fear. All this was beyond the understanding of these "stranger boys" but as they learnt of the Power of the Holy Spirit, gradually their outlook changed; and when they returned to their own village the people found it difficult to believe that they were the same boys. What a story of life in a Christian School these boys would tell! Thus they give to their own people the first glimpse of the God of Love and of the Power of the Holy Spirit.

In the early days islanders had been forcibly taken to work in the Queensland sugar plantations. Later a law forbade this practice and compelled all employing such [7/8] labourers to return them to their homes. Wherever possible missionaries had taught these natives on the plantations and many of them were Christians when they returned. Some men had been taken to the plantations from a certain island where the people were dangerous heathen. So the Bishop asked for someone to offer to shepherd the Christians returning to this island. One of the smallest and most gentle of men offered to go; more than once his life was threatened but still he carried on, gladly and fearlessly, until at length he received word of his transfer to another island in the Mission. When knew that I was going ashore at this particular island I naturally felt somewhat excited about meeting these people; on landing, I noticed an old woman sitting apart and looking very sad; I sat down beside her and asked her why she was so sad.

"Because," she said, "you are taking away our father."

I reminded her that there was a time when the islanders sought to take his life and asked her if she would tell me why they had spared him and were now all grieved at his departure. The following is what she told me:--

"Things causing us much trouble had been happening, and we felt that the spirits were angry with us because we were allowing a white man to live in our midst; so it was decided that he must be killed, and a group of men, armed with spears and arrows, went out after him. Soon they saw the missionary walking ahead of them; sensing their presence, he turned and faced them and then began to walk calmly towards them. This greatly amazed them and as he continued to come nearer, they dropped their weapons and fled. As they approached their village there arose a cry, 'Did you get him?'

'No,' they said.

'Did he get away?'

'No; it was we who got away--he possesses a Power we know nothing about and if we killed him that power would be against us.'"

So the missionary lived, and through the example of his fearlessness these natives were attracted to listen to his teaching and gradually they themselves came to experience [8/9] the Power of the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to overcome the terrible fears which formerly possessed them. So we are not surprised that heathen chiefs ask for teachers of peace to be sent to their villages.

Back on the ship, one realised afresh that carrying cows on board cannot be without unusual happenings. I will mention just one; we were all assembled in the saloon for the Evening Service and I was seated close to the door leading into the companion-way, hearing a strange noise, I looked and there beheld one of the cows evidently very determined to see what was going on; soon her head would be through the doorway, so I beckoned to one of the deck hands to come and deal with the matter: he was faced with some difficulty as there was no room to turn her round; however, by getting her fore-part into a cabin, he managed. As we came near the island where the cows were to be landed, ropes were tied to their horns and they were swum ashore, led by some boys; not knowing what the cows might do, the boys climbed some trees, and the cows, delighted at feeling the solid ground under their feet, kicked up their heels and galloped off into the bush--and that was the last we saw of our cow travelling companions!

Soon we called at another island where there was a very faithful Melanesian priest named Martin who was unfortunately now suffering a great deal of pain from a disease in his eyes; it was decided to take him on board for the rest of the ship's journey, in the hope that this might be some benefit to him. On Good Friday we reached the island of Bunana where there was a girls' school; Martin expressed the wish to go ashore to take a Service; while he was speaking to the girls, they sensed that he was in pain with his eyes; a few of the smallest, as an expression of their sympathy, went and sat at his feet, as he stood on the Sanctuary steps. The Service over, Martin returned to the ship; the girls asked the Principal if they might go back to the Chapel and ask Jesus to take away the pain from Martin's eyes and make him quite well. Another day's sailing and we reached the Government Station of Tulagi where there happened to be an eye specialist from America doing research work, eye trouble being very common in the [9/10] Solomon Islands. Martin was at once taken to him; after examining him, the doctor told him he could remove the cause of the pain; this he did, to Martin's great joy and thankfulness--thus came God's answer to the girls' prayer.


Two days' further sailing brought into sight the Island of Guadalcanal, with the hospital on a rise not very far from the shore and beyond it the College for the Ordinands with Mr. Steward, an Oxford don, in charge. I stood viewing the hospital, the place of my dreams for so many years. The valuable spiritual preparation which I had before leaving New Zealand had made me--being what I was--a very pious person. As I stood on the deck, with my large sun-hat in my hand (for there was a high wind and I did not want to lose it) Mr. Steward came up and greeted me, "Oh! Here you are! And you have brought your Sunday-go-to-meeting hat; that is right." I did not expect quite that kind of greeting on what seemed to me a very auspicious occasion; I think he had noticed my pious appearance and so began straight away to "knock off some corners". However, I found him to be a very wise man who thoroughly understood how best to meet the demands which such a life and climate make upon every missionary.

Soon my fellow nurse and I were making our way up to the hospital; our arrival was certainly opportune, for we learnt that the doctor was soon to leave for war service and the two nurses were about to be married; they remained until the next visit of the Southern Cross, so we had an opportunity of gaining an insight into the nature and treatment of tropical diseases, etc. There were some twenty or twenty-five out-patients every morning; the hospital being quite strange to them, it was not possible to persuade them to venture as in-patients--at least not for a time.

Later on we were called upon to leave the hospital to go to the college to teach and train the wives and families of the students. This was quite interesting; we had our own separate little cottage; but in the evening we all sat down together in the hall for the main meal. Here we found the [10/11] food most unappetising---meat simply turned out of a tin, no potatoes but plain boiled yam, and hard ship's biscuits instead of bread. This is all right for a time, but only those who are very strong indeed can go on with such a bill of fare. We noticed that Mr. Steward was losing weight and having frequent attacks of malaria, and we feared that before long he would be invalided back to England; so we asked if we might supervise the cooking, but were told that cooking was not our work. However, when he saw that our health also was beginning to suffer, he gave way. My fellow nurse being a good cook, our next meal consisted of a very nice tasty curry, with yam mashed and fried to a crisp brown--a great contrast to the plain boiled yam--followed by a delicious apple pie. Mr. Steward looked at it all in amazement. Fortunately I had learned to make bread, so in future we had fresh bread in place of the hard ship's biscuits. A planter whom we were able to help during occasional attacks of illness began sending us eggs; and with this better diet we all improved in health. We taught the women, and soon they were able to cook as well as we could.

The children were very fascinating; as they never seemed to sing any songs of their own, I tried to teach them a short chorus; this caused great amusement, as when they saw me enter the kitchen to supervise the cooking, they would run in with "Miss Nurse, sing!" And there was no peace until I did sing their little chorus; they themselves joined in, and in between there were peals of laughter--as well there might be! They would go to the nearby village to show their ability to sing like the white people: soon the children of that village were singing the chorus in their way: when I was seen coming into this village they would come running out with the same old cry, "Miss Nurse, sing", and with their attempt at joining in we arrived at their village--such an arrival as had not been before!

One day the Bishop called and said he wished me to take charge of the hospital at Norfolk Island; alas! when I returned after a few months it was to find that Nurse Jeffery had been fatally attacked by a very deadly fever; this was indeed sad news for me, and a grievous loss to the Mission. Now I was left without any human being to consult [11/12] about any case of sickness, and so was entirely dependent upon God for guidance. One day I was called to visit a very sick woman in a village; I found her to be a case for a doctor rather than for a nurse; her husband was very anxious, and I had to tell him that there was no doctor and we must put our whole trust in God; so we knelt down and prayed that God would heal her; that evening as I was praying again for this woman, I experienced a feeling of wonderful assurance that all was well with her. The next morning on my way to visit her, I met her husband coming to tell me that his wife was now well; I asked him when the change had taken place, and he said, "Just as the sun was going down;" this was the time of my feeling that all was well. Arriving at her home, I found her out of all danger, and soon she was quite her old self again.

Some little time after this Mr. Steward called, complaining of very severe pain in his ear; I could not find the cause of the trouble, after he had gone, I went to my room and asked God to show me the cause of the pain; like a flash came the word "neuralgia"; so I went into my little dispensary, and then, armed with a tonic, I went to his house and said to him, "Your trouble is neuralgia, and here is the cure." At the same time, noticing his desk standing between two open doors, I added, "And there is the cause," pointing to the open doors; "one open door is enough at a time."

On one occasion while visiting a village, I looked into a very old hut and saw a poor elderly man suffering from a badly poisoned foot; I found the native teacher who was in charge of this village and asked why he had not brought this man, to us to receive treatment.

He replied, "He cannot walk."

"No," I said; "I can see that; ask one or two men to carry him to a canoe and bring him to us."

He arrived early the next morning; it took some weeks to effect a cure, and then he indicated that he wished to go home; so I gave him some of the remedy and some bandages to take with him, and off he went without showing the slightest sign of gratitude; for a moment I felt somewhat [12/13] disgusted, however, the following morning I saw a man coming along the beach carrying a load on his back; soon he arrived and laid his load, a large stem of beautiful bananas, upon our verandah, and was going off again when I called him back and gave him some breakfast with a good cup of tea. This was his way of showing gratitude--and that was not the end; some time later the native teacher came in search of Mr. Steward to tell him that this man wished to become a Christian; he had given him the necessary instruction and so asked Mr. Steward to examine him and if he thought fit, to baptise him. Then he was prepared for Confirmation and upon the Bishop's next visit was made a full member of the Church.

Late one night one of the students came and told me that his child was dead, but not altogether dead; this meant that he was unconscious--it is not until a sick person has stopped breathing that they say he is quite dead. Telling the father to have some hot water ready, I dressed and hurried off, taking with me things necessary for applying hot fomentations. I found a boy of about five years, quite unconscious, on his mother's lap. With the hot fomentations his breathing improved, and soon he became conscious and sat up. I was surprised not to see joy in the mother's face; then she told me that she had lost four children with the same kind of sickness and now she realised that had she known what to do, they need not have died. Thus 1 understood her sadness, and I gave her some of the necessary things in case the child suffered a further attack.

One day my house-girl, Maud, severely injured one of her eyes; in spite of careful treatment the other eye was becoming infected. As I was due for furlough by the next voyage of the Southern Cross to Auckland, it was decided that I should take her with me to the hospital there to have the injured eye removed. When I explained this to her, she was too upset to agree, but later she came back to say, "If I go blind, I shall not see my child grow up, I will go." She was a widow and it was arranged for her to take her child, a charming little mite of three, with her. Maud had a great sense of humour and was always very merry; many a young man sought her as a wife, but she would have none [13/14] of them. She faced the operation with great self-possession--a great ordeal, indeed, as she could not speak any English and no one at the hospital could speak her language. Her little girl was made a great pet of by the Sister and nurses and was quite at home going about with them, and was filled with wonder at seeing such a great big building. Maud was quite happy and by the time she was ready to leave, she was making herself useful waiting on the patients who were confined to bed. Nevertheless, she was very pleased when the day came for her to be discharged. Her next experience was my taking her to the oculist for an artificial eye; of course it was necessary to explain to her that it was better for her appearance to have the new eye, although it would not be one with which she could see; and great was her delight and wonder to find how natural the new eye looked. The oculist explained that she must be careful when removing it, as it was breakable, and she wondered whether she had better have several; however, when she heard the cost of one, she thought perhaps she ought not to have even one! Maud at last returned to her village, the latest in the way of curios! Many were the strange ideas of the villagers, one being that it was an animal's eye; but I pointed to the window and explained that the eye was made of glass and that she could not see with it. One day a group of women came into the kitchen and sat on the floor; Maud sat down with them and told them some of her experiences in hospital; she described the hospital and the great number of men and women doing all they could to make great numbers of sick people well again. "You know," she said, "we do nothing for our sick people; we put them out of our way and leave them alone, and when they are very sick we leave them to die; but the white people always love and care for their sick."

The next thing I have to tell you is in connection with myself. Suddenly I became very ill; I thought the trouble was just malaria, but it proved to be the very dangerous fever which had caused Nurse Jeffery's death. I quickly went from bad to worse, and to me, knowing all the danger signals it seemed that I had only one more day to live, and perhaps not a whole day; when Mr. Hopkins, the Chaplain of the College, came in, he evidently realised my serious condition, [14/15] and, without a word, knelt down and prayed to God to restore me to health. Soon there came to me a feeling of very positive assurance that the prayer was going to be granted. Mr. Hopkins now said, "What shall we do?" And I replied, "Get me to the Government Hospital." I arrived there by launch the following day; the doctor had gone to Sydney, but there was a Sister at the hospital who had had considerable experience with this very dangerous fever; under her care I soon began to improve and after some weeks was put on board a vessel bound for Sydney; I remained in Sydney for another six weeks and then sailed for Auckland, where a Sister of The Order of The Good Shepherd met me and told me that their Reverend Mother, Mother Hannah, would like me to stay with them for as long as I wished.


After a while I began to wonder what my future was to be; would it be private nursing? The doctors had told me that I should never be able to return to the Islands--this was a very sad blow to me for I had come to love the Melanesians more dearly than I had realised; I was also told that hospital nursing was out of the question. Still wondering, I went to Hawke's Bay and paid a visit to Deaconess Esther Brand; after a few days she asked me if I had ever thought of becoming a Deaconess; I certainly had not, for I would not have considered myself suitable. However, Deaconess Esther said, "If the Bishop would accept you for training, would you be willing to undertake this training, thus testing your vocation?" I agreed to this and the Bishop (the Right Reverend W. W. Sedgwick) accepted me, and after two years of study and training in practical parish work, I sat the necessary examination and was successful; next the Bishop told me that the Dean of Waiapu (the Very Reverend F. Mayne) had asked for my services; this nearly took my breath away as I had not dreamed of working in the Cathedral Parish, but of course there could be no thought of a refusal. I was ordained on June 27, 1923, in the beautiful Cathedral in Napier (later destroyed by the disastrous earthquake of 1931) and began work at once, superintending the Sunday School, leading the Senior Girls' Bible Class, and helping [15/16] with the activities of the Mothers' Union and other Parish Organisations, in addition to visiting and the usual Parish routine. During my first week I was asked to take an Intercession Service and give an address at a Mothers' Union Council meeting; so far my only experience in the giving of Addresses had been to give one or two little talks about Melanesia; after prayer and careful thought I decided to take as my subject, "Not by might. nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts" I hoped it would be a helpful message for the Mothers' Union Council; I know it was certainly a great help to me at the beginning of my work as a Parish Deaconess.

My previous experience in Melanesia proved to be a good foundation for my present work, for there I had learnt to lean on God and to wait for His guidance from day to day--yes, and often from hour to hour. I will mention one or two instances of how God can and will help and guide us if we put ourselves in His hands. . . . One day I noticed some boys playing marbles in the street on Bluff Hill and I was led to ask them if they all went to Sunday School; there was a cry of "I do! I do!" from several; then one said, "I don't, and that boy doesn't; he's my brother." I enquired where they lived and off I went to ask their mother if she would allow them to come to our Sunday School. She stood and just looked at me for a moment and then said, "Come in." She now explained that she herself knew nothing of God; there had been no mention of Him in her parents' home---no Church, no Sunday School. She went on to tell me that when her mother died, she was almost beside herself with grief, her only thought being that she would never see her again. Then someone told her that she had missed the greatest thing in life, a knowledge of God, and advised her to read the Gospels. This she did, but she was unable to understand their meaning. I talked with her and later gave her Paterson Smyth's "A People's Life of Christ which seemed to help her and to prepare her mind for further teaching She gladly allowed her boys to come to Sunday School. I had many talks with her and was sorry when her husband was transferred to Auckland and I lost touch with the family.

[17] There came a time of depression upon the country, from which there was no escape in Napier; this brought much hardship and it was sad to visit so many homes where there was dire need. Many men were unemployed, and those who had work were obliged to "stand down" one day a week and received no pay for that day. At this time I was led to pay a visit to an old gentleman, a semi-invalid; he said to me, "Deaconess, I have means, and have no one to leave my money to as my wife has plenty of her own; I want you to let me know of any cases of urgent need and I will be happy to give you some money to assist." I always got the most cheerful welcome when I went to ask for this help--and I may say that that was fairly often!

Next I must tell you about a neighbour, a Christian but not a member of our Church, who for some time had been trying to gain courage to undergo an operation for a very serious goitre. The growth was increasing and she became more fearful than ever, and one day she said to me, "I hear that you have a group of women who meet at your house every week to pray for the sick; will you pray that God will help me and give me courage?" When she was admitted to the hospital, nothing could be done owing to her state of fear; however, a little later I was surprised to find her sitting up in bed, looking very happy. "Sit down," she said, "and I will tell you what has happened. As I lay awake one night, it seemed that our Saviour came to me and said, 'Why are you so full of fear? I am your Physician; the doctors are My ministers; you have nothing to fear.' Then He passed His hand over me and every bit of fear immediately went from me." I learnt that the doctors were surprised at her composure and lack of fear and this enabled them to Perform a more extensive operation than they had expected; all this resulted in her complete cure.

My thoughts go back to the days when I was at the Palmerston North Hospital--a woman patient, not a religious Person, said to me, "My husband deserted me some time ago; I have five children and by my labours I have managed to provide for them. Now I have been forced to come into hospital, and when the doctor told me that I must undergo a very serious operation, my first thought was, 'What will [17/18] happen to my children?' In desperation I picked up the Bible which was lying on the locker and it opened at the words in the Old Testament, 'Fear not; I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' Beautiful words, but they meant nothing to me. Later on I prayed and asked God to help me, and again I picked up the Bible and a second time it opened at the same place; again I read those same words and it was as if God stood at my bedside and spoke them directly to me, and I felt comforted and assured that their Heavenly Father would provide love and care for my children."

Another experience was that, in a place where I was once staying, one night I heard someone in the next room groaning and tossing herself about: I went in to see if I could be of help. From the look of anguish on her face I thought she must be suffering from a brain storm; she just said, "Oh! Pray for me! Pray for me!" I prayed, and put my hand on her head to calm her, and she fell immediately into a sound sleep; when I returned soon after, I found her sleeping as peacefully as a babe, and so she slept till morning.

A prayer circle of which I was the leader was asked to pray for a mentally deficient child of six years. A little later the child's father asked his wife to take the child to a brain specialist and it was found that she was not mentally deficient, but deaf; so this problem was solved, and after some months we received word that the child was able to hear and was making good progress at school.

A certain girl came to me several times to find work for her--her working periods were broken as she had chest trouble and had often to be in hospital, Bishop Sedgwick had in a wonderful measure the gift of healing, so after full preparation, I took this girl to him to receive the laying on of Hands with Prayer. She happily resumed her work, and went again to the hospital for her monthly chest examination: on this occasion the doctor said, "Your lung is completely healed." I kept in touch with this girl for a long time and she had no return of the trouble. I could mention other sick people whom I took to Bishop Sedgwick with the same result, but the above must suffice.


Let me now say something about the nature of prayer. When we study the New Testament, we find a great deal of our Lord's teaching is about this most powerful gift; to His disciples and especially to the twelve Apostles He was able to give very full teaching; why was this? It was because they had given up all to follow Him, knowing that such a life would not be easy--they could not expect greater comfort than their Master and "He had nowhere to lay His Head"; for them there was no promise of a comfortable bed at night or of regular meals by day.

Prayer is not easy: the greatest saint will tell us this; the first step is to learn to know God by reading His Book, the Bible, and by joining in the family worship in His House, the Church; yes--prayer is difficult, but if we have within us even a little faith and sincerity and a willingness to take up the Cross, and if we ask God to help us and to strengthen our faith, He very surely will do so. We read that S. Thomas said, "Let us also go with Him that we may die with Him."

I have known many who have had wonderful answers to their prayers although they turned to God only in times of distress or sickness. During our Lord's Ministry the same thing happened--He turned away no one who came to Him in faith; then, as now, He asked only faith and sincerity. When He was on earth, how many came back to thank Him? (Think of the ten lepers!) Today, too, it is sad to know how few remember to give thanks.

Now I know that many of my readers will be ready to say, I have prayed for something for a long time and have received no reply." We must realise that God always answers--sometimes His answer is "No;" sometimes, "Yes;" sometimes, "Wait." I once knew a woman whose husband was a drunkard and who prayed for years that God would cure him; she felt that her prayer was not answered. We cannot understand why the answer seemed to be "No"; was it, perhaps, that the husband did not wish to give up his evil habit? We certainly do know that God has given free will to man and so God cannot force him.

[20] One of the difficulties of prayer is the feeling of being unable to get into touch with God; this may be caused by an unforgiving spirit or by insufficient faith in the Power of Christ to answer. Our Lord taught His disciples that prayer ought to be a vital part of their lives; He once said to them, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, 'Remove hence to yonder place;' and it shall remove." He did not mean this to be taken literally; He wished to emphasise that prayer can become living and fruitful. If you look at a mustard seed, you will notice that it possesses hard shell; we know that inside that shell is the germ of life, but in order that the seed may become fruitful it has to sink down into the earth and remain there out of sight until the shell gradually softens and the germ of life pushes its way out and up through the earth into God's air and sunshine to become "the greatest among herbs." Have not we also a hard shell preventing our spiritual life from becoming as fruitful as God means it to be, and cannot that hard shell be likened to love of self? We must get rid of that love of self if our prayers are to be fruitful; this is not easy and comes only by slow degrees; but if we offer simply and naturally to God our prayers and praises, we shall in time be able to say, like Jacob of old, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not."


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