Recently someone I follow on facebook was talking about writing a book about miracles and wanted testimonies. It made me think about two things in particular that happened while we are in Sierra Leone which Ali and I considered to be miracles. I thought I would write these two stories down so as not to forget and to enable me to share them with other people.
I actually believe that miracles happen everyday but often we fail to notice them. My life is one big miracle, we pass things of as coincidences or if we are Christians we may call them God-incidences but I am starting to call them everyday miracles. There are however more significant miracles, these tend to be the ones that we talk about and hear stories about.
I am going to share two stories and I believe them both to be miracles, one an everyday miracle and the other a miracle. They both happened while we lived in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Everyday Miracle – Calling the Tax Office
It was September 2015 and we had just arrived in Sierra Leone, this is where we would call home for the next couple of years. Our youngest son Matthew was just starting his second year at Oxford University studying Earth Sciences and we had been having terrible problems sorting our his student finance. When we left the UK I thought I had sorted it. Phew, it had been such a pain trying to finalise it and because I knew we were leaving for Sierra Leone it had become a massive source of stress and worry to me, I was so relieved it was at last done ….. so I thought.
We arrived in Freetown and not long after arriving we received a message from Matthew saying that the student finance people needed a letter from the inland revenue to confirm my income for the previous year. In a normal situation this would not be a problem but we were now in Africa and, where we would be living did not have any electricity and the internet was very spasmodic and painfully slow. I needed to sort this out before we left Freetown. We were leaving the following morning.
The person we were staying with had a business in Freetown and said we could use the office telephone to call the inland revenue. Obviously we were very grateful, I was aware it would be expensive to ring the UK but our friend said it was fine and we shouldn’t worry. We went to the office and I got all the information together ready to call, it was the afternoon and we were leaving in the morning. I called the number and it rang out for ages, eventually I got a recorded message saying “we are receiving a high number of calls today please try again tomorrow” then I was promptly disconnected. I tried again and the same thing happened, I was besides myself as we were running out of time, I started to cry and poor Ali my husband tried to calm me down, I knew if we didn’t sort this out it would mean Matthew would not get his funding and we didn’t have the money to give him.
Ali then prayed that when I called again they would pick up. I tried one last time ‘knowing’ that no one would answer, to my utter amazement a ladies voice spoke to me saying “Good afternoon, Inland Revenue how can I help you today” I was so shocked and so relieved that I started to sob uncontrollably on the end of the phone, the poor lady must have wondered what on earth was happening. I eventually calmed myself down and explained the situation to her, she was amazing and was so helpful. She wrote a letter there and then and promised it would be posted out to Matthew that night. Matthew received the letter the following day and his student finance was released to him.
Ali and I believe that God intervened here, the situation felt so hopeless and God turned it around. Many would call this a coincidence I call this an everyday MIRACLE.
Abu was one of our staff members in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, he was responsible for the security at the site where we were building a school. One morning at 8am he arrived with Sahr another member of staff and told us that he had been attacked by a soldier at the army barracks down the road, he seemed pretty shook up and had a bust lip and said he had a headache. I gave him some paracetamol and told him to go and rest.
That evening at around 6.30 we received a call from Sahr saying we needed to go to the site as Abu was not very well, we needed to come quickly, we could hear the panic in Sahr’s voice so we jumped in the old blue landrover and drove the half mile down the road to see what the problem was. We arrived to a group of women stood around Abu, crying and wailing “Abu, Abu” he was flat out on his back unconscious, totally unresponsive.
We managed to get Abu in the back of the car where I sat with his head on my knee so as I could maintain his airway, I remember as Ali was driving as fast as he could down a very bumpy unmade road saying to Ali, “you need to be quick I can’t find his pulse” I was so scared, at that moment I was convinced Abu was going to die.
It was very strange, I wanted to get to the hospital but I knew that it was highly unlikely there would be a Dr there. We arrived at the hospital and stretchered Abu into the mens ward where we placed him on an empty bed. We were promptly asked for Le1,000 to buy a book for them to write his notes in. A nurse took his blood pressure, administered painkillers and put up IV fluids and that was it, there were no Doctors as I feared. At this point I didn’t hold out much hope for Abu.
I used to be a nurse and I knew that it was highly likely that he had a bleed on the brain caused by him being kicked in the head. In the UK he would have been taken for a scan and would have been placed in rhesus while he was stabilised. Here there was nothing more they could do. Our only chance was a miracle. I got out my phone and started to send WhatsApp messages to everyone back home in the UK who I knew would pray explaining the situation and we stood around Abu’s bed and prayed, asking God to heal him.
Just ten minutes later Abu opened his eyes and started to talk, saying “Mr Ali, I need to go back to the site” “I need to be at work”. Abu left hospital two days later and went on to make a full recovery, we witnessed an amazing miracle that night and we give God all the glory.