I want to share a story with you. A true story about God’s provision that has encouraged me today. Maybe you’ve heard of it before. It’s a story about Darleen Rose, an American missionary to New Guinea during the mid-1900s. During World War II, she was taken captive in March 1942 by the Japanese. She spent 4 years in a prison camp. Miraculously, she survived the horrible conditions, and later returned to the United States.
Darleen wrote a book about her experiences entitled Evidence Not Seen. It’s an incredible book, and I highly recommend it. Darleen’s faith in the Lord through all her trials is a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and steadfast love. Here is one of my favorite parts of her book. I hope you’re encouraged by it as well.
***Several native women prisoners had been jailed for minor misdemeanors and were allowed to take air and exercise afternoons in the courtyard, whenever it pleased the officer in charge.
The actions of one woman in particular fascinated me. Every time the sentry on duty turned his back on her and marched to the other end of the courtyard, she inched over toward a fence covered with Honolulu Creeper. When the guard clicked his heels, turned about, and began to stroll in her direction, she stopped. There he went, and there she went. “Aha, intrigue. She’s going to make contact with someone who’s hidden in those vines. Isn’t this exciting! Oh, do be careful. With no books to read, I’ll watch the drama taking place here before my very eyes!” I empathized with her. I wanted her to succeed, and not be caught. Finally reaching the vine-covered fence, the woman stood very still. The guard clicked his heels and went off again. At that moment, I saw a hand shoot through the tangle of vine. It held a big bunch of bananas. Quickly she grabbed the bananas, slipped them into the folds of her sarong, and strolled nonchalantly back to join the other women. Nobody knew she had those bananas. But I did – bananas!
I dropped to the floor of my cell. Exhausted from my efforts, I shook all over. Worse still, I began to crave bananas. Everything in me wanted one. I could see them; I could smell them; I could taste them. I got down on my knees and said, “Lord, I’m not asking You for a whole bunch like that woman has. I just want one banana.” I looked up and pleaded, “Lord, just one banana!”
Then I began to rationalize–how could God possible get a banana to me through these prison walls? There was more chance of the moon falling out of the sky than one of the guards bringing me a banana.
I bowed my head again and prayed, “Lord, there’s no one here who could get a banana to me. There’s no way for You to do it. Please don’t think I’m not thankful for the rice porridge. It’s just that — well, those bananas looked so delicious!” What I needed to do was link my impotence to God’s omnipotence, but I couldn’t see how God could get a banana to me through those prison walls.
The morning after the banana drama, I heard the click of officers’ leather heels on the concrete walkway. Finally the door opened, and I looked into the smiling face of Mr. Yamaji, the Kampili camp commander. This was early July, and it had been so long since I had seen a smiling or a familiar face. I clapped my hands and exclaimed, “Mr. Yamaji, it’s just like seeing an old friend!” Tears filled his eyes. He didn’t say a word but turned and walked out into the courtyard and began to talk with the two officers who had conducted my interrogations. Finally Mr. Yamaji came back to my cell. “You’re very ill, aren’t you?” he asked sympathetically. “Yes, sir, Mr. Yamaji, I am.” “I’m going back to the camp now. Have you any word for the women?” The Lord gave me confidence to answer, “Yes, sir, when you go back, please tell them for me that I’m all right. I’m still trusting the Lord. They’ll understand what I mean, and I believe you do.”
“All right,” he replied; then turning on his heels, he left.
When Mr. Yamaji and the Kempeitai officers had gone and the guard had closed the door, it hit me — I didn’t bow to those men!
“Oh Lord,” I cried, “why didn’t You help me remember? They’ll come back and beat me. Not now, Lord. I can’t; I just can’t.”
I heard the guard coming back and knew he was coming for me. Struggling to my feet, I stood ready to go. He opened the door, walked in, and with a sweeping gesture laid at my feet — bananas! “They’re yours,” he said, “and they’re all from Mr. Yamaji.” I sat down in stunned silence and counted them. There were ninety-two bananas!
In all my spiritual experience, I’ve never known such shame before my Lord. I pushed the bananas into a corner and wept before Him. “Lord, forgive me; I’m so ashamed. I couldn’t trust You to get even one banana for me. Just look at them — there are almost a hundred.” In the quiet of the shadowed cell, He answered back within my heart: That’s what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think.” I knew in those moments that nothing is impossible to my God.***
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (Psalm 23:5)