One of our Bible students led a woman to the Lord named Nelda. Nelda attended our church and was baptized. She was pregnant with her sixth child at the time of her salvation. She lived with her husband, who worked as a fisherman and part-time carpenter. The family lived in a small bamboo shack that literally looked like it was going to fall on any given day, but it kept the family dry. Nelda’s baby was due in January but arrived late in February. We were excited when babies were born in our church families and tried to show special attention to the mothers of newborns. We usually had someone giving birth at least once a month and sometimes more often than that. It kept us busy visiting the new arrivals.
Late one Sunday, we heard that Nelda delivered her child at home, so the next week, I scheduled a day with one of our pastors to visit Nelda and the new baby. When we arrived at the house, we were told there were complications with the child’s feet. The baby was born with both feet turned inward. I realize that it would not have been such a problem in America, but that was not the case living on the island. If a child was born with a birth defect, they suffered as long as they lived. Being a baby boy made things worse, considering he would have never walked and would have relied upon others for food and care. Many times they starved or lived as an outcast of the family.
I sat down with Nelda and encouraged her about the child, but I could tell her heart was broken. We talked for a while, then I asked to pray with her. She held her baby tightly in her arms as we prayed, and I noticed tears running down her cheeks, falling onto those little crippled feet of the baby. It broke my heart, so I sat and cried with her. The following week I gathered some of our ladies together and discussed how we could help with the child’s feet. I knew that such an operation meant lots of money and time. We got our ideas together, so the ladies went out to the hospital in the city. They found a doctor that promised to do the surgery-free, another one gave us the anesthesia, and the government offered the hospital operating room. They asked if we could provide the medicines and materials for the cast on the child’s feet after the operations.
It took months of preparations and schedule changes, but the day of the operation finally arrived. Two of our lady Bible Students went to the hospital, sat with Nelda for three days, and helped with the child. The procedures were successful, and the doctors promised that the child would one day run through the villages like all the other children. Nelda’s family lived sixty miles north on our island. They received the news about their grandson by a letter carrier, so her dad visited the city. Nelda’s dad saw how the Lord had taken care of his grandson and how a few people working together could conquer mountains. He saw firsthand how God’s people worked together and encouraged one another.
One Sunday morning, Nelda’s daddy visited our Church Worship Services. He sat in the back of the church and observed the people and the worship. He watched the preaching and invitation service. He didn’t get saved, but he listened to the Gospel message with earnest attention. The following week, he told me that he wanted to talk with me, so I met with him at Nelda’s house. He told me that he appreciated what the Church had done for his grandson. He said that he had never seen anything like that before. He said there was no Church of any kind in his village. He asked me, “Will you bring ‘This Gospel’ to us in our village?” I told him that we would come and hold Bible Studies at his house the following week.
We took Bible Students to his village the following week. People and children had already gathered to hear ‘This Gospel’ when we got there. They sat and listened as we sang and preached Jesus Christ. Many of them were saved as they listened to the old story of our Saviour and his love for sinners. After three weeks of Bible Studies, Nelda’s dad called me to his side again. He said, “We have never witnessed these things before. I desire my village to know this Christ. I have no money, but I have a property to give you if you want to help us build a Church here. Our people will provide the labor if you can help with the materials and the preacher.
The building was completed, and the church was established with souls that received the Gospel of Jesus. The people had a Bible-preaching church, and it all started when a few people were willing to give and help a child with two crippled feet!