(I had the privilege of sharing this powerful testimony of God’s provision in wec.go magazine a few years ago. I enjoy re-reading it, as it always encourages me to trust God deeply. I hope it does the same for you! Thank you again, Aletta Markus, for allowing me to share your story!)
In the early 1960’s, I was a nurse at the East London General Hospital in South Africa and head of the hospital’s Christian Nurses’ Fellowship. I invited Corrie ten Boom to speak to the nurses. I enjoyed listening to Corrie’s stories of God’s faithfulness. She shared about a vitamin oil she gave to her sister who was ill. Every day she poured oil from the bottle, wondering how long it would last. Many other women in the prison were sick. She also gave oil to them and yet it never ran dry! I remember thinking, “God, You will multiply oil and do miracles for Corrie because she is so special.” And then the Lord spoke to my heart, saying “You are also special. All my children are special to me.”
Corrie always stressed things like, “His promises are sure; His blessings are great; His grace is sufficient; His presence is near; His mercy is everlasting and His Truth endures to all generations.” One of her favorite quotes was, “Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” And I thought, “Wow! This is something I really want to hold onto.”
After Ed and I were married, the Lord led us to join WEC. We went to the South African headquarters for candidate training. Will and Rhodie Dawn were the South African Directors for WEC at that time. When I worked in the kitchen, Rhodie always said, “Now trust the Lord for the meals.” We didn’t have an abundance of money or food. One day we sat around the table and had water and a little bread because that’s all we had. I apologized for having nothing more to serve. Rhodie said, “Aletta, you need never apologize. If God has just provided water and bread for us, we will be thankful for that. We need never, ever apologize.”
Ed and I planned to serve in Colombia, South America. However, the Dawns had not been on furlough for 16 years. So, Len Moules requested that we stay and look after the headquarters to give the Dawns a much-needed break. We agreed and lived there with a few other WECers and an African sister who came to live with us because of persecution.
I was in charge of the kitchen and had to trust the Lord for His provision. He provided in many strange ways! The one special day I want to tell you about is when the principal of the Missionary Training College (MTC) called to say that 16 people from the college would be joining us for dinner that night. I gasped. I hung up the phone and went to the pantry. It was pretty bare. There was a large package of Jell-o and a few bananas, so I thought, “I’ll put some bananas in Jell-O and have a dessert! Now, what for the main dish?”
I went to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Inside was one cup of ground beef and a little bit of leftover mixed rice, carrots and peas. I mixed them together. Cabbage rolls came to mind. I had never made cabbage rolls in my life! They served it at the MTC and I had the recipe. But I didn’t have all the ingredients to make it. I thought, “Well, Lord, I have to make this.”
I went to the produce box to look for cabbage. The box was empty. My dear African sister said, “Sometimes Mrs. Dawn will reach her hand up and up and up and come out with something.”
I put my hand back in the box and reached up and up and up but found nothing; absolutely nothing! I went to Ed and the other men to ask for a quarter so I could go out and buy a cabbage. They all searched their pockets and had no money! My dear African sister and I ran down the passage to the front door, hoping someone had left food there for us. There was nothing. The mailman came and dropped the mail through the slot. I ran to get it, hoping it contained money. Again, there was nothing. We went back to the kitchen and I said, “Oh, God, if I only had a cabbage I could try to make the meal for tonight.”
As I stood there, someone knocked on the kitchen door. We both turned around, and I opened the door. There was a well-dressed lady with a beautiful hat and gloves and handbag. She excitedly said, “Don’t thank me! Don’t thank me! Thank the Lord!”
She took us back to her van where men were offloading two big wooden crates. We couldn’t see what was in them. As she drove off I was stunned! I called Ed to come over and open the crates. He opened the first crate–cabbages! And the second crate–cabbages! God knows how to provide! I was just so amazed! I had my cabbages!
I began to boil water to blanch the leaves. As I prepared the meal, I must have been working unconsciously because I don’t know what I was thinking. I only had this small bowl of meat mixture and yet I took out three long cooking trays! As we laid the cabbage leaves down, I didn’t take a little teaspoon, or even a tablespoon of mixture. I took a large spoon and I scooped and put it on the cabbage leaf and rolled it up. When I finished the first tray, I was just crying and crying. And I didn’t want to stop. When we finished the second tray, my dear sister raised her arms in the sky and was yelling, “Oh glory!” I was crying out, “Yes, glory to Jesus.” It was overwhelming. And we finished three full trays before that mixture ran out!
It was a miracle! But that wasn’t the end of the story. When the MTC group arrived, we told them the story of how God had multiplied the mixture. We were almost ready to eat when the telephone rang. The call was from an Australian lady whose mother had recently died. Her family had put her on a cruise and told her to contact WEC when she got to Durban, South Africa. The lady said, “I have just docked at Durban. I heard about WEC and I would love to come and have supper with you.” At first I wanted to say, “Stay in Durban and have supper. I’ll fetch you afterward. We are only having cabbage rolls.” But then I remembered the lesson that I learned so hard, “Don’t apologize for what God has provided!” So, we held back supper, and the men went to get her. We didn’t tell her the miracle that God had brought.
Part way through the meal, the lady began to cry. I thought she felt sorry for us because we only had cabbage rolls. The men sitting by her asked what was wrong. She said, “You don’t know what this meal means to me. My mother died recently, and mom had a favorite dish. Her dish was cabbage rolls, and these taste just like Mom made them.”
I was so humbled! God had prepared and ordained that meal right from the beginning because He knew who was coming and He knew who He was going to bless. It encouraged us and the MTC students to see that He is faithful, He answers prayer, He provides for us. We just need to trust and obey.
By Aletta Markus with Penny J. Hood
cabbage picture from The Vegan Project (http://theveganproject.ca)