Forbidden Fruit In My Island Paradise
That day started just like any other day. The bright, probing sun had already announced the new day, broadcasting its arrival by painting colourful lines and patterns on the coconut trees that lined the island’s idyllic coastline. Hours had passed since I had jumped up eagerly from by my bed and begun the day’s activities - preparation for that evening's Bible School teaching.
Everything seemed normal enough, but there was something gnawing away within me. Attempting to understand the reason for my unusual disquiet, suddenly I realised that I was experiencing an intensive craving ... for tomatoes. Astonished at this desire's overpowering intensity, I mentally reviewed the past six months of living in this remote island province. It had always been my custom to live in a similar fashion to those whom I was dwelling among, after all I was there to serve as a missionary, not to place unreasonable demands on the native populace in order to make me feel more comfortable. So since my arrival, I had happily consumed the island’s stable diet - a handful of green leaves from the nearest tree (yuk!), a few sweet potatoes and a piece of smoked fish. Quite reasonable enough, except that this menu was identical for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week!
Hmmm ... tomatoes! How impossible! Tomatoes just don’t grow on this tropical island! There’s absolutely no way to quench this consuming desire. Pondering my dilemma, I decided on my only course of action. I fell to my knees beside my bed. “Father, everyone says that we should tell You everything we feel, err ... well, I know that nothing can be done about how I feel, but I just wanted to tell You anyway ... I WANT TO EAT SOME TOMATOES! Thank you, Lord. Amen.”
Satisfied in having unloaded my heart to the Lord in prayer, I again immersed myself in my work. Sometime later I heard a sharp rap at the door. I instantly recognized my visitor. To my utter surprise, standing there in the doorway, was one of the Christian women from the village church that met on the island's mountain centre. Smiles were exchanged. What is she doing here? I wondered. Conversation was impossible as I couldn’t speak or understand her particular Pidgin dialect nor could she speak English. But words weren’t needed. With a huge smile and sparkling eyes she handed me a bulging plastic bag, and then made a hasty retreat. Closing the door, I then peered into the bag with great curiosity. TOMATOES! Big, red, juicy tomatoes! My morning’s desperate prayer came tumbling back into my mind. It had been all but forgotten. Stunned, speechless, trembling with awe, I placed the bag with its rare treasure into the fridge, my mouth instantly watering with the prospect of savouring fresh, cooled tomatoes in the peak of the blistering afternoon heat. When the moment came, I ate my red trophies with absolute delight.
How had God wrought the impossible? The tomatoes arrival, were without doubt, a miracle provision. I longed to know how it had come about. Later that evening in a discussion with close friends, the incredulous sequence of events unfolded. I discovered that tomatoes did grow on the island, but only on the island's single mountain peak, where a small village was situated. However, the tomatoes that grow there are never eaten by humans - they are fed to the pigs! Instantly I saw the dilemma faced by the dear native woman when the Holy Spirit had told her, “Take a bag full of tomatoes and give them to Karen, the Australian missionary living in the main town on the coast.” What must have gone through her mind? “But Lord, tomatoes are animal food. Won’t she be offended if I give her tomatoes? Besides that, we can’t communicate with each other. How will I explain to her what You are asking me to do?” Finally in obedience to the Lord’s prompting, she gathered the tomatoes and travelled the dusty, bumpy road for hours to deliver ‘pig food’ to the Australian missionary. Laughing in remembrance of that spectacular moment, I saw why the gentle woman had made a hasty retreat! Will she ever know that God wrought a miracle through her?
Although this event transpired many years ago, it still holds a special place in my heart. Its message resounds loud and clear as a profound example of our God’s loving attention towards His children. Whether we are living on a remote island in the farthest parts of the sea, in a cave deep within the forests of Africa, or even if our bed is made within hell itself (Psalm 139:8), God does hear our cry. Even where there is no way, He is able to make a way, with great delight - heaven moving earth - to answer our prayers whispered to Him in the secret place of prayer.
A true story.
Karen Elengikal is an inspirational, published writer from Sydney, Australia. Karen's first book 'Kidz Battle Zone' was released in 2007. (see FW Book Review).
2006 Karen Elengikal
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