It was a normal Thursday morning. After family worship and breakfast, the kids and I got working on homeschool while my much-appreciated helper, Abi, went to the market. When she came back, she started working on lunch preparations.

Hadassah and I were in the middle of a writing assignment when Neil called to me from the front porch that someone wanted to see me. I felt irritated. I hate being interrupted during our homeschooling time. The kids and I get distracted, and it takes us a long time to settle back down. Giving the kids stern instructions to stay on task, I went to the front door.

An unfamiliar young woman was waiting for me on the porch. She was thin, and her clothes were faded. I stepped outside and greeted her in Bambara. Without introducing herself, she launched into a hurried story that I was unable to understand. Usually I can understand enough Bambara to catch the gist of things, but she was so rushed and distraught that I couldn’t follow her. I invited her to have a seat while I went to get Abi to see if she would interpret. With Abi’s help, I was finally able to understand that the woman’s name was Bala, and she had recently given birth to a baby boy who had tragically died soon after delivery. During the birth, Bala had suffered complications that required an operation to fix. A doctor had performed the operation, but it hadn’t been successful, so another operation was needed. The doctor said he would perform the operation for free if Bala would purchase the long list of needed surgical supplies, which filled two sheets of paper and would cost about 50,000 cfa ($100). Neither Bala nor her family had that kind of money. “Can you help me?” she asked.

I’m ashamed to admit that I really didn’t want to get involved. Due to some unexpected large medical bills, our money was running short for the month. Also, $100 is more than we like to give to strangers. We have been fooled by fictitious stories of need before.

Abi knew the doctor, so she volunteered to visit him with Bala to verify the story and get more details. While Bala and Abi were gone, Neil and I prayed about the situation. I told God exactly how I was feeling and asked that He guide us to the correct course of action. After we prayed, we felt peace about the situation. We knew God would lead us to do what was best.

Abi and Bala came back a short time later. The doctor had confirmed Bala’s story. He suggested that if we wanted to help Bala, we should buy the supplies for her instead of giving her the money.
In Mali where most people make only about a dollar a day, $100 is a lot of money.

After hearing the full report from Abi, Neil and I both felt the Holy Spirit leading us to help Bala. Though our money was low, we knew God would provide for us as He always had before.

Neil went to a pharmacy and returned with two big plastic bags full of all the necessary surgical supplies and the medicines Bala would need during her recovery. Bala was very happy to hear that she would be able to get her operation. We kept the supplies at our house overnight, and Bala and her father came by to pick them up the next morning. Her father thanked us, and so did her mother who stopped by later.
Early one Sabbath morning several days later, Neil once again called me to the front door. There stood Bala looking very different. She had a big smile, and when I stepped through the door she grabbed me in an enthusiastic hug. She said everything was going well after the operation, and she thanked us once again for helping her. We told her that the thanks should go to God, and she agreed.

I expect to see her again, and when I do, her smiling face will remind me that, no matter how busy I am, people are always more important. Thanks for your continued prayers for us and for our Malinke friends.

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