Persevering Prayer- a story from the killing fields of Cambodia

"One day, as I stood interpreting for one of the only two doctors at a place called Klong Wah where thousands needed their immediate attention, a little lad of about eight came up to me calling, 'Uncle, uncle, please come and help me carry my older brother over here where he can be given medicine.' The boy explained that the brother, about twelve, was lying a good two kilometres away in the bush, unconscious in a malaria coma. But I couldn't just walk away from my responsibilities as interpreter and the enormous task I already had on my hands helping to care for hundreds of dying people right there. Only a few yards into the forest there were more. How could I justify going so far and using up so much valuable time for just one? I told the boy I couldn't go with him, but to get one or two to help carry his brother in. Of course I knew even as I spoke that it was unlikely anyone was going to expend their own limited energy on a dying boy. His bad karma, his fate, had brought him to this sorry state, they would be reckoning subconsciously. Who can or should alter that? ...
The boy however would not be put off. He persisted in crying out after me, till I finally steeled myself and ignored him. After about an hour of whimpering and pleading, he fell silent, deep in thought. He knew that I was the only lifeline there was to save his brother's life. Next thing, I felt a pair of sinewy arms grip me round the legs, and a pari of ankles lock around mine. And there he clung like a leech. Now it was my turn to protest. But his lips were sealed. He clearly wasn't going to let his vice-like grip on my legs till they followed him to that place where his brother lay dying I was thus compelled to go with him in order to get rid of him! His dogged importunity had gained him the victory. And I reflected as I pursued him through the trees that this was surely what serious believing Christian prayer was all about. It entailed a crucial element of 'violence'. It involved patiently holding on to the knees of God, even in the face of apparent silence and lack of movement. The older brother's life was saved."

From 'Killing Fields, Living Fields', Don Cormack (Monarch Books, London 1997) p. 339-340

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