Shepherdess: Trust in Spite of Tragedy

Trust in Spite of Tragedy. Courage rooted in the promises of God enables a missionary couple to face an overwhelming trial.

Shirley A. McGarrell is president of a group of ministers' wives in Guyana. She makes her home in Georgetown.
Dear Shepherdess: My husband and I live in one of a group of town houses in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. There are eighteen Christian families living in the group. Often we gather on the lawn or in one of the homes for an hour of worship and song. One evening Dr.

Charles Taylor read 2 Corinthians 4 from The Living Bible. Verses 8 and 9 struck a responsive chord in my heart: "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don't know why things hap pen as they do, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. "*

How grateful we are for this assurance as we pass through trials. With the heavenly Father holding our hand, we never need to fear defeat. It was this kind of assurance that enabled the missionary parents to bear the tragedy described in the story I am sharing with you this month. Truly we can all say, What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus, our Lord. With love, Kay.

It was a beautiful afternoon, the tropical sunshine bearing down with its usual luster and brilliance. Two little children—Herve, 2 years and 9 months, and his baby sister, Geraldine, 1 year and 3 months—hugged their toys as they trudged from their home to the hospital a block away. Herve and Geraldine were the only children of Dr. and Mrs. Andre Celestin, who had come from Haiti to serve at the Davis Memorial Clinic and Hospital in Georgetown, Guyana.

The children were walking to the hospital because their doctor father had decided they need to be hospitalized for a seemingly innocent illness that had brought some degree of discomfort two days before. The children were put to bed, and appropriate procedures were set up—intravenous infusions and medications.

The children's condition did not deteriorate, and they seemed to be on the way to recovery. Then suddenly, like a change in the weather, a crisis developed. The little hospital hummed with activity, and the room where the children lay became the focal point of the physicians' efforts.

Many fervent prayers were sent up to our heavenly Father on behalf of the children, but at 4:00 A.M. on March 24 little Geraldine died. The brokenhearted father, Dr. Celestin, and the other physicians, were puzzled. Desperate yet prayerful efforts were made to save the life of little Herve.

Through the kindness of the Guyana Ministry of Health and many loving friends, on Sunday morning, March 25, Dr. Celestin took Herve to the San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad, where special expertise and equipment were available. But the efforts of the medical specialists were in vain, and on Tuesday, March 27, Herve died.

During this difficult experience, Dr. and Mrs. Celestin had their courage rooted in the precious promises of God. Although their hearts are heavy with sorrow, yet they know that someday a golden day will break, and the sunshine of the resurrection will sweep away the darkness of the tomb forever. The joy of these parents will be unspeakable as little Herve and Geraldine are borne by angels and placed into the arms of their loving parents. "Hasten on, glad day!"


Prayers from the parsonage

by Cherry B. Habenicht

Father, what can be done about the schism in this congregation? Why do people seem to need approval from one group while isolating others as opponents or enemies? Must there always be an alignment of sides, a choice between those who are in or out of favor?

No one can say who started the misunderstanding, but everyone is sure it is "someone else's" fault. Each family cherishes its tale of injustice, and the cold war continues.

We do not want to encourage anyone to rehash years of grievances. As long as animosities smolder, our attempts at solving the problem will be futile. Only Your Spirit can convict of error and lead to repentance. We need His presence to heal wounds in individual hearts.

Strengthen Dick and me for the emotionally draining task of dealing with stubborn members. Help us to walk carefully a middle road, refusing to be drawn into controversy unless principle is involved. Separate factions vie for our favor, but we cannot support individual causes. Please keep us objective.

Can ears dulled by criticism hear Your voice? Can lips tainted by accusations speak Your words? Can minds poisoned by revenge comprehend Your will? "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

O God of peace, bring these contentious groups together. Unite this church, that it may no longer betray You.


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Shirley A. McGarrell is president of a group of ministers' wives in Guyana. She makes her home in Georgetown.

September 1979

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