Happenings

‘A gift – from the Lord Himself’

Jul 2006    

Mrs Vera Ostrom, Methodist missionary in Sumatra, tells the story of Ah Moi’s faith and her sacrificial offering given out of love for her Lord.

 

AH MOI and the Bok Su Niu (Pastor’s wife) had been good Christian friends in Bagan Si Api-Api. They had read the Bible and prayed together, and Ah Moi had begun teaching a Sunday School class and had found great joy in knowing that there was something she could do for her Master.

At the Sunday church services, the Bok Su’s (Pastor’s) sermons week by week had given her courage and inspiration for her hard life as a fisherman’s wife. Her husband too had grown to know and like the Bok Su and had twice accompanied Ah Moi to the church service. She had dreamt that he might also become a follower of the Christ she loved.

As the Depression reached Bagan, she and her husband decided to move to a smaller town, where although they were not prosperous, they had enough to eat.

One morning, she received a letter from the Bok Su Niu, “asking every member to give something to help the church at this time. Even the children are giving their pennies. Perhaps you can send us a small gift, too”.

Feeling homesick, Ah Moi, who had not seen a single Christian for a year, felt a burning need to express in some way her love to the Christ whose presence was her daily strength. If only she had something she could sell or pawn – a ring, a pin, a comb or anklet from more prosperous days, but nothing remained.

My husband is kind, she thought. He has been gone these many days fishing. If he should get a good load, surely he would give me something. But now the loads are so small, and last month, it fetched only thirty guilders. When each man has his share, there is almost nothing left. Sometimes though, the loads fetch two hundred guilders, and if he could get a hundred-guilder load, I would ask him for ten guilders to send to Bagan for the church.

With shut eyes and deeply bowed head, she whispered hoarsely, “O Lord! Lord! Give him a hundred-guilder load that I may ask ten guilders of him for your church in Bagan.” In silent wordless entreaty she waited before the Lord, until at last the crying of her little son broke through her prayer, and she opened her eyes to find him beside her, frightened by her strangeness. She comforted him and went to prepare their dinner.

But, the worry had gone from her heart. A strange, glad expectancy filled it instead. She was absolutely sure that her prayer had been heard and would be answered. She waited eagerly for her husband’s return, and that night after putting the children in bed, she heard his knocking at the door. Quickly opening it, she saw her husband entering with his arm full of packages. Unloaded on the table, she saw a pile of silver: the load had sold for one hundred sixteen guilders, he told her.

Ah Moi looked at the pile on the table. Had it fallen from Heaven, she would not have been more certain that it had come from God’s hand. She told her husband of her prayer and promise to the Lord, and he gladly gave her the ten guilders.

The next day, Ah Moi embarked on the boat hired by her husband to take the money to Bagan. The ride was long, and by the time she arrived, it was, she remembered, prayer meeting evening, and she prayed that they would not be too late.

Arriving just as the prayer meeting was starting, she was surprised to see it very crowded, just as the Holy Communion was being celebrated.

It was a special service, and Ah Moi pressed into the room, looking somehow like the Madonna that looked out from beneath the folds of her shawl. This was an older face, thin and worn and in no way beautiful. Yet something in this face drew every eye in the room.

Ah Moi saw her friend Bok Su Niu and hurried to her side, joining the others in the hymn of praise, and while they were singing, she drew a folded ten-guilder bill from her belt and laid it in Bok Su Niu’s hand.

“There it is! This is my gift to the church! But it is not from me,” she added. “It is from the Lord Himself.”
– MM, May-June 1934, pages 6 & 7, edited.

Earnest Lau, the Associate Editor of Methodist Message, is also the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

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