by John O’Malley
“Could you thank Me for trusting you with this experience even if I never tell you why?”
Dear Missions Family,
I read this account while studying for a series of lectures on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Below is the testimony of a missionary, Dr. Helen Roseveare.
“Dr. Helen Roseveare is no stranger to terror. This medical missionary lived in the Congo for over 12 years. Then one day she experienced the trauma of her life. During a time of severe disunity between the blacks and the whites, a civil uprising erupted.
Why? Oh God, why? The why in life is the most common question of all…especially during a time of terror.
During a 10 week siege, thousands of black natives were butchered. As a result, the whites became enemies of the blacks, and 27 missionaries were slaughtered. The remaining missionaries were taken captive, and on one horrific night Dr. Helen Roseveare was flung to the ground, kicked, beaten and raped; her teeth broken, her ribs bruised, her mouth and her nose severely gashed.
On the night of her rape, she couldn’t understand why all this was happening to her. She literally wanted to die because she knew the brutality that fellow missionaries had experienced. Yet God quietly spoke to her, “Could you thank Me for trusting you with this experience even if I never tell you why?”
Helen thought, God, I thank You. I haven’t a clue why or how, but I’ll take it from You that You know what You’re doing, that You can never make a mistake. You cannot fail. Your promise must stand true. So, God I’ll thank You for trusting me with this even though I haven’t any idea how anybody could ever be helped by it.
Soon afterward, Helen received the death sentence along with the other missionaries. As they were herded away in a group, she had to lean against others to walk because her body had been so brutalized.
When the leader of the rebels spotted her, he asked, “Who made you in that mess?”
She answered, “One of your lot.”
The rebel leader responded, “You’re a liar.”
She said, “I’ll name him for you.”
So, the rebel leader called a People’s Court. However, before they assembled he instructed the tribesmen to yell, “She’s a liar….She’s a liar!” after her testimony.
The time came for her trial. She truthfully told this large assembly the details of the assault. Then something miraculous happened. When she finished, the voices of 800 men were heard weeping. They recognized that this was their doctor speaking. She had birthed their babies, cared for their cuts, and nursed their wounds. Yet, to their dismay, one of their own had raped her.
To her amazement, over the weeks and months that ensued, a spiritual breakthrough occurred for the first time in 12 years—a breakthrough that had never occurred before. People were saved…hearts were touched because finally they identified with her suffering. Even the Greeks in the area wanted to know how to come into this relationship with Jesus Christ, and they were saved.
Later, back in her native country of England, Helen was a frequent guest speaker. One evening she was led by the Lord to take the rare opportunity to refer to her rape. There were two girls still left in the auditorium after she had finished speaking. One girl asked, “Can you speak to my sister? Five weeks ago she was raped…for five weeks she has not spoken a word to anyone.”
The other girl ran, sobbing uncontrollably, and flung her arms around Helen. For three hours this young victim of rape talked nonstop about the incident. Ultimately, the two who had shared the same experience parted—both with peace in their hearts. What made the difference? The young girl simply said, “No one ever told me that I could thank Him for trusting me with the experience even if He didn’t tell me why.”
Helen’s lesson reminds us we can thank God for the experience even if He never tells us why. Yes, God brought you where you are. He brought you to a place knowing your life’s baggage and scars. God owes no explanation to His children. God is always working out His plan through us.
When heavy-hearted and lost in your thoughts of life’s difficulties, remember this, God has a plan.
“Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.”
—part of a poem given to Helen Roseveare as a teenager
Yours for the harvest,
If this article has been an encouragement to you, you can email Bro. O’Malley here to let him know.