Educating missionary children is exciting and exacting. On one hand, few people are more fortunate than missionary kids. They grow up as internationals with the world their home. They roam across Europe or explore Africa as easily as other children go around the block. On the other hand, many missions settings do not offer adequate schooling or needed interaction with other youth.

Ruth Bell Graham vividly remembers September 2, 1933. She was 13. Her father, a missionary surgeon in China, and her mother were sending her to boarding school in what is now Pyongyang, North Korea. For Ruth it was a brutal parting, and she earnestly prayed she would die before morning. But dawn came, her prayers unanswered, she gripped her bags and trudged toward the riverfront. She was leaving all that was loved and familiar: her parents, her Chinese friends, the missionaries, her home, her memories. The Nagasaki Maru carried her down the Whangpoo River into the Yangtze River and on to the East China Sea.

A week later waves of homesickness pounded her like a churning surf. Ruth kept busy by day, but evenings were harder, and she would bury her head in her pillow and cry herself to sleep, night after night, week after week. She fell ill, and in the infirmary she read through the Psalms, finding comfort in Psalm 27:10—Even if my father and mother should desert me, you will take care of me.

Still, the hurt and fear and doubt persisted. Finally, she went to her sister Rosa, also enrolled in Pyongyang. “I don’t know what to tell you to do,” Rosa replied matter-of-factly, “unless you take some verse and put your own name in it. See if that helps.” Ruth picked up her Bible and turned to a favorite chapter, Isaiah 53, and put her name in it: “He was wounded and crushed because of Ruth’s sins; by taking Ruth’s punishment, he made Ruth completely well.”

Her heart leaped, and the healing began.

Has anyone believed us or seen the mighty power Of the Lord in action?Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground, The servant grew up obeying the Lord. By taking our punishment, he made us completely well. (Isaiah 53:1,2a,5b)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Sept. 2.


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