Missionaries Dick and Margaret Hillis found themselves caught in China during the Japanese invasion. The couple lived with their two children in the inland town of Shenkiu. The village was tense with fear, for every day brought terrifying reports of the Japanese advance. At the worst possible time, Dick developed appendicitis, and he knew his life depended on making the long journey by ricksha to the hospital. On January 15, 1941, with deep foreboding, Margaret watched him leave.
Soon the Chinese colonel came with news. The enemy was near and townspeople must evacuate. Margaret shivered, knowing that one-year-old Johnny and two-month-old Margaret Anne would never survive as refugees. So she stayed put. Early next morning she tore the page from the wall calendar and read the new day’s Scripture. It was Psalm 56:3—What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.*
The town emptied during the day, and next morning Margaret arose, feeling abandoned. The new verse on the calendar was Psalm 9:10—Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
The next morning she arose to distant sounds of gunfire and worried about food for her children. The calendar verse was Genesis 50:21—I will nourish you and your little ones. An old woman suddenly popped in with a pail of steaming goat’s milk, and another straggler arrived with a basket of eggs.
Through the day, sounds of warfare grew louder, and during the night Margaret prayed for deliverance. The next morning she tore the page from the calendar to read Psalm 56:9—When I cry unto Thee, then shall my enemies turn back. The battle was looming closer, and Margaret didn’t go to bed that night. Invasion seemed imminent. But the next morning, all was quiet. Suddenly, villagers began returning to their homes, and the colonel knocked on her door. For some reason, he told her, the Japanese had withdrawn their troops. No one could understand it, but the danger had passed. They were safe.
Margaret glanced at her wall calendar and felt she had been reading the handwriting of God.
When I pray, Lord God, my enemies will retreat, because I know for certain that you are with me. I praise your promises! I trust and am not afraid. No one can harm me. (Psalm 56:9-11)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Jan. 15.