A Cry from a Coffin

Her father, a respected, educated man in rural Peru was not pleased to hear of another addition to his already large family. He had no trouble telling his wife to “get rid of it.” He was a medical doctor who was an alcoholic and had a side job performing abortions, so he knew what needed to be done. Her answer that day was stern as she stood up to him and said “No”, my baby stays where it is and will be born, and that is exactly what happened.

Months later, that little baby girl went through the birth struggle and arrived into this world healthy and strong. Yet within a few hours she became extremely ill, limp, stiff and silent. They rushed her to the hospital where they discovered a dreaded disease had attacked this newborn baby – Tetanus. It appeared she was dying right in front of them. At the hospital it was determined that nothing could be medically done .They took her home and tried to rouse her, but could get no response. She was pronounced dead and placed in a little coffin, similar to the one pictured below.
As was their custom, friends and family gathered at their home with tearful greetings and dishes of food. The baby was viewed in an open coffin in a separate room. The guests stayed many hours and then left to freshen up for the funeral that was scheduled the next day. They had named her Rosa, after a relative, so they could fill out a death certificate. The family tried to rest in anticipation of what was to follow the next day.

The morning of the funeral, friends and relatives arrived again to greet the family and grieve over baby Rosa. That is when the grace of God moved in a mighty way. While preparing for the funeral service, Rosa’s mother heard a sound from the open coffin and was immediately on full alert. She ran to the coffin and heard a miraculous thing. The cry of a little infant telling the world, “I’m still here!” Rosa was alive! God had decided that this little baby girl would have a life to live. To say everyone rejoiced would be an understatement. Although her life had a very tenuous beginning, Rosa would grow up to be a happy little girl from Peru, chosen to serve God in a unique and special way.
Shortly after her 8th birthday Rosa received a Christmas shoebox from someone in America named Rachel. Her memory of this event is very specific. Inside the box were crayons, pencils, coloring books, toiletries, a small ball, a teddy bear, hair ties, a New Testament Bible and of course the letter from Rachel. Although her parents were not Christians, she then began attending a Christian church with her grandmother, and later in her 8th year she gave her heart to Jesus and was born again. She loved to help with children at the church and soon was singing songs about Jesus in many different places.
Rachel does not know about the impact the box she lovingly packed had in the life of Rosa, and the way her efforts had helped change eternity. Someday she will find out at that great awards day in Heaven or perhaps someone reading this story will put two and two together and cause these strangers to find each other. Who Knows, stranger things have happened.

Later, Rosa was blessed to see her mother become a believer in Jesus, and then her alcoholic father also became a Christian. He battled his addiction to alcohol and through God’s wonderful grace was set free from it. Actually, he was able to use his medical skills and his testimony while traveling to small villages in the region. The journey from an unbelieving couple with what appeared to be a dead child to a family of faith was amazing. The child he didn’t want, and was ready to kill, became a deeply loved daughter.
As Rosa grew older, she matured in her faith and became increasingly involved in ministry. She completed high school and went on to attend classes at the university. One of her missionary friends, Brandon, became intrigued with an unusual idea. He had a friend, Eric, who lived in Arkansas who loved Jesus and had once before visited Peru on a mission trip. Eric Bryant had finished his university degree and was praying about who God might have for him to marry. Brandon invited Eric to come to Peru for a three month extended mission trip, but also with something additional on his agenda.

Eric was excited to come and assist the mission work without knowing that Brandon was intending some match making as well as Christian missionary service. The fact that Rosa did not speak English and Eric did not speak Spanish was a major factor. This project would have considerable difficulties ahead.

When Eric was introduced to Rosa he knew in his heart, on that very first day, that she was the one for him even when her response to meeting him was cordial but cool at the very best. She was attending the university, working a job, and volunteering in the mission. She didn’t feel the need to add this guy from Arkansas, who she couldn’t communicate with, to the list. Eric wasn’t deterred as he dove into learning Spanish with total dedication. He also started knocking on Heaven’s door about this situation. If anything was going to happen between him and Rosa, it would have to be a work of God’s grace.

Only in the last week of his stay did her heart begin to soften toward Eric. When she was not around him she missed him. His heart was captured by this Peruvian beauty on the first day he met her, and her heart was captured by this American young man about three months later, just a day or two before he left. They had their first date and professed their love for each other as tears flowed. Within hours she watched him leave to go back to the States.
The letters, texts, and phone calls between these separated young people will be information that will be left for their minds and hearts only. Within six months, they were engaged and the arrangements for a wedding began. Government paperwork and other details forced them to wait another year. And then there he was in Peru to pick her up and take her to America to be his bride.

He was ready, she was ready, but the airline was not. Their flight out of Peru was cancelled at the last minute. All other flights were completely booked. A tearful Rosa pleaded with the airline that had the last flight out that night. And can you believe it? Two people cancelled their trip and those two beautiful young people were on their way to a wonderful life together.

What a story of God’s grace as He moved to spare a baby’s life, used a Christmas shoebox to draw that child to Himself, saved her mother and father, and bring her a godly husband with whom she could barely communicate. Oh, let’s not forget that they now have heard the wonderful birth cries of four beautiful and healthy babies of their own.
After proving herself in volunteer service in the Children’s Ministry at Southside Baptist Church, Rosa has new responsibility. She is the Preschool Director at the Warner Robins church.
Isn’t God’s Grace a wonderful thing?

Roger Allen Cook

I love to write stories about God’s grace.  If you have a story I should consider, please contact me at:    roger.cook@southsidefamily.com    

Other stories can be viewed at Southside.church/grace