There were over 600 of them, names of people that never got their miracles. Waiting for what for many has been a lifetime, the names and maladies of these desperate 600 had been gathered from across Togo by missional seekers offering the gift of hope.
In villages and streets, their stories were given and in return, a possibility of healing and new life.
Many of their fellow countrymen had done the same and, when they were summoned, soon found a temporary home aboard a giant life preserver floating in Togo's coastal port. The staff, all volunteers, of Mercy Ships had been able to restore health, reverse death sentences, and rekindle hope for hundreds of such patients.
But these 600 had not been helped. These were ones whose conditions were too serious or not serious enough, ones who missed their appointed time for treatment, or ones who simply could not be re-found before Mercy's mission had come to an end.
One nurse Ali was not ok with that. She wasn't ok with a gesture of hope but no final culmination of their deepest hopes. So she sent out a petition, recruiting other volunteers into the ministry of mercy; this mission being eternal, one without an expiry date.
She asked for warriors of prayer to lift each name up to the Great Physician, the one who knows their name and their need. Of the 600 names, almost half of them were matched with intercessors. I asked for and received 20 names of children, the first four perfectly matched in age to my own four.
The slip of paper with these names became my nightly prayer roster. Before bed and in bed when counting sheep seemed silly were there were souls to name.
Last week Ali wrote with an update while the ship was once again docked in Togo. It had been five months since her call for aid and that day they were admitting twenty of the 600 who were still waiting. I emailed her then to find out if, by supernatural happenstance, one of those patients might have been one of my 20.
If for just one my prayers were heard, I would have my faith strengthened.
If for just one their miracle had come, I would be reminded that God hears my cry.
If for just one new life was theirs, I would know that last August my own life mattered.
She responded to say that not one, not two, but TEN of the twenty patients they saw last week were from the list I had wept and prayed over!
"WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?!", to quote Ali.
What indeed are the odds that my God would care so much for little ol' privileged, safe, healthy, affluent me that He would send this clanging confirmation that even in a world of need and hurt, He sees ME, He hears ME??
The chances, as it turns out, are pretty good that God does not forget those the world has forgotten. It's pretty good odds that He is still in the business of answering prayers and delivering on miracles.
All we have to do is ask.
p.s. One more answered prayer, Ali is expecting her first baby in August! Would you go and leave a word of congratulations for Ali and, for me, a request that Canada be the first place baby visits after the hospital and grandma's house? :)