Alison was readjusting to life back in London after living somewhere quite different for nearly 8 years. It wasn’t easy; she didn’t feel as if she quite belonged. She had been told to expect this “reverse culture shock”. Here the roads were busy, and life had a rush to it that she had forgotten, while living at the Leprosy Hospital in a small Himalayan Kingdom.
She missed the friends she had made, some of whom had been leprosy sufferers. She missed the simple life and the beauty of the mountains. Since leaving, she had received several letters from those people she’d said goodbye to, and these lived tucked into her worn out Bible.
One of the most precious gifts she’d received was a woven shoulder bag, green with pink and yellow traditional patterns decorating it. A leprosy sufferer who had been living at the hospital for several months made it while she’d been waiting for her prosthetic legs to be moulded and then had leant to walk with them. Alison carefully added a zip to this to prevent pick pockets back in London.
It was a short walk from the flat she was now renting to her church, for the evening meeting. Her Bible was zipped into her treasured bag, along with a folding umbrella and her diary. She was just crossing a side street, when she was pulled off balance by a tug, as her bag was pulled off her shoulder. She stumbled into a parked car before righting herself and realising what had happened. The thief was running up the side street and a sudden surge of anger propelled Alison up the road after him. She yelled several times, hoping someone would hear and come to her aid. She hadn’t thought what she would do if she caught him up, but she couldn’t let her bag be taken with out trying to get it back. The snatcher disappeared and Alison ran out of adrenaline and made it shakily to the church where friends helped her call the police. They drove around the area, but there was no sign of the thief or the bag.
The next day she was on a late shift at the hospice where she now worked, and she was a little anxious thinking that after her shift she would have to catch the bus at the end of the leafy avenue after dark. As she was putting her things in the locker, in the changing room, a care assistant from another ward was there. This lady had been on a study day once with Alison, but otherwise they didn’t know each other well. She smiled and said, “You live near me, don’t you? Would you like a lift home tonight, my daughter is coming to pick me up.” Alison didn’t hesitate in accepting the offer.
As she got into the car that evening, Alison told the colleague and her daughter that they were an answer to prayer and explained about her bag being snatched the evening before. Her colleague beamed and said that she had felt prompted by God to offer the lift; her and her daughter were both Christians. Alison felt loved by God who had turned a bad situation into an opportunity to show His care through these fellow believers.
Alison wrote to her friends far away and told them the story of the lost bag, lost letters and lost Bible, but also of the offered lift. They wrote back and those with faith said they were praying.
It was a month later when the phone at work rang and it was the police wanting to speak to Alison. Had she lost any property? Could she describe it and the contents? It had been found!
When she told them it had been stolen, they kept it longer and finger- printed what they could. So, finally it was returned to her, with everything still inside except for the umbrella. Alison wonders whether her Bible was ever read by the thief. She is delighted to have the bag back and enjoys telling this story of God’s care and answer to prayer. So, listen out for God’s promptings, it may seem like a little thing He’s asking you to do, but He may be wanting you to be an answer to someone’s prayer.