God’s providence and guiding hand are often wonderful things to behold – in looking back – but perhaps not so pleasant at the time.
Jonathan and Deborah Wade were missionaries in Burma, where Brother Jonathan served for fifty-seven years, during which time he took several furloughs because of failing health. In December 1847, ill-health once again struck the couple, and another long trip home was required, despite the mourning of their many native friends and believers. The first leg of their journey was to leave their home among the Karen people and travel to Maulmain. For four weeks they awaited for an American ship which would take them. Two vessels came and went, but refused the Wades because as one captain put it: “for [the other passengers] should be annoyed all the voyage with efforts for their conversions.” Finally an old English wooden ship accepted their passage. Sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, it was leaking so badly that the pumps had to be manned night and day to keep them afloat. Finally, they reached St. Helena in the south Atlantic, the place where Napoleon had been exiled for a while.
In St. Helena the Wades had to wait three months before they could find another ship that would take them to America. They were invited to stay with an American lady who had an estate several hundreds of feet above the shore line. It was a place which caught the fresh sea breezes and helped to restore the missionary’s heath. Previously, a little Baptist church had been established on the island, but it was in a sad condition until Brother Wade was invited to do some preaching and teaching, during which time God blessed, and it prospered.
Eventually a ship returning to Boston took on the Wades, who were by this time in much better health, and on this day in 1847 they arrived safely at home. They carried with them a letter from the St. Helena church commending their character and ministry.
If the Wades had caught one of the first ships home from Burma, they might not have had the opportunity to minister on St. Helena. If their ship had not been in such a sad state, they would not have been available for the Lord’s use either. It must have been perplexing and aggravating to them at the time. But the Lord was in it all for His own glory.