An old friend and long term missionary has sent me an urgent message. Her name is Alison* and she is based in Burundi, a landlocked country that’s located where East and Central Africa converge

She and her husband, Paul*, have been thinking they have caught a common cold, but now their symptoms are suggesting malaria.

They are experiencing high fevers, soaring temperatures, persistent headaches, night sweats that soak the sheets, cold shivers, insatiable insomnia, fatigue, and bodies that ache all over. She believes mosquitoes may have bitten them when they stayed in a lakeside lodge, with ill-fitting bed nets, during a recent rest week. Please will we pray?

A neighbour kindly accompanies them to the hospital, where communicating in French and broken English causes confusion. When malaria tests prove positive, it’s unclear whether medical insurance will cover their costs. Please will we pray?

Paul is given a hospital gown and admitted onto a ward, while Alison returns home to care for their toddler son and breastfeeding baby daughter, where she takes a call from the insurance company, who agree to pay for their medical care.

“How can something so tiny create such havoc?” she muses.

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito,” I remind her, quoting Dame Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop, a British cosmetics, skin care and perfume company.

The following day, Alison is also admitted to hospital. With both parents vomiting, oral medication does not stay down, so the only solution is for each to be hooked up to an intravenous drip. Both are exhausted, acutely aware of how far away they are from family, and wondering what to do about childcare. Their Burundian friends are facing a lot of pressures, and won’t necessarily be able to help. Please will we pray?

Paul’s mother offers to come out from the UK, to look after the grandchildren, but obtaining a visa normally takes three to four weeks. Please will we pray?

Miraculously, she is granted an expedited emergency visa. Two days later, she is in Burundi.

And then the baby tests positive too. Please will we pray?

She consistently shows no symptoms. It seems she has contracted a less aggressive strain of malaria.

One of the Burundian doctors allows his young children to accompany him into the hospital. They make the mark of a cross on the foreheads of Alison, Paul, and their daughter, praying in the name of Jesus for healing, blessing and restoration for the whole family. The experience is deeply humbling and moving.

“It is so utterly different here,” Alison remarks, referring to the contrast between British self-sufficient cynical secularism and the Burundian faith-filled acknowledgement of their need of God.

Within a week, all three are discharged and on the road to recovery.

Whether we are near or far, cynical or faith-filled, young or more mature; whatever our nationality, wherever we are located, however we articulate ourselves; if we pray in the name of Jesus, our prayers are never too small to make a difference.


*Christian names used with consent.

[Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash]



  1. bettyboo76 Reply

    What an amazing story! I love the way the doctors involved his children in such a simple but powerful act. Thanks for sharing

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