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The Walking Tree Limb

The Walking Tree Limb

How important is it to pray for missionaries? This story from the 1960s in Kenya illustrates how the prayers of God's people can intervene—even in areas of life and death.

The water pump was broken, and it had to be fixed or Tenwek Hospital and the rest of the mission station would have no water. The bulky pump near the water’s edge, surrounded by tropical trees, had the entire focus of missionaries Carl Waggoner and Gene Lewton’s attention.

In the midst of their concentration, a flicker of movement nearby drew Carl's eye. He glanced up and at first, he thought his eyes were tricking him; it looked like one of the nearby tree limbs was moving toward them. He quickly realized that it was not a tree limb but an Egyptian cobra, which is extremely poisonous. It was stalking them with its head raised about a foot in the air.

Carl shouted, “Gene, get into the jeep now!” The men scrambled into the jeep and then watched the snake as it disappeared into the water. Badly shaken by this frightening experience, Carl and Gene returned to the mission. But they wondered: Why had the snake not struck the distracted men?

About ten days later, the missionaries learned by letter of another event that had happened in Ohio. In the middle of the night, one of Mary Waggoner’s sisters had been awakened and been alarmed concerning the safety of the Waggoners. She was certain that something was wrong. She and her husband prayed for the Waggoners’ safety. In her letter, she asked if there had been any special need at a specific hour. Taking into consideration the difference in time, it was discovered that Carl and Gene were facing the poisonous cobra at the very hour Mary awoke in the night.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV).

Want to take a step in praying regularly for missionaries? Check out the Prayer Calendar, where every missionary, MK, support staff member, retiree, and board member is noted by name. Thank you for continuing this powerful legacy of prayer!

The Best of the Story: Miraculous Answers to Prayer (published 1993, reprinted 2001) was written by WGM retiree Burnis Bushong. The purpose of the book is to share prayer stories experienced by WGM missionaries over the years. We hope these stories inspire you to pray for missions activities around the world. A new story is posted each month.

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