“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
In my previous post, I began the story of David and Svea Flood, missionaries to the Congo (formerly the Belgian Congo, then Zaire) in 1921, exactly 100 years ago. I described how they had wanted to reach the unreached people deep in the jungle, but that when they eventually hacked a path through, they were not allowed to enter the villages. Thus they had, along with another Swedish couple, the Ericksons, to built two mud houses in that remote place in which to live. Svea died there shortly after giving birth to her second child, a girl.
I also told how David Flood was so traumatised by the death of his beloved wife that he walked away from the Lord, returning to the mission station and handing the newborn baby to the Ericksons, who had returned earlier. “I’m leaving! I can’t handle these children alone. I’m taking my son with me back to Sweden – but I’m leaving my daughter here with you.”
This week I want to follow the events in the life of their daughter, Aina. Her mother was dead, her father had walked away from the Lord and away from her. Yet what strikes me so powerfully in the events that followed is the faithfulness of the Lord to this child of missionaries.
First, she had to endure another backward step. Within eight months both the Ericksons died suddenly within days of each other. Some said that they were poisoned. So yet again baby Aina was without parents. She was then taken in by an American missionary couple, Arthur and Anna Berg. They called her ‘Aggie’. They brought her back to the United States at age three. They decided to stay in the USA and change from missionary work to pastoral ministry. Aggie, therefore, grew up in South Dakota. She herself came to a personal faith in the Lord and attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst. Years passed. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then to a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area.
That might seem enough of the Lord’s grace in her life, from deserted child in Africa to happy wife and mother in the USA, serving the Lord. But the Lord had much more to write in her story. A strange and unexplained event was to come. One day a Swedish Christian magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it nor could she read Swedish. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo jumped out at her. There, in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross, and on the cross were the words “Svea Flood”. She was looking at the place where her mother had been buried in Africa many years before.
She found a Swedish speaking brother who translated the article for her. It was her family’s story, telling of events in that remote African village - the birth of a white baby, the death of the young mother and the one little African fruit-boy who had been led to Christ by her mother before she died.
Then, amazingly, the magazine told that, after the missionaries had all left, the boy had grown up and later persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article said that gradually he had won all his students to Christ, then how the children led their parents to Christ, and that even the chief had become a Christian. The magazine reported there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village.
You can imagine how impacted she was by these events. Whilst grieving the loss of her birth mother and sad that her father had walked away from the Lord, she yet realised that far from sacrificing their lives for nothing, there had been an unusual fruitfulness. That one seed, that one young boy who brought them fruit from the village during the brief period they had lived outside the village, had become a significant man of God. The one seemingly insignificant seed that Svea Flood had planted before she died had burst forth in unusual fruitfulness. 600 believers in that one village alone.
How true are the words of 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Your labour in the Lord is never in vain… God’s faithfulness to Aggie and to her birth mother, amazing though it is so far, was by no means completed. Read the final part of the story!