Jesus: A Friend Who Never Fails

Praying and smiling through struggles.

Mila Ramos was born in Portugal and now lives in South Africa. She is enjoying retirement after 31 years as an import/ export assistant at an international pharmaceuticals company. She and her husband have an adult son, Jorge. She enjoys oil painting, piano playing, writing articles and poetry, home crafts, and volunteer work.

Karina* is a small woman with a big heart and an enormous love for the Lord. She is a dear person, and being aware of so many of her real-life stories that may encourage other women to follow her implicit trust in the Lord, I was encouraged to send in this humble article to Shepherdess. She has been rewarded with many touches of His Hand. Why? Is she special? Yes. She is special because she chose Jesus as her best Friend in every walk of her life. Many times, when everybody at home was in deep sleep in the very early hours of the morning, she was kneeling in prayer to the Lord. She exercises her faith by practicing what she knows to be the Truth.

Karina has two lovely daughters who are now married with families of their own. When the girls were still teenagers and studying at one of our colleges in South Africa, life was good to them, and they lived quite comfortably, as the family business was quite prosperous. However, life is very unstable in this secular world, and things suddenly changed, and the family was destitute almost overnight. Although people claim that money is the root of all evil, we, unfortunately, cannot live without it.

As the days went by, the situation became more complicated, and Karina had to start selling their most precious possessions to continue living with the bare essentials. Accounts had to be paid, college bills couldn’t wait, and the family needed food to survive. Although Karina tried her best to keep the girls as comfortable as possible and the rest of the family unaware of the difficult financial situation that prevailed, eventually they all came to terms with reality. It started hurting when they had to sell the piano and the quality carpets in their home and when the BMW was repossessed by the bank. Karina was forced to find a job, although the family also depended on the mercy of family and friends who finally discovered what a terrible situation they were in.

Finally, she was forced to take the ancient Ford Granada out of the garage and drive it to the girls’ school and to work. How could they maintain a car with petrol when they hardly had money for the food their stomachs needed? Miraculously, this vehicle ran on air for the first couple of days. However, one day it happened. At a red light, the Granada stopped and wouldn’t move. She felt embarrassed as she knew nothing about mechanics and didn’t have the strength to push the car to the side. In no time, she felt the presence of a fine gentleman near her, asking if he could help. Very candidly she said, “I do not know why the car has stalled.” (She was honest and did not believe there was a mechanical problem.) He checked here and there and voil! “Madam, the problem is that the tank went dry. You need to put petrol in your tank.” He must have read the anguished look on her face as she touched her empty purse. Suddenly and without a word, he pulled the car to a nearby garage, ordered the attendant to fill it up, paid for the petrol, and disappeared. This was miracle number one. Karina smiled toward heaven. She was a partner with the Lord, and she quietly thanked Him with tears in her eyes. Saved for another couple of weeks, it seemed as if this old car was propelled by the wind. Surely, she thought, the angels of the Lord were pushing it most of the time. Why I do not have such faith that accepts miracles as a result of my connection with God? Is He as real as that? Oh yes, He rewards His children according to their dependence and relationship with Him.

Miracle number two (and she has numerous to share) was on another occasion, while the family was still struggling. The girls had been complaining for a while that their contact lenses needed to be lubricated with two rinsing fluids; otherwise, their eyes were red and sore, and they could hardly see the blackboard. At the time, Karina was desperately trying to sell books (colporteuring). Anybody that has done this sort of work knows that it requires dedication and patience before you get any money as a result of sales. The days went by without a single sale. This specific day as she was returning home (not discouraged, as this word does not exist in her vocabulary) she felt apprehensive for not being able again to bring home the contact lens solution for the children.

Five o’clock was approaching, but she was impressed to go to the bank before going home. She told herself that this would be a waste of time as she knew that her savings account showed a measly R37.00 (US$3.70), and the required medicine cost much more than that. Yet, following her feeling, she went in, obtained an account balance, and could not believe her eyes when she saw the amount of R385.00 (US$38.50), ten times more than the amount she thought was there. (Seventeen years ago, that was quite an amount of money.) With disbelief she inquired at the counter and was informed by the bank attendant that a few days prior, a bank transfer from overseas had been deposited into her account. Immediately she realized that the money was from her mom, who had been impressed by the Lord to send some money, knowing that Karina was in financial difficulty. Never in her life was such an amount of money so welcomed. A few months before, when she was living a prosperous life, she would have treated that as crumbs, not money. Once again she knew that her constant prayer for the Lord to send the means to buy the medicine for the girls had been answered. That, of course, wasn’t a lot of money, but when you are in need (if you readers have already experienced a similar situation, you can testify to this), any small sum means a lot. Do you see how the puzzle fits perfectly when God and humans are connected? What are you thinking? That it probably would have happened anyway even if she wasn’t a believer? No way. The difference here was that she never doubted that some response would come from above, and her belief was rewarded.

And the strange thing with Karina is that in her heart there is continual praise even for heavy trials in life. She even finds a blessing in falling down the steps and breaking a leg. Whereas I might be discouraged or upset with the Lord for allowing difficult situations to come my way, she always extracts some positive reason to praise the Lord, even before her problems are resolved. It is easy to give glory when you have good health and a fat bank account, but when you do not know what to put on the table the next day, never mind the rest of your financial commitments—this is to live by faith.

Praying and smiling is the way this small and faithful woman struggles through her days. If this hardship in their lives was a test of faith, I do not know, but surely her life touched my life and that of many others, especially because we had the great joy to see her put her two girls through university and see them graduate mostly with her financial help and encouragement. Seventeen  years have passed since then, and when I visit her in the country where she presently lives, it is with tears in my eyes that I see people that she encounters in the street almost kiss the ground she steps on. I see children leaving the hands of their mothers and running to hug Aunty Karina, elderly ladies whispering words of thanks to her for the physical help she gave them, needy people thanking her for sharing with them her meager mites. She receives from the Lord, and she shares her blessings with others. She is a small woman with a great heart and huge love for the Lord.

* Not her real name

Mila Ramos was born in Portugal and now lives in South Africa. She is enjoying retirement after 31 years as an import/ export assistant at an international pharmaceuticals company. She and her husband have an adult son, Jorge. She enjoys oil painting, piano playing, writing articles and poetry, home crafts, and volunteer work.