By David Peel
Each year, our family volunteers in international mission projects. For example, I have taught Pastors’ Conferences in India, built a seminary in Ukraine, built playgrounds in Africa, completed a church on an island, and run VBS programs in South America.
This past week, our family of five was part of a team that set out to build the mother of all playground for some deserving kids in a children’s home in the Amazon in Southern Colombia. Bellevue Baptist Church has a massive Vacation Bible School that is attended by about 4,000 kids. This year, they raised more than $10,000 to help fund this project.
When we arrived, we were disappointed to arrive to find that the giant tropical hardwood beams that had been special-ordered long ago had been cut into three sections each, I suppose, for ease of transport and to try to deal with their enormous weight. We could still build the metal 50-foot-long swing set, but the wooden structure was to the focus point.
To build it to plan, we needed exactly eight posts over 18 feet long, and eight posts more than 12 feet tall. They needed to be a true 6×6 to fit the concrete holes already pre-poured by advance workers. They weigh something like 70 pounds a cubic foot, and when you drill into one, water pours out as from a coffee-maker. While beams are fairly easy to come by in the states, they are difficult to find properly cut, even in a rain forest. Concrete is preferred there, and is much easier to work with. For instance, power poles, water towers, and columns on porches, are all poured concrete there. The previous lumber order has been placed a long time ago, so there was no guarantee that we would have anything for the week we were there to build this playground.
So, we all held hands and prayed about it. We asked God to help build this playground for the kids. We specifically petitioned for there to be lumber somehow by Monday at noon, just 18 hours away.
Early that next morning, some of the team down to the Amazon River.
This is the way I heard it: There was a man in a canoe type boat, but bigger, and he had one long beam. So they asked if he had any more, or any idea where they can get such massive beams. Through the translator, he asked how many do you need? As I understand the story, the boat had taken on a lot of water, and as they were bailing water out, more beams were revealed. This man (who didn’t even normally come to the port) just happened to just have in his waterlogged boat the following: eight posts over 18 feet long (actually 19’3 long), and eight posts more than 12 feet tall. They needed to be a true 6×6 and all were 6×6!
That’s all he had. It’s all we needed.
Our God knew when those trees were just seeds 100-150 years ago or so, that the very center core would be one day be required to be use that particular morning to build a massive playground, for some kids who need to feel loved. Praise God. He is still answering prayers with “Yes, just watch this!”