T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S
Junior King's Business By MARTHA S. HOO K ER
A MOUNTAIN BOY’S THANKFUL HEART*
B y M rs . B. D. M c A nlis his parents are too poor to have a doctor come this far to see him. Besides, there is only one good doctor in this whole big county in the mountains! - What can be done for Ruford’s leg? But, as we look at the lad’s bright eager face, we remember the real purpose of our visit—to hear him recite his verses. He has learned them every one. How well he re peats them, not missing a single word! The missionaries gladly place in his hands the precious Testament, probably the only book in this household. How carefully he holds it, turning its pages, feeling that it has sure ly been worth while to earn this beautiful book. As we wave good-bye to Ruford and his family, we think that we should try to do something about his leg. If he doesn’t get the right kind of care, this eleven-year-old mountain boy may grow up with a stiff leg; or, worse yet, he may never be able to walk. So we talk to God, our heavenly Father, about it, and the missionary decides she will go soon to the Red Cross office in the city to report the case. Days pass, and then one day at the Mis sion House a note from Ruford’s mother is brought by his little sister. W e open it eagerly and learn that Ruford has been asked to come to the hospital away in the big city of Lexington, Ky. There they will take an X-ray picture of his leg and will try to cure him. He must be taken down
H OW would you like to pretend, or "play like” you were going to visit for several weeks in some of the mountaineer homes of boys and girls who live in Kentucky’s hill country? Let’s start out with some friends who are moun tain missionaries. First, let us visit the missionaries’ home. Our friends the mis sionaries live in a modest but comfortable five-room house which serves as a com munity center for the mountain people in this neglected area of the Southern moun tains. While it is a plain little house, it is much better and larger them the moutain families have, because the mountain people are very poor. In many sections of these mountains, the boys and girls have never even attended a Sunday-school. In fact there are no Sunday-schools in these out- of-the-way villages, except in places where home missionaries such as these our friends have come to teach the story of the Lord Jesus Christ who loves boys and girls. Off we go from the Mission House. One of you can ride Billie the horse, but the rest of us will walk. First we must cross the creek to go over to the home of Ruford, a little boy who has sent word asking whether one of the Mission workers would please come to see him and hear him say his Bible verses. For weeks he has had a sore leg, and though he could not go to school or Sunday-school, he could spend his time memorizing many verses from God’s Word. The missionaries have promised to give a New Testament to any one who learns twenty-five selected verses from the Gospel of John. So Ruford has been eager to “earn” his Testament. As we near the creek, we find no bridge upon which to cross, except a log placed from one bank to the other. So we must learn to cross on the “walk log,” as the mountaineers call it. Be careful now and watch your step, or you will splash down into the water in the creek!
the mountain road to ride on a big bus, something he has never done in his life. But his mother writes that he has no coat to wear on the trip, and it is very cold. So we hurriedly look through the boxes of old clothing that have been sent to the Mis sion by far-away friends in other states to help these poor mountain people. Boys’ clothing is hot often found in these pack ages, and we turn away troubled, for we cannot find a boy's coat But let us look among the girls’, coats. Yes, sure enough, here is a plain-looking one that ought to fit Ruford! W e will just take off the fancy buckle, and maybe he will never know that the coat once belonged to a girl. Since we cannot go along with Ruford to the hospital, we will just have to imagine what is happening to him next. W e can picture a little lame boy in the "new" old coat being lifted on to a mule as off he starts for Lexington. Can you imagine what that trip means to Ruford, who has never before been away from his mountain home? Though his sore leg must be hurting him, he probably is- thinking more about the strange sights and experiences of the trip and the big city than he is thinking about his own pain. This mountain lad will never forget the kind-faced doctors who are help ing him in the hospital. Days and weeks pass, during which we often think of Ruford and pray for him— and then some weeks later, we hear the good news that Ruford is home again with his leg all well! Then one day as we look out of the win dow of the Mission House, there are Ruford and his little sister coming up the path, pulling a little home-made wagon! What is it that is piled so high on the little wagon? As they come nearer, we discover that the
wagon is full of com. "We realize that in order to get the wagon across the creek these dear children must have walked several extra miles to cross on a swinging bridge. But why have they come? Lis ten to their happy voices. Ruford is thanking his missionary friends: "Here’s a bushel of com from my patch. I wanted to say ‘thank you’ fer that coat you sent me, ‘cause it fitted fine, and fer all yer help. Thought maybe you’d like this corn to feed yer hens.” The boy puts down the basket, and as the missionaries tell Ruford how very glad they are to receive the corn, they realize that this is indeed a real Thanksgiving gift from a mountain boy's thankful heart—a gift not to themselves alone, but to the Lord Jesus Christ whom he loves.
Ruford is watching with eager joy as we come down the rough little trail road. As we enter his little three-room home, we find him sitting on the floor with his hurt leg stretched straight out. As we look around that poorly furnished house, we notice no rocking chairs, just three split-bottomed straight old chairs. There are no carpets or rugs on the floors. The walls have no plastering; just pages of old magazines or newspapers are past ed on the walls to keep out the cold. How would you like to live in a house like this? W e ask about Ruford’s leg and learn that it is no better. Of course *Founded on fact.
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