One holiday season years ago, our family was working at a mission hospital in Kenya. On the other side of Africa, in Gabon, our good friends Bill and Mary Beauvais and their three children were working as full-time missionaries.
Gabon was in economic crisis and so were the Beauvais, struggling to provide even the essentials. With Christmas approaching, they felt helpless as their children faced a head-on collision with disappointment.
Three weeks before Christmas, their 4-year-old son, Ryan, spotted the one thing he wanted in an old magazine ad: a small, pink brontosaurus.
His mother knew it was impossible—the ad was three years old, and the item was from a fast food kids' meal. Still, Ryan was convinced a pink dinosaur would be waiting for him that Christmas.
The Friday before Christmas, some neighbors picked up a package for the Beauvais family. Ten months earlier, while we were still home in Illinois, my wife, Cindy, had sent the package in response to Mary's request for some unglamorous but unavailable items, such as a new mop head and some tile grout. Cindy had saved on postage by sending it surface mail. It must have been rowed across the Atlantic, taking a full 10 months to get there.
While putting the package together, Cindy had included some other items: clothes for the kids, tapes, books. She'd found plenty for Ryan's older sisters, about the same age as our girls, but nothing for a 4-year-old boy. Just before closing the package, one item in our toy box caught Cindy's eye—an old toy the girls never played with. She tossed it in the box and sealed it up.
Ten months later, on the day before Christmas, Mary and Bill unpacked the box. It seemed there was something special for everyone—except Ryan. But when they reached the bottom and pulled out a small toy, they were stunned.
A kids' meal leftover, the plastic brontosaurus was a promotional item for the movie The Land Before Time. God delivered the one thing utterly impossible for Ryan's parents to provide, one thing no adult would have been foolish enough even to consider praying for.
A pink dinosaur.
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine. Click here for reprint information on Today's Christian.