An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Faith
A few weeks ago, I was looking over my books to see if I could find a good one to reread. I found an autobiography by Patricia St. John, RN. Patricia grew up in England and became a nurse during the London bombings of World War 2. She nearly dropped out of nursing school because of illness, but God encouraged her to keep going. By this time, her brother, Farnham, was training to be a doctor in London. While she was spending her day off visiting him, he was called to deliver a baby at a home as the sirens sounded and the bombs started dropping. Together they climbed over rubble and broken glass and arrived just in time. “Never shall I forget the feeling of peace and achievement as we sat, with the world apparently exploding around us, and drank hot sweet cups of tea around the bed with that tiny morsel of humanity cradled in his mother’s arms.”
After the war, Farnham went to a mission hospital in Morocco to try and improve relationships between England and Morocco. He ended up remaining there for over 30 years where he and his wife raised their six children. In 1949, Farnham asked Patricia to join him. Their parents approved, so “oblivious of formalities, I packed and went. It did not seem to have occurred to either of us that this was not the way to join a mission and I received a rather surprised letter from headquarters shortly after my arrival. But I was there and there was no turning back; I remained an associate of the mission through all my years of service.”
After Farnham married, Patricia felt led to relocate to a village up in the mountains. She moved into a small whitewashed house with a flat roof which was quickly flooded in the March rains. She was surprised to “meet her saucepan floating across the floor” when she arrived home. Bugs pattered from the rafters in the attic, so she went to buy insect powder. The shopkeeper tried to sell her one powder for bugs on the roof, another for bugs in her bed, and a third for bugs on her body. This seemed a little much, but to her dismay, she later realized that she should have bought all three.
As she studied Arabic hour after hour, she discovered what the simple presence of Jesus could mean when there was no other companionship and no one else who could talk English. Also during that time, her lost manuscript of Treasures of the Snow was found she wrote during the war for children about God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus. She finished writing it, and it was published. (This book is still being published today, is available on Kindle, and is on DVD where it was filmed in the Swiss Alps. It is a beautiful family film which I highly recommend.)
Slowly, the village women and children began to trust her and come to her for medicine and Bible stories. Several received Christ as Savior and were persecuted for their faith, but stood strong. The Muslim village officials began threatening the believers and after much prayer, Patricia decided it would be best if she left the village and went back down the mountain to Tangier to work in the hospital with Farnham and his wife.
Patricia visited a hospital in Egypt for two months to study their nursing school, and then returned to Morocco to start a new school with seven teenagers, their first nursing students. They taught them anatomy, physiology, basic nursing skills, and the Bible. This training was something of an innovation in Morocco, as nearly all the nursing in the government hospitals was done by men. The students did well but struggled spiritually. The cost was high to become a Christian in a Muslim country. “Only a very few have let their light shine clearly and have suffered.”
She continues on with her autobiography in telling about being “auntie” to her many nieces and nephews, her adventures of driving with her sister in her VW camper in the steps of Apostle Paul, visiting Rwanda to write a book on the revival there, and ministering in refugee camps. The only man she ever wanted to marry was killed during the war, so she remained single all her days on earth. While working as a missionary nurse, she continued to write and publish Biblical children’s stories, many of which are still in print and e-book form today.
After I read The Rainbow Garden to my 8-year-old niece, she received Christ as her personal Savior. Patricia also wrote a biography about her father, Harold St John, who was a worldwide evangelist and Bible teacher. I am thoroughly enjoying this book currently. I hope I have shared enough to cause you to read Patricia’s autobiography for yourself and some of her books. I know you will be blessed and encouraged.
“But Jesus said, “Permit the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:14 KJV).