Monday, August 26, 2013

And Manna still falls from Heaven

It is March of 1939 and as the result of a severe and prolonged drought in the area the 52 people at the Namba Mission station located in central Angola in Africa, as well as some 400 members of the Seles tribe were on the verge of starvation.  The crops had died and even the grasshoppers that the natives had been eating were gone.  The mission was far removed from any settlements, and there was little money to buy food even if any had been available.

On this particular day the mission director Pastor Carlos Carpenter was away visiting some of the area schools.  His wife, W H Carpenter, because there was no more food to be had at the mission called the mission personal in for a prayer meeting.  “We have run out of food,” she said. “We must remember God’s promises and ask him to ‘give us this day our daily bread.’”  Then after reading to them passages from the Bible recounting how God had given manna to his people in the time of Moses, they prayed.

As they were engaged in prayer, Mrs. Carpenter’s five year old daughter wandered outside.  A short time later the praying company looked up as she came back in.  They were surprised to see her munching on handfuls of some kind of small white morsels. 

“What are you eating?” her mother asked.

“Manna, the ground is covered with it.”  Then she described some men dressed all in white who said to her, “God has answered your prayers and has sent you food, just as in the days of Mosses.  It is manna.  Take it and eat it.” 

Hurrying outside to see for themselves, they discovered the ground l literally covered with small, irregularly shaped white lumps.  The famished people, after satisfying their hunger, gathered up as much of the manna as they could.  For three day the manna came, but only on the 40 acres of cleared land belonging to the mission.  For these three days they gathered the manna into every available container until they had no more room to store it.  This manna was enough to sustain the people until the drought passed and crops could be harvested once more.  Samples of this miraculous food was sent to a number of people.  It tasted like honey and those who ate it sensed that it was a whole food in itself.

And the manna still falls to this day.  Not in the vast quantities it did during those three days in the midst of the famine when they were able to gather enough to sustain them until the famine was over, but like clockwork a small amount of the manna falls twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday.  Why?  Nobody knows for sure, but perhaps as a continuing witness to an ever more skeptical and unbelieving generation that the God who brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt and provided for their every need is still both willing and able to deliver His children and provide for their needs today.

Some of the manna was sent for analysis to the Thomson Laboratory of Mass Spectrometery, Institute of Chemistry, in Campinas, Brazil in June 2011.  It was found to consist largely of oligosacharides, (see along with a large number of other nutrients. The entire analysis consists of an 11 page report. I do not know if that report is available online.  The conclusion of the report was that it is a good source of nutrients for the human diet.