A Dramatic Intervention

Ed and Edna Ratzliff with their three small children came to serve as missionaries with SIM in Ethiopia in 1947, several years after Nathan and Doris Barlow had become established in Soddo. Like Nathan and Doris, they were forced to leave in 1976 when the communists took over.

They published a book of letters they wrote during their time of service called Letters from the Uttermost Parts of the Earth. These letters describe some of the relationships they had with other SIM missionaries.

The Ratzliff’s were supposed to start a pioneer work in a new location several hours from Soddo. They arrived in Soddo with all of their belongings just before Christmas in 1948. After resting a bit, they drove with Dr. Barlow over difficult terrain to the new location. There they ran into some snags with the local government and were not allowed to stay on the new mission property. Ed stayed to manage some details and Edna and her children drove back to Soddo with Dr. Barlow. In a letter dated Dec 28, 1948 (pg 46), Edna describes the following incident from that trip, which dramatically illustrates the sovereign power of God to protect the lives of His servants.

At last we rounded the mountain, we could see the lights of Otono–way off in the distance it was true, but nevertheless a homey welcoming sight. By this time we were descending to the plain and though we were in tall grass, Dr. Barlow said, “At least we are going in the right direction so we’ll just keep going till we get there or until the gas gives out.” ¬†All of a sudden, the car sputtered and died. “That’s it, no more gas. We’ll sit here till morning and then someone can walk to Otono and bring gas back,” Dr Barlow remarked.

Eight of us crowded into two seats for the night didn’t make for comfortable sleeping you may be sure. The children napped off and on from sheer weariness and we too nodded from time to time.

When dawn came, Dr. Barlow stepped out of the car and walked ahead in the grass a few feet. Then he called the rest of us to come and have a look. Right there, below us was a deep drop-off, completely hidden in the grass. He got back into the car and turned the engine and the car started up immediately. After that we complained no more about the bad night we had had. We knew that God had literally stopped the car to prevent us from having a terrible accident.