We can sometimes question God’s character when our circumstances are hard. Jemimah Wright remembers a time when God showed her his love and power in fulfilling her desire… to go swimming.


Source: Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

In 2014 I went to Hong Kong to work with St Stephen’s Society, the mission started by Jackie Pullinger nearly sixty years ago. I was working in the Girl’s House where Chinese and Nepalese women and teenagers who were coming off drugs – heroin and ketamine mainly – would stay.

It was a bit like a home-prison, in that we were locked in, so the girls could not run away to find drugs if they felt the craving. As a helper I slept in a dorm with eight of the teenagers, and my life and routine was very similar to theirs, accept I got one day off a week. Whilst I was in the house I was not free to come and go.

One morning I woke up and went to the helper’s bathroom to clean my teeth before breakfast. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining and the sky blue. This is quite unusual in Hong Kong as often it is overcast and humid.

That morning as I brushed my teeth looking out of the window at the blue sky, I just thought, ‘I wish I could go and swim today!’

The Girl’s House was close to the beach, but we had never been, as we stayed in the house all day, sometimes playing badminton in the concrete back yard in the afternoons. That morning as I brushed my teeth looking out of the window at the blue sky, I just thought, ‘I wish I could go and swim today!’

As I thought it, another voice came to my head, ‘I give you desires so I can fulfil them – put your swimsuit on!’ I thought, ‘No no, I understand we can’t swim, it’s impossible today.’ I knew the morning routine would be Bible study, cleaning and food prep. But the voice came again, ‘I give you desires so I can fulfil them, put your swimsuit on.’ Again, I did not obey, because in my understanding, it was impossible, and I didn’t want the discomfort of walking around with my swimming costume under my clothes all morning!

‘I give you desires so I can fulfil them – put your swimsuit on!’

However, when I went downstairs I was greeted by Hannah, the Chinese leader of the house. She said, ‘Jemimah, this morning you will take some of the older girls to the beach to do Bible study with another helper.’ I was amazed! This had never been done before in my time, and I remember thinking, how ironic, I will be at the beach, but obviously I can’t swim, as I have to keep watch over the girls.

Six of us excitedly walked the ten minutes to the beach, and sat in the shade of the trees reading the Bible. After about an hour, when it was time to go, one of the girls walked down to the shore to paddle in the water. I joined her, we both pulled our trousers up and had fun standing in the water. I realised the waves were getting bigger, and both of our legs were wet.

Another wave came and splashed me up to my waist. I started wading deeper in, and even though I was fully clothed, I realised I was deep enough to swim. I looked across to the other helper, and she seemed happy, laughing with the girls. So as the next wave came, I started swimming! I couldn’t believe it was actually happening!

It was the most wonderful feeling, and I felt God’s fatherly love beaming down on me. ‘See, I give you desires so I can fulfil them.

I was at the Girl’s House for six months, and we never went to the beach again in my time there. God showed me he knows what I love, and can make it happen, even when the circumstances look impossible. This was especially encouraging as I was in my thirties, and had a desire for marriage but had been single forever. I would have to wait a little longer for the desire to be fulfilled.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.