Edward stood at the edge of the train platform and peered down the railroad track.
The winter wind whipped across his face. He pulled his coat closer around his body and shivered.
“The train will get here,” Sadu stated through chattering teeth. The Indian boy waved his hand in the direction of the phantom train.
“I don’t see it,” Edward replied.
Edward had met Sadu at the train station that afternoon. Edward had been spending his school vacation with his aunt and uncle, medical missionaries who worked in rural villages at the base of the Himalayan mountains in India. His uncle had given him a ride to the train station so that Edward could board the train that would carry him back to his parents’ mission station in Katra. As they were leaving for the train station, a messenger had arrived, telling Edward’s uncle that he was needed to help deliver a baby.
Edward‘s uncle had taken him most of the way but had stopped short of the train station.
“I’m sorry, Edward—I can’t go any farther. I have to get back to the village and deliver that baby,” Edward’s uncle had explained. ”The train stop is just down the road. Here is a little money for an emergency. I’m sorry I don’t have more to give you.” His uncle had pushed some coins and paper bills into Edward’s hands.
Edward had nodded, dragged his duffel bag out of the back of the car, and waved goodbye. His uncle’s car had sped away, headed toward a young mother in need of help.
Edward had arrived at the train station at about 3:00 in the afternoon. There was a boy about his age wandering around the train station. He was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, barefoot despite the coldness of the winter. Edward had seen many boys and girls like him, barely dressed, and certainly not clothed for the winter in this part of India.
Edward had glanced at the clock in the train station. He was supposed to catch the express train to Jammu and then go from Jammu to Katra. The mission station where he lived and went to school was in the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir, northern India. And now the boy had struck up a conversation, seemingly eager for Edward’s company.
The small Indian boy glanced at Edward. His eyes were bright.
“The train will come soon,” the boy told Edward once again.
“What’s your name?” Edward asked.
The boy seemed surprised that anyone would want to know his name. “Sadu is my name. I come with you, yes?” Sadu asked hopefully.
Edward chuckled. “Wouldn’t your family miss you?”
The boy shuffled his feet and looked at the ground. “I have no family,” Sadu replied without emotion.
So he’s an orphan, Edward thought sadly.
The boy followed Edward inside the train station and up to a window.
“You have missed the train,” the clerk informed Edward. “It left an hour ago. There will not be another train until tomorrow.“
Edward sat down on a bench with a thump. Now what should he do? He didn’t have enough money for even the cheapest hotel. He had no place to stay for the night.
“We could pray for the train to return today, yes?” Sadu suggested.
Edward stared at him.
“We could pray to Jesus, yes?” the boy persisted.
“You know Jesus?” Edward asked incredulously.
Sadu nodded vigorously. “Long ago a woman came and told my family about Jesus. But then my family got sick and died,” he told Edward. Sadu added with conviction, “Jesus takes care of me every day.”
Edward felt that God was telling him not to abandon Sadu.
“We pray now, yes?” Sadu repeated.
Edward closed his eyes. They could pray that the train would return. Still, it was highly unlikely, as it had been gone for at least an hour.
The two boys prayed and asked their heavenly Father to send the train back for them.
“Jesus has always taken care of me,” Sadu repeated simply.
“It will never happen,” said the man in the ticket window when Edward asked him if the train would return. “I’ve worked here for 20 years, and even if a train has a mechanical problem, it will pull into the next train station.” He looked at Edward and Sadu with pity.
“You can sleep in here,” the man said.
Sadu’s teeth were chattering loudly from the cold. He hugged his body with his arms and tried to curl into a ball as he sat on the bench.
Please, Lord, Edward silently prayed, bring the train back to the station!
Then Edward heard it. The tracks rattled, and there was the faint shrill of an approaching train.
Edward strained his eyes as the train approached, trying to read the destination letters written on its side.
The train to Katra had come back! It pulled to a complete stop in front of Edward and Sadu. Astonished, Edward looked at Sadu.
Sadu just shrugged. “We prayed for it to return,” he told Edward. With a pleading look, he continued, “I can come too, yes?”
Edward felt that he couldn’t leave Sadu alone at the train stop. They had shared a prayer to God together. His parents would know what to do about Sadu.
Edward nodded yes to Sadu. The two grateful boys boarded the train. “We had trouble on the line, so we returned to your station,” the conductor told Edward. “Unfortunately, I had to give your berth away. I didn‘t think you were coming.”
The conductor nodded toward Sadu. “He needs a ticket,” the man told Edward.
Edward thrust his hand into his pocket and felt the money that his uncle had left with him that day. “Is this enough money for a ticket for him?” Edward asked.
The two boys waited as the man counted out the money.
“Just enough,” the man said. He patiently listened to Edward recount his tale of prayer for the train to return to the station. The man gasped.
“This is an amazing story of faith,” the conductor said. He leaned closer and said, “My wife is a believer in Jesus also. She tells me that she is praying for me to follow Jesus also, but I am unsure. I am Hindu, but your story makes me wonder about your God. Perhaps this is one of His miracles for you.”
The train conductor tapped the side of his face with his fingers. “Wait here a moment,” he told the two boys as he strode toward the sleeping cars.
When the man returned, he wore a broad smile. He beckoned to Edward and Sadu excitedly.
“In honor of your Jesus I have found you two empty berths. The passengers never showed up. I think your God saved you a place to sleep,” the conductor said with a smile.
“I told you the train would come,” Sadu whispered in the dark before he fell asleep.
Edward listened to Sadu’s breathing as he slept. He thought about how thankful he was to have met Sadu, a boy with no earthly family but a heavenly Father.
Edward fell asleep quickly, but not before acknowledging a God who had taken such good care of two boys stranded in a train station with only an orphan’s faith to hold on to.
Written by Patti Emanuele
Illustrated by Gil Robles