Twelve-year-old Sally lived with her missionary parents at a Baptist mission station in the northern part of Nigeria. Friends told Sally’s family about an interesting feature that they had recently watched on the new national television network. In the program, two American Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in southern Nigeria appeared with their Chihuahua. This was considered a newsworthy event because these little puppies were believed to have been the first of this breed of dog ever to be born in all of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
There were three tiny puppies in the litter. And since Chihuahuas are very small–even when fully grown–these three newly born puppies could easily be held in the joined palms of two cupped hands. How adorable they were!
Upon hearing of this story, Sally had a bright idea. She herself owned a little white female Chihuahua. “Why don’t we arrange for Tina to have puppies with the Chihuahua we saw on TV?” she suggested to her parents. “That way I’d have some puppies to play with!”
Through the help of an American Baptist missionary dentist living at Ibadan, in southern Nigeria (Africa’s largest native city), arrangements were made with the Adventist missionaries to bring Sally’s dog down and have it bred on the campus of the Adventist Seminary of West Africa (now Babcock University).
Another Baptist missionary family, traveling down to the coast at about this same time, agreed to act as go-betweens and take Sally’s dog with them to the Adventist compound, about 500 miles to the south.
About noon the missionary’s wife said, “Why don’t we pull over and have a bite to eat?” They stopped by the side of the jungle road in a very desolate, largely uninhabited area between the old walled city of Kaduna and the great Niger River.
While the missionaries’ car was stopped, Sally’s little white dog slipped unnoticed out through an open back door. Finished with their meal, the travelers resumed their journey and were many miles down the road when the missionary’s wife blurted out, “The dog is gone!” But it was far too late to turn back. Besides, it was most unlikely, had they decided to retrace their steps, that they would have found the little dog still there on the jungle road.
Upon learning this disappointing news, Sally was heartbroken that her beloved Tina was lost somewhere in the African jungle. But she prayed fervently for the return of her pet. And with unshakable faith Sally assured anyone willing to listen that God would surely bring her dog back to her. “Don’t worry!” she would always add cheerfully.
Meanwhile, Roger and Irene Coon, the Adventist missionaries who were expecting the arrival of Sally’s dog for breeding, began to wonder why it had never shown up at their home. What could be the delay? Finally they learned the whole sad story.
But the little white Chihuahua was on an incredible adventure of its own.
A short time after Tina had slipped out of the car, a British couple came driving down the same road. The wife, idly looking out the car window, suddenly gasped in astonishment. “Dear,” she said to her husband, “you just passed a white Chihuahua on my side of the road!”
Her husband laughed at what he thought was a funny joke. “A Chihuahua out here, in this remote, desolate place? That’s a pretty good one. Why, there isn’t a Chihuahua within 200 miles of this place. No one even lives within 50 miles of here. What would a Chihuahua be doing in a deserted area like this, anyway?”
But the woman stubbornly insisted that she had seen a small white Chihuahua by the side of the road. “We must turn back!” she said.
To appease his wife, the man stopped the car, turned around, and drove back in the direction from which they had come, for about a half mile.
Sure enough, there was a little white Chihuahua trotting down the jungle road, unaware of the travelers who were now observing it in disbelief.
The British couple stopped their car and called the dog over to them. Gently picking Tina up, they took the dog with them in their car the rest of the way to their home in Lagos in southern Nigeria.
About this time the Coon family decided to take a one-day excursion to take a break from the seminary where they lived and worked.
“Let’s go to the coast,” Mrs. Coon suggested. “It’s only 50 miles south of here.” They had heard of a lovely resort beach on the sea called Tarkwa Bay, which was reported to be safe from the treacherous undertow that often swept unwary swimmers out to sea.
The Coons and their two preschool children, Suzie and Donnie, traveled down to the coast and parked their car near a grove of coconut trees. They hired someone to transport them by canoe across the beautiful lagoon.
Upon their arrival on the other side of the lagoon, the family struggled up a large sand dune on the island, trying to manage their picnic basket, thermos jug, blanket, swimsuits, and towels. That’s when Mrs. Coon noticed a small white Chihuahua running past them on the crest of the dune.
“Roger!” Mrs. Coon called out. She then told her husband what she’d seen. At the time, there probably weren’t more than a half-dozen Chihuahuas in all of Nigeria. Suddenly Mrs. Coon announced, “I’m going to find out who owns that dog.”
That task didn’t take long. Greeting the owners–or who she thought were the owners–Mrs. Coon called to them, “We have Chihuahuas too. How long have you had yours?”
“Oh,” replied the British woman sitting on the sandy beach, “this dog isn’t ours. You’ll never believe this, but we found her several weeks ago, trotting down an isolated jungle road halfway between the Niger River and the old walled city of Kaduna up in northern Nigeria, in a very desolate, uninhabited area. So we stopped and picked up the dog. She must have belonged to somebody and was obviously lost.”
The woman went on, “When we got home we advertised in the lost-and-found classified section of the Lagos Daily Times. But so far no one has responded to our ad, and we’re just keeping her until we can find out to whom she belongs.”
Mrs. Coon grinned broadly, then said, “Well, I know to whom she belongs. In fact, I believe her name is Tina, as I recall.” Sure enough, at the mention of her name the little dog pricked up her ears and turned to see who was calling her! Mrs. Coon then told the surprised woman the rest of the story. She gave the woman all the information necessary to contact Tina’s owners.
It wasn’t long before little Tina was reunited with Sally. And everyone who heard the story was astonished at how the whole thing had all worked out–except Sally.
“I’m not surprised,” she declared with strong conviction. “I just asked Jesus to bring my Tina back home. And He did. Jesus answered my prayer–what’s so unusual about that?”
Well, how about this: What are the mathematical odds of two persons, who had never even met each other before, bumping into each other in Africa’s largest nation, on a beach that had been visited by one of them only once in the entire 12 years of her service as an Adventist missionary to that West African nation?
Those odds must have been astronomical! But God is bigger than even the biggest odds.
And if God cares this much about a little missionary dog, lost in the heart of tropical Africa, think of the miracles He can perform for the people lost in Africa. And think of what He can do for you.
Illustrated by Patrick Merrell