Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:7-8
Aggie Hurst knew she had Swedish parents who had given her to an American couple who raised her. When she went to her mailbox one day and found a Swedish magazine, she couldn’t read the words; but one picture, however, caused her hands to perspire and her heart to race. It was a photo of a grave marked by a white cross and on the cross were words she did recognize–Svea Flood, the name of her mother.
Aggie jumped in her car and drove to the office of a friend who could read Swedish and asked, “What does this mean?” The story was about a missionary who had come to N’dolera, then part of the Belgian Congo in Africa. It was the story of an African boy who had grown up and built a school, leading the entire village to the Lord. It said more than 600 villages had been converted.
And how was Aggie connected to all of this? In his book Fresh Power Jim Cymbala tells the story, one of the most touching, profound dramas imaginable. It began in 1921 when a Swedish couple, David and Svea Flood, went to Africa, where they teamed up with another Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, to reach a village for the Lord. The pagan village chief, however, didn’t cooperate. So the two couples were forced to build their tiny mud houses several kilometers away from the village. The only contact which the chief allowed was for a boy to visit them twice weekly selling them chickens and eggs. Svea Flood, however, focused her love and attention on this one boy and led him to Christ. One convert! Then tragedy struck.
Following a difficult pregnancy when she brought a baby girl into the world, she died of complications from childbirth. Jim Cymbala explains, “Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, ‘I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.'” (Jim Cymbala, Fresh Power, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, p.116).
For David, it was the end of the God-trip. He turned his back on God, eventually remarried and had more children, but had one rule in the house: “God is never to be spoken of.” But God wasn’t finished with him.
Here’s the unbelievable chain of events. When the Ericksons both died of malaria, an American couple took the child, gave her an American name and brought her to the U.S. Aggie was that child.
After she read the article, she had a compulsion to go to Sweden and find her father. Walking into a filthy apartment, strewn with liquor bottles, Aggie approached a broken man lying in a dirty bed. “Papa?” she said. And he turned to her, crying, “I never meant to give you away!” Then the tears stopped and the old man turned towards the wall. Slowly Aggie recounted the story told by the magazine, that his wife, her mother, didn’t die in vain, that the little boy who sold them chickens and eggs, grew up and became a powerful force for God, and that over 600 people in the village were now Christians.
The story doesn’t end there. Today the man who was that same little boy is superintendent of the national church with well over 110,000 baptized believers.
When you grow weary in the battle and think that what you do doesn’t count, that you are a failure, remember the true story of David Flood and his wife, Svea. God promised, “My word …shall not return to Me void” (Isaiah 53:11, NKJV). The seed that was planted in the heart of one little boy resulted in a great harvest–one that David Flood couldn’t see but one which God nurtured and brought to completion.
Resource reading: Matthew 13:1-23
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original title of this article was THE REMARKABLE STORY OF SVEA FLOOD