19 April, 2024

Saved by the Blood

by | 21 March, 2014 | 0 comments

4communion5_JNBy Kay Moll

Paul Brand tells the story of something that happened in 1802*. A smallpox epidemic had broken out in a Spanish settlement in Bogota, Colombia. The colonists sent a desperate cry for help to King Carlos IV in Spain. They poured out their fear that the whole colony would be wiped out by the disease and they asked for help.

King Carlos had had his own three children vaccinated against the disease””even though the treatment was new and still controversial. But no way for transporting the vaccine had been developed. The king and his advisers finally came up with a daring plan.

They took 22 boys from a local poorhouse and put them on a ship along with five cows (to serve as backup hosts for the vaccine). Five of the boys were vaccinated as the voyage began, and then every 10 days two more boys were vaccinated with the live virus obtained by drawing it from the scars of those vaccinated just before them.

When the ship made a stop in Venezuela, the last boy was keeping the vaccine alive. The doctor with the expedition vaccinated 28 more boys in Venezuela (plus about 2,000 of the local population) and continued with the new boys on to Bogota. Everyone in the city was vaccinated and the threat of the epidemic ended.

People were also vaccinated in Peru, Argentina, and the Philippines. The lives of hundreds of thousands were saved because of the 22 boys who, having overcome the disease, formed a living chain of help to those who had yet to overcome.

The cries of a desperate world reached up to God””the cries of those who were helpless to save themselves, the cries of those who faced certain death if help did not come. And God knew what was required: the blood of one who had already overcome the disease.

As you meet around his table, pour out your thanks to God for one he sent. Pour out your thanks to God for the blood that was shed, the blood of Jesus Christ, the overcomer.


*Paul Brand and Philip Yancy, In His Image (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997).


Kay Moll is a speaker and writer living in Mason, Ohio.


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