The Dew Breakers

“… and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
Dow Merritt could always tell a story. As a little boy I can remember sitting at his feet and listening, entranced, as he told stories of the old days in Africa. He was a man of gentle humor, great wisdom, and considerable courage.
In his autobiography, “The Dew Breakers” (why don’t they make books like that a requirement for Christian colleges?), he describes a tribal custom where little children venture out in the early morning across the fields, and how their little bodies wipe the dew from the grass so that those who follow can do so in comfort. In humility, Merritt allows that as an early missionary he was nothing more than a “Dew Breaker.”
He was much, much more. His family lived in a mud and thatch hut. He lost a friend while hunting hartebeest (a dark-skinned antelope). His friend stumbled, and the spear pierced the young man’s hip and kidneys.
The Merritts braved all manner of tropical illnesses — malaria and tick fever, bilharzia and tsetse fly — but his beloved Alice died of breast cancer, an ailment about as tropical as a snow blizzard.
“She was a lovely, faithful wife,” Merritt recalls simply, “who loved her family and her Lord very, very much.”
I can’t possibly imagine what it must have felt like to be on the African veldt with two children, utterly alone. Years later, Merritt met and married Helen Pearl, with whom he found happiness.
The next time you speak to an elderly member in your congregation, ask yourself if he was a dew breaker. When you visit with your aged parents, consider for a moment the accomplishments that eased your Christian life. We owe an incalculable debt to those who went before us. Ironically, African tradition dictates that the children precede their elders in the dewy grass; in our case, however, it was we, the children, who followed the elderly.
Did you notice that the grass was dry this morning?

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