Today marked the first time I’ve ever held a one-day-old baby boy. He was wrapped in three blankets, had a full head of hair, and his deep brown eyes kept searching for a mother he would never know.
It was around 3 pm this afternoon that I heard a knock on my door. It’s a sound I had heard 10 times already by that point, so I’m sure I looked annoyed when I opened it. But instead of the usual faces I’ve come to expect, there stood a man I had never seen before. He was asking for Ann, the visitor coordinator here on the field, who happened to live in the house next to mine. I quickly redirected him and shut the door without asking any questions; I had a to-do list staring me down from the next room.
An hour or so later, I actually took my friend Gloria next door so we could make a birthday cake for her celebration at Christ School. I found Ann and started to tell her that a man was looking for her, but she cut me off to tell me that she already knew. She was visibly distressed about something, but Gloria was ready to learn how to bake. I chose to direct my attention to Gloria.
Fast forward another hour, after the cake was baked and put on the cooling rack, I heard the soft cry that can only come from a newborn. I was confused, as was Gloria, so we both turned around to see and finally understand the cause of Ann’s distress.
The baby boy came by way of his brother, who’s easily older than me, with a hand-written letter from a doctor. The mother of these two (and probably many more) had given birth two days before at the health clinic of a village close by. According to the letter, the mother had not survived the C-Section. The father was in deep mourning at home with no current means to care for the baby.
The man said he had searched high and low, but had been unable to find formula for his newborn brother. It was then that he turned to the letter the doctor had written, which was addressed to “World Harvest Mission” with the instruction to come to us for help. Thankfully, we had found a means to provide milk for the baby here. But he needed a surrogate breast-feeder. He needed consistency. He needed a mother.
All of this was relayed to me as I was holding this child. Once again, my heart was overwhelmed by the conditions of this place with no physical means to alleviate the pain of the people around me. Once again, I was struggling to experience this cultural context having come from one so vastly different. But in the craziness of juggling all these thoughts came the quiet whisper of a truth I had forgotten: my God has gone before me in this place, and he’s in Bundibygyo for the long haul. He is the faithful God of this mission, the God of every tribe and nation, and the God of this sweet baby boy in my arms.
I smiled as he reached through the blankets to grab my thumb with his tiny hand, and I immediately began pouring prayer over this tiny miracle. I prayed that in a place so accustomed to the consequences of inadequate medical care, the Lord would be a provider and a refuge. I prayed that this child would not one day be burdened by the truth of his mother’s passing, but that he would grow to take comfort and solace in the presence of Jesus. I prayed that this child’s testimony would forever point to the power of a sovereign God.
I watched as Ann and other team members communicated the importance of these next few weeks to the brother, who would ultimately determine the level of care this baby would receive. We sent him with specific instruction and a promise that we would check on his family soon. I saw hope in the brother’s eyes as he thanked us and took the child. He understood what needed to be done, and I have faith that the many prayers prayed over that baby boy will be heard.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23