Tuesday, January 4, 2011
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
(Parable of the Lost Sheep)
Our Good Shepherd, Our Savior, Our Father, will go out of his way to rescue one who is “away from the tender Shepherd’s care”. I have seen this by having encountered the life of a very small baby. A baby who used to have no name besides Junior, and who has now been found, rescued, and renamed Moses Meshac Salvation.
We recently did an outreach to Katanga slums in the heart of one of the poorest areas in Kampala in hopes of bringing joy and Christmas to the poor. We discovered this family of 23 children living all together in a small room with a grandmother and her elderly brother taking care of them (For details on the outreach see my last post!). We asked to pray for the sick and we were given a tiny baby whose body appeared less developed than his face and smile with four tiny teeth. His scalp was pealing and his skin was sagging at the top of his arms and legs and his belly was bloated. We were told he had a hernia and never got medication for it. We prayed for that but looking at his tiny frame, I thought maybe he was an AIDS baby because he looked a lot like some of the babies I had seen in an AIDS house in Kenya. I whispered to my friend, “this baby needs a doctor”. We asked if we could take the baby overnight, bathe him, give him the baby clothes I had stashed in a suitcase, and take him to the Dr., but they refused. We asked if we could come back on Monday and go with the oldest daughter to a doctor and we would bring him back that very day. They agreed. We tried finding out more information about him. How did he get there? Did he have another name? His story…his mother had brought him to stay with this elderly woman. She said she needed him to stay ther for about 1 month while she was working. During this time she would come to visit him, but one day she just didn’t show up and never came back. Noone knew her name or where she stayed. That just always called her Mommy Junior. No one had any idea about who or where the father was either. Alone. Abandoned. Forgotten. Sick. A perfect case for Jesus.
I was happy to be sharing this experience with my friend Katie, who left her American life and family to spend Christmas with us in Africa. She had collected tons of clothes and a few extravagant gifts (like a new iphone 3GS to help me with communications!) to give to us. She had also had her entire basketball team adopt one of each of our kids for Christmas. It was a delight. Reflecting back on this, I’m not sure if Katie hadn’t come if we would have ever really made it to Katanga slums….more on that later. Here's Katie when we first found Junior!
That Monday, we rented a car for about $40, bought a bag of rice for about $45 which would last this family about 3 weeks, and met the Jaja and children again with a handful of baby clothes and newborn diapers. I was delighted to see them all again. I think they were honestly surprised that we came back. We took the baby and the oldest girl living in the house, around age 17 and went to the clinic. I desperately wanted to see the British Doctor, shout out to Dr Stockley!, that I have grown to know and trust. He can look at you and diagnose you. But…he was full that day. We tested Junior for AIDS, hemoglobin, malaria, and Hepatitis which all came back negative! Relief. Here's Junior on the doctor's bed...He was not very happy. (We paid about $40 for the tests and appointment.) But the doctor told us he was malnourished. When I asked what to give him, he told me formula. Where can I buy it? I don’t know was his answer. Maybe take him and give him to a ministry here. But We couldn’t give him away. The Jaja would not allow. I was feeling anxious by this point. I don’t like being told there’s not really a solution that I know of. So…I went downstairs and waited for Dr Stockley to finish typing on his computer. I knew he would walk right past where I was stalking, I mean standing, and then I could grab him. Sure enough. He told me to take him to Annie and the baby house across the street. The baby house ran a series of tests and measurements and came back with the diagnosis: SEVERELY MALNOURISHED. Picture of Junior getting measured: Annie explained over the phone to me that if the baby stayed where he is, he will die 100%. Even if we start him on refeeding and treatment, there is a chance that he will still die. The process of refeeding triggers their immune system to reactivate and often times they get very sick and often times…die. She went through the process of refeeding and we decided together that the wise thing was for the baby to stay at the baby house for a couple of weeks until he makes it past the worst part of the refeeding. Then he could come and stay with us until he gets fat and healthy. Then we could make a decision about where he should go from there. I agreed!
A few days later I visited (let me now call him, Moses Meshac) again! I found him sleeping and as the caretaker straightened out his blanket, he woke up and cried a little bit. I was happy! I picked him up and gave him his bottle. He has to eat every 2 hours. Only 50ml of formula. Then I just held him and when I tried to put him down he cried and cried. So I kept holding him and then we read a book together. A touch and feel animal book. While I was holding him, he reached up and grabbed my nose for about 30 seconds. Just pinching it and holding onto it. So adorable.
I know this baby is going to live. The Good Shepherd really went out of His way for this one. Let me break it down though. He put it on Katie’s heart to come to Africa for Christmas. Because she was here, we scheduled an outreach. Originally we were to go to the children’s hospital here and visit those who are sick, pray for their healing, and give them all a beanie baby as a gift. I’ve done this before and the joy they receive from that gift was PRICELESS…BUT our beanie babies got delayed. They were coming from the states with a woman named Jayne. Jayne’s flight was delayed 24 hours. Then her bags were missing for several days…the bags full of the beanies for the children’s hospital. So we made a new plan, though it was probably God’s original. We decided to take Christmas to the slums. We had about 20 or so beanies, some small toy cars and gifts, and we decided to stop and get Bibles to take too. God’s Spirit led us DIRECTLY to this home of 23 kids and Jaja. It was like…a Christmas gift to me for God to give us these “treasures hidden in darkness”. I was in awe as we stepped into the dark room while it was raining to discover all these children with their little legs hanging over their bunk beds. Amazing. We prayed, worshipped, and found a baby in need of being rescued, a little lost sheep, little boy who God just loved and led us in His mercy and compassion to. If Katie hadn’t been obedient to God’s call to come (which I believe usually comes in the form of simple DESIRE to go), then we probably never would have found him. God uses people to rescue. God uses people to heal. God uses His BODY to be His hands and His feet and to raise the dead.
MOSES MESHAC SALVATION…This baby will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord. What a beautiful testimony of God’s tender kindness and compassion as a Father and Shepherd. Just a reminder to me…if I am ever lost or in need, God has the power to deliver, to heal, to send a minister to me…or to you. Do you now know that you are in His plan? Do you not know that you are in His hands? He holds you as His son or His daughter. May we never forget the lives that can be changed through our simple desire and acts to give HIS LOVE AWAY. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Moses Meshac. We love you and your Daddy does too.
EDIT: I left out that we went back to the JAJA before leaving Moses Meshac at the baby house! We had to get legal permission from a local govt authority to take him and leave him there and the JAJA agreed to everything knowing the severity of the situation meant life or death. LIFE!