Monday, 5 December 2011
Meet Jane. She is 18 years old. (Isn’t she beautiful?)
“When I realized I was pregnant, I felt my world had come to an end,” Jane told me. “All the people around me didn’t support me, and they made sure to put me down.”
With no support from her family, Jane tried to abort her baby — a common method of family planning in Uganda. I’m not sure how she did it. Maybe she took lots of contraceptives; maybe she tried taking some herbs. She might have tried drinking detergent.
Mercifully, it didn’t work. She found out about a crisis pregnancy center in Kampala called Mirembe House, which is run by Youth for Christ.
Mirembe means peace.
At Mirembe House, there is a nurse to teach the women, ages 13 to 19, about prenatal care, labor and delivery, and caring for their babies. There are Christian counselors to help them heal from their heart-scars, like rejection from their families, the shame of pregnancy outside a marriage, and the devastation of rape. There are vocational instructors to teach them tailoring skills, cookery and hair styling. They share the gospel with them, and make sure they have somewhere to go after their baby is born.
For Jane, they offered hope to two lives.
“When I came here, I started loving my baby before she was born,” Jane says. “The aunties here loved me and encouraged me, even though they were not my mother.”
Meet Jane’s baby, whom she named “Blessed Natasha.” Natasha is two days old.
“They gave me hope when I felt that hope was going out of my life,” Jane says. “I found God through my baby.”
I wanted to tell her that I did, too. I found God through my babies, and I saw God in hers.
I showed her a picture of Benjamin but couldn’t express what he and my other children mean to our family. But that’s probably because she already said it: They point us to God.
* * *
Africa is full of stories.
I came here to find them, but they found me. And I am undone.
I have so many stories, friends. I met women today who had been left, abused, abandoned. I listened as a woman told us about her baby with special needs, and how her friends told her to throw her in a pit latrine because she was worthless. I cried as she told us how Comforter Center, another crisis pregnancy ministry, helped her to see her child as valuable and part of God’s plan for her life, and how she learned to love her baby. I interviewed the directors and was inspired by their passion and sacrifice. I listened in roomfuls of women, watching us teaching each other, asking questions and sharing birth stories, encouraging and equipping each other for our tasks ahead.
After a day like this, I thought I’d feel heavy and overwhelmed. But I don’t. I feel hopeful.
These are redemption stories, friends.
Sometimes the hand of God is the most obvious in the most broken situations. How else could Jane have gone from where she was to where she is today? How else could he have brought me here to Africa again, where I see myself in these women’s eyes, where I see how we need each other, how we crave each other’s stories?
In their pain, I find my brokenness. In their healing, I find hope.
In their eyes, I see myself.