Monday, May 17, 2010

I Don’t Want to Kill My Baby

With a shriek, the young woman screamed out “I don’t want to kill my baby.” The young mother kept rocking back and forth moaning in a barely intelligible voice, tears streaming down her face. She knows her small child would soon be brutally torn apart. A shiver went up my spine as I listen to just how this act would be carried out.

Maasai children born with the possibility of a birth defect meant they would be taken by their father or village elder to a place in the jungle and after a brief ceremony left alive to be torn apart and eaten by the wild animals of the jungle. The village leader said, “There is no reason any child with a defect should burden their Maasai family.”

Maasai social structures place children next to last above women and below men and cows, who are first and second respectively. But somehow the small male child was different. He was born in the late 50’s to a Maasai man who had five wives, many children, and more than a 100 cows. During that time British forces occupied several east African countries and as they were moving from Tanzania to Ethiopia the child’s father was spotted by a soldier one day near the roadway. He was immediately enlisted to be a porter for the group of soldiers. He protested stating that he was needed to care for his cows and his wife was soon to bear a child but this meant nothing to the soldiers and soon he found himself carrying a large load of supplies north.

Within a few days of her husband’s disappearance his wife began to deliver the child. Boys are prized greatly in the Maasi culture and this first born meant that he would be extraordinary. But there seemed to be a problem. The village elders looked at him and decided the baby must be put to death now. With her husband’s fate unknown one of the elders would carry out the death sentence.

Then the first of what would be several miracles began to unfold. Due to difficulties in the village tribal rituals would be set aside and the child’s own mother would have to take the child to be given to the wild animals. I swallowed hard as I imagined having to kill my own child!
The child’s mother, already heartbroken, now was inconsolable as she left the village with her baby. Being distraught she lost her way to the location where these types of children are left. While trying to find the location she met a white man who asked her what her business was in such a dangerous location. “Many people get killed here by lions,” the man said. She told the man her story. Moved with compassion the man led her to a village five hours away which had a clinic that could possible help her child.

At first she was scared of the white man thinking he may be a canable so she walked far behind him in case he tried to hurt her. After a long walk she arrived at the clinic. The doctor examamined the child but could not diagnose the problem. The child with the doctor so that they could observe him and hopefully provide some care. However soon the child’s condition went from bad to worse. Then another miracle took place. A local pastor visiting the clinic observed the pitiful state of the child. The only words he could utter were a simple prayer which would change the life of this poor baby, “God, save this child.”

Within days the child began to improve and clinic workers returned the child back to his mother. Astonished she received her child and questioned the workers for answers. All they could say was that a man of God prayed for him, baptized the child dedicating him to God, and the child became well.

Soon after the child’s father returned home from his forced labor and was told about all the events surrounding his child. He decided that all his children from all his wives should be baptized and dedicated to this God. The child began to grow, mature and with all of his brothers and sisters went to school. The child’s name was also changed to Godsave!
Tanzanian schools are unlike the schools in North America in every way. The child’s father decided to send all of his children to school and was able to pay for the schooling by selling his cows. This was another cultural violation of the Maasai. Cows were always more important that children however he felt that the Creator God must have something special for a child who captured His heart.

As Godsave grew he also excelled in virtually everything he did. His passion for God became clear at an early age. He continued his education and today helps lead a nationally focused ministry which trains and equips Tanzanian church women to reach out and care for those with HIV AIDS, Mentors and trains new church planters and pastors as well as establishing educational schools throughout Arusha Tanzania. You can find out more about this International Partner, Imara.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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