Friday night lacked subtlety. Evil overplayed its hand. In the disturbing trauma of the grabbing shadow violating my lap, the helpless confusion, the jumpy gang, Scott running . . . we called on the name of Jesus when there was nothing else to do. We were up against darkness but also unwise in our decisions. So many people have been kind and supportive, my sense is that the whole over-the-top nature of the situation has backfired into victory.
Most of life, the struggle is way more subtle. Insidious loss or eroding frustrations are much harder to name, to share, to rally against.
Pictured above is R, whose husband gave her HIV then disappeared. She came to our hospital 3/4 of the way through her 5th pregnancy. All four previous babies had died, either as stillbirths or within hours of delivery. She is diabetic, malnourished, and depressed. With vacant eyes she let her sister do the talking. Her amniotic fluid was increasing dangerously fast; her baby had slowed in his movements, and even though she was very premature the OB team felt she had to be delivered. We felt the chances of her baby's survival were already low and falling by the day. So to the theatre she went. And out came a plethoric, bloated, but crying baby boy. He's breathing well, a bit jaundiced, and it is taking time for his blood sugar to stabilize. But all in all we are very hopeful that R may at last take home a live child.
This battlefront is every bit as important as thieves in the darkness, but the life-threat is to a nameless infant and much harder to see.
R smiled when I greeted her today. She has recovered something precious, hope. And she welcomes your prayers for her and her child, who still face weeks of intensive care and years of struggle. For the little boy to survive, his mother needs the kind of care that can hold her virus at bay. A more insidious evil means she's a functional widow, and is eking by on first-level anti-retro-virals with a poor response. She is determined to feed her baby formula to lessen his risk of AIDS, but that may mean great sacrifice for her. Yet today she is courageous and full of plans, as she looks at a breathing child of her own who has lasted four days for the first time.
This is only one story in dozens already, as we move through day 5 back in Kijabe. More subtle lines between good and evil, life and death:
This, below, is just plain sweet perfection in a tiny package. Her mother suffers from severe pre-ecclampsia and risked dying unless she was delivered today; and she probably would not have made it much longer in that hostile inadequate environment either. But there she is, pink and relaxed, about thirty minutes old.
And just to keep things interesting, we landed back into a weekend on call and the first Caring Community (families have a small group of dorm kids over monthly) . . . .
. . . and our first-ever Senior Boys' Sunday School.
Between the two we have the opportunity to support, feed, love, encourage, and point to Jesus a bunch of great guys from Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. Like most high school seniors they are concerned about college apps, sports injuries, and time management. But they also ask prayer for elections in their unstable countries, parents who are working in dangerous places, wilderness flights and Bible translations.
And lastly, a shout-out to friendship and teamwork. Because the subtle borders of the Kingdom struggle demand reinforcements. One of the greatest surprises of this return was the quick embrace of friendship. We have a Serge team here now where we came almost 4 years ago alone. We have meals and walks and prayer and concern. Karen, Bethany, and Ann to the rescue. And this month, we have Carol. Carol L grew up in the same church I did (though decades later). Her parents are our friends and supporters. Once upon a time she came to Bundi as an intern and got talked into staying half the year. Now she's in her third year of a Med-Peds residency, and brought her calm laugh, good sense, quiet can-do, smart competence right into our lives again. She's staying with us and working with me, which is why I can be typing this on a Sunday evening on-call.
I hope that as many readers who were caught up in the drama of highway robbery will also see the more subtle moments of goodness, sacrifice, and hope in the stories of the weekend. Moms who get years to love, boys who want to use their strength for service, babies who can breathe and grow. Evil losing its grip on iPhones and on lives.