The Babies Someone Wanted

We forget many conversations almost immediately while others impact us so deeply that the words are etched on our minds forever.  In March, a friend, sitting on my kitchen bench, started an unforgettable conversation by saying, in a quiet, anguished voice, “I killed my baby.”  In response to my questions, she told me as much of the story as I could understand.  It wasn’t her choice.  My friend’s father-in-law didn’t want the baby for some reason, and said that she had to follow the cultural procedure of burying the baby alive and leaving it.  She told me how it’s cries grew weaker until it’s little life was over, and how she cried because she wanted and loved her baby.

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A few days ago (12-18 – it was about three weeks ago now), the little elderly grandma in our village told me a similar story from her youth.  In her case it was her own husband that didn’t want the baby and said it had to be buried.

On Monday, as part of ACL practicing, I decided to spend one of the hottest hours of the afternoon lying on the cool tile floor of the bedroom while listening to audio recordings.  That conversation with the grandmother was first on my review list.

So much for my scheduled hour of listening practice.  Three minutes and 18 seconds into the audio recording, I was bawling so hard I had to hit the pause button, and never did finish practice time that day.

These dear ladies still carry the weight of strong negative emotions decades after their babies were buried.  The emotion they both named was sadness, but their comments and facial expressions lead one to suspect the possibility that pain, trauma, bitterness, helplessness, guilt and anger also reside in their hearts. 

These women each lost a baby.

Babies they nurtured in their wombs for nine months, babies they wanted and loved, babies they were not allowed to keep.

I cried so long and hard today.  I cried for the countless babies in this culture who were left to die over the years, before the Gospel came.  I cried for the mamas who loved and wanted their babies, and still have not been comforted.  I cried for the dads and grandpas whose hearts were hardened toward these precious little lives.  I cried for the people groups that are still living in total fear and bondage, as my friends were just 42 years ago.  I cried for the sorrows and fears and questions that my village friends still face.  I cried about my own fears and insecurities.

If these things grieved my heart so deeply, why would I write about them and risk bringing sorrow to you?  Even as I write this, I’m not certain I will post it.  This is the third time I have written about similar cultural topics and my reactions, but the first time I have had the courage (or audacity) to post.  Perhaps the time has finally come to share this part of my heart and ACL adventure.  You want to know why?

First of all, because it’s hard to cry alone. 

I need you, my family and friends, to come alongside me in prayer.

Will you please pray that Jesus will fill me with courage and hope?  I’m not very strong or brave, friends.  Monday proved it.

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As a result of the power of the Gospel and the changes that Jesus has already brought to this culture, the practice of burying “unwanted” babies ended years ago.  Praise the Lord!  By His grace, some of the enemy’s lies have been vanquished by Truth, and many dark places have been illuminated.

But it would be naïve to think that all is now well in this village and culture.  Yes, there is evidence of true joy, hunger for God, and Christian fellowship.  Yet darkness and lies and bondage and pain still exist among this precious people.  And how could it be otherwise?  They don’t have the Word of God in their language yet!

I want to make it very clear that I am not judging this culture or saying that it is worse than North American culture.  Our culture also has dark and tragic aspects that grieve my heart and would shock people from other countries.  Just as no individual human being is perfect, no people group is perfect.

Every people group has wonderful characteristics, and I prefer to share the parts of this culture that I love and appreciate and participate in.  But it would be dishonest to pretend that life here is completely lighthearted, one cool jungle adventure after another.

And that is the second reason I might actually post this.

Because you are part of the ministry team God is using to reach these people, so you need to know at least some of the hard, heartbreaking details. 

How will you be able to pray knowledgeably for us if I never tell you that this culture, like all others, is contaminated by sin and marked by darkness? 

How will you support us in the battle if you only know about the triumphs and not the defeats? 

How will you hold the ropes for me personally, your sister and daughter and friend, if you don’t know what makes me cry, or sometimes want to run away? 

Can I be very real with you, friends? Even though the very reason for being here is to shine Jesus’ light into this dark place, my own fears and insecurities show that darkness is still trying to claim a stronghold in my heart. 

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After two years of great fun, hard work, and dependence on Jesus, I can speak well enough to discuss serious topics and investigate slightly more profound aspects of this culture.  Thank you, Jesus!  But suddenly, since September, new questions have begun to trickle into my heart and mind.  On Monday that trickle turned into an overwhelming and unexpected flood…

What if I discover unspeakable hidden customs, not from this culture’s past, but from their present reality?

What if my trusted friends start telling me unbelievable things that shock and grieve me?

What if I can’t handle it? 

What if I’m not strong enough?

What if I don’t know what to say? 

What if I don’t have what it takes?

And, you can guess what happened next.  I started bawling again, this time out of fear instead of sadness, until the Holy Spirit quieted my heart with the realization that while my questions are real and valid, there is another question that trumps every single one.

“What if God’s grace is enough?”  And I worship God through the tears.

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That question is not a true “what if”, my friends.  The blazing truth revealed by that question answers all of my fearful questions.  Of course I’m not enough for these things.  And I don’t have to be.  Jesus didn’t bring me here because I am qualified or tough or have what it takes to do this job.  He brought me here because I am a weak, foolish, fearful vessel, and that is the kind He loves to use to demonstrate His power and glory and sufficiency.

God’s grace is enough. 

God’s grace is enough for me and for all my fears.  His grace is enough for the elderly little grandma and for all her grief.  God’s grace is enough for you, and whatever you fear or grieve today.  God’s grace is enough for this whole people group, for my home culture and your culture, and for all people everywhere.  And isn’t that the good news we celebrate this time of year?

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.   And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:10-14  (emphasis mine)

Will you please pray for me with regards to all of this? 

Will you please pray for these sweet elderly ladies whose hearts need God’s healing and peace? 

Will you pray for this people group as a whole, and for each individual, that Jesus’ light will shine brightly into the darkest hidden places, bringing freedom and life and joy? 

All of us, wherever we live and work, are in a battle.  Light versus darkness. Truth versus lies.  Good versus evil.  Faith versus fear.

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What kind of darkness do you encounter in your community?  I would challenge you not to turn away from the lies, the tears, and the needs around you.

We who walk in the light do not need to fear the darkness.  Ask Jesus to show you the dark places where He wants you to shine.

And please feel free to comment or e-mail me with how I can be praying for you about these things.

19 thoughts on “The Babies Someone Wanted

  1. Gladys Der

    Wow Paulette, that is surely heartbreaking. Pain that deep lasts for years, even a lifetime. I don’t feel qualified but I will join you in prayer. I am at a loss for words.

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    1. No need to say anything more than that, Gladys. Just knowing you are praying is enough. Thank you.

      And you are right, on our own none of us are qualified to do anything about the needs and darkness in this world. But Jesus is! And He lives in and shines through you.

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  2. Socorro

    Paulette, thank you for sharing about these horrible practices that use to take place in your village. The sad thing is that killing babies still takes place in North America! The so called civilized place! 😦 My heart breaks for the women that had to go through those painful experiences of killing their babies. I know that healing must take place even though these events happen many years ago! We live in a dark world and we need to constantly be reminded that this is not our home but this world belongs to Satan. Praise be to God that He sent His Son Jesus who is the Light to the world to show us the path back to Himself! I will definitely pray that the Lord will continue to shine His glorious light and love through your life and those that are there ministering with you!

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    1. Thank you for your prayers and for the reminders of such powerful, encouraging truths! And you’re right about how sad it is that babies are still killed in North American…definitely the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the negative and sinful aspects of my home culture. Praise Jesus for the precious blood He shed for the forgiveness of all peoples. May the Lord continue to bless you as you serve Him and shine His light where He has called you. The faces and stories are much different, but you face darkness and intense battles in your ministry too. Stay strong in the Lord!

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  3. Marilyn J Shivers

    Dear Paulette, I couldn’t help but think that the Lord has known these things and took them to the cross on their behalf. These ladies sharing this with you now, is also apart of his perfect plan. He has placed in you His love…and through that, they have come to feel comfortable with you enough to share such hurts and shame. It is through confession our forgiveness comes. Hearing their story and you not rejecting them is like Jesus. We all must come to a place where we understand that Jesus loves us so much we can bring our dirtiest, darkest, ugliest sins to Him and learn that He is not only able to forgive us but He’s anxious to take it all away. Not to leave an empty hole but to fill that emptiness with His love. His peace, that forgiveness heals. I hope this makes sense. I hear your tears, as I cry along with you. Rejoice now, for you have been given the message of forgiveness and hope to share. Love you so much. Praying for you and these ladies as I know it’s hard on all of you to share, hear, and then come to the point of rejoicing.

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    1. Dear Marilyn, thank you for taking the time to share all of that. Not only did your words make sense themselves, they helped answer some of my heart’s deep questions and “make sense” of the situation a little bit better. Thank you for praying and for crying with me. And, oh, please pray that Jesus will give me the rest of this language, and especially words to express the message of His forgiveness, hope and power over all the darkness in the world and in our hearts. There are so many things I long to say to these ladies, but I don’t yet know the words. It does feel like the day is very close when I can, and when Jesus will give me the honor of being His mouthpiece to these dear people who need to be set free.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Tammie Pardy

    Paulette, thank you for having the courage to share this. Thank you that we can know what and how to pray for you. You such an encouragement to so many, including myself. Keep those words close to your heart, the ones you wrote about God being enough. Love you and your heart for a people whom He has placed on your heart!

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  5. Joining you in prayer. As we continue to walk along side refugees in the city. We too can be overwhelmed by the darkness steeped in cultural beliefs. Loads of love,

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  6. Keith

    Paulette, you have just expressed reality for all of us, we are not enough. Without God in and through our lives we have and are nothing. Jesus said inpsalm 16, “apart from you, I have no good things” But with Jesus, we are more than a conqueror. We are empty but filled, we are incomplete but yet completed. Jesus only. We love you and miss you.

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  7. Natasha Metzler

    Oh, friend. I needed this reminder today. In raising our children, who came from vastly different cultures than us, I have all these same feelings at times. And His grace really is enough.

    Praying with you. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, Tasha. Thank you so much for your comment and your prayers. May you be encouraged today (and tomorrow and the next day and forever) to keep letting Jesus shine His light through you into the darkest, most hidden places of your precious children’s hearts. Praying with you, friend, as you fight the daily battle for Truth and Light and Faith and Beauty, in His strength alone. Thank you for your shining example of courage and faithfulness and authenticity.

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  8. Colette Cross

    Although it was so very difficult to hear those tragic stories and also so difficult to share we need to bring darkness to light and then God’s healing power can touch and restore broken hearts and broken lives. So thank you for sharing the really hard days and difficult circumstances so we can pray with you from the heart to reach His throne of mercy and grace. You are such a blessing to me and to so many! Love you so much!

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    1. Amen, Mom! Praise God for His healing power and restoration. We have seen it in the past, in Scripture and in our own lives, and by faith, we know will see it here too. Thank you for your faithful prayers and encouragement. Love you too!

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  9. Cindy Coulombe

    Praying, Thank You for Sharing. I have to wonder if the women shared with you , not only bcz your language skills are better, but perhaps they see the old ways coming back? I hope not but I do hear that the indigenous peoples are feeling afraid just now. Take care…as I say Praying

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, Cindy. I hope and that there is not a return to the old ways, but it is possible that things are happening that we are not aware of yet. It is reassuring to know that God knows everything that is going on, even in people’s hearts and minds.

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  10. Cheryl

    Oh my dear precious friend. I cried with you. The reality of others customs can be overwhelming. In Hawaii they used to take unwanted newborns out into the ocean and let the waves take them. I can not imagine the horrendous pain of burying your baby alive. They have suffered every single day a pain unlike any other. In Asia armies would go into another country and take babies by the feet and bash them into trees. How our precious Lord dealt with seeing this over thousand of years we may never know. May GOD hold you tight as you minister His love to these people.

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  11. Beth McMahon

    Paulette, thank you for your brutal transparency. That, too, is God’s grace. To share if these women in their culture is one thing but to share your own struggles with such vulnerability is absolutely humbling to read. The Lord is using you to not only reach the culture you are living in but He is using you to help the culture you have come from to see and realize what real grace is. Thank you for being His vessel, being molded and shaped by His loving hands to speak to this gal’s heart about His grace being enough no matter the situation. You are loved, you are prayed for and you are a beautiful example of surrender for His glory. (I realize it is a dailu work in progress. )😉 Thank you for being brave enough or audacious enough to share all of this. Blessings!

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  12. Yes Sister Paulette, it’s a blessing to have you share with us! I think of all the “great women of faith” we admire. I don’t think they were much different than you, just willing vessels that followed the tug on their heart the Spirit did and chose obedience to God & His plans, building their faith as He proved Himself faithful giving what they needed to minister to those He gave to them. Every culture has some form of infanticide, it’s even shown in the Bible with Molech worship being one example. Satan doesn’t want the children God has destined to do His will to be born. Between his work and the depraved hearts of men, many lives have been lost, infant as well as older. I keep anchored in Philippians 4:1-8 much of the time. I know your anchor holds within the pale with Christ being the solid rock on which you stand. Remember, ALL your tears are precious to the Lord, God keeps EVERY ONE of them in a bottle. Precious are the tears of the saints that water the work of God. Shalom, my dear one, Amen

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