“The baby was born and is not breathing well,” pronounced Susana after receiving a phone call from Zita the leader of the Muzuane Home Group. We responded to the “call” and went to the home of Issa, our AWYesu fisherman and his very young wife Aschura.
“I just found out how to get to their home by car just this past week and I am so thankful for such a time as this” was Su’s comment upon driving to their home within minutes of the call.
We were ushered into the small mud hut to be shown their new born son wrapped in a cloth lying motionless and silent on the rope-woven bed. There was no life in this little one denoted by his fine blue/black lips and his body cold. But there was no doubt or conversation about what to do next. The response to the leading of the Holy Spirit was to scoop the little one into our arms and commence to pray. To pray for more than two hours for the breath of life to return to his lifeless body. Lord you raised Lazarus from the dead. The widow’s son was brought back to life as the prophet Elijah prayed. We poured out our faith from every cell of our body and our confidence always focusing on Jesus in the midst of intense prayer and tears.
This was not a time of ordinary prayer, but a time to persevere, press in and to go somewhere in Him and in faith we had not been. Where two or more are gathered, He is there. The anointing of unity was there as one of us would pray then the other would press in. Prayers were shouted and prayers were sung. Scriptures were quoted. He was physically breathed upon.
Time passed and the home soon became dark as the day’s light turned to night. A small oil lamp was lit and the prayers continued without any hesitance. Women joined us in the small room and quietly prayed while others of the family who are Muslim sat and watched.
“I feel a pulse?” Su hopefully whispered. “No, it is the pulse from our own hands.” Massaging his feet and little hands, we saw how large this baby truly was. The mother is only 15 years old and this was her first child. Yes, she should have gone to the hospital, but didn’t, so forward we persevered in faith that her son would be brought to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayers went up in forceful waves and others crying out in a whisper. The mother sat in the opposite room, watching in a state of being numb to the magnitude of what was happening as the family sat by her side.
When do you stop praying? When do you know it is time? The Holy Spirit was directing us all the way to the moment when I gently laid my hand upon Su’s arm, we gazed into each other’s eyes and we knew it was time. “We have never buried anyone with a Christian ceremony what do we do?” We are walking with these people someplace in their salvation, they have never gone before and just as a child all they want to do is to please Jesus. Every word that we speak must be from the Word of God because it is Truth, not an idea. “You can wash the little one and wrap him in a cloth. We will be here tomorrow to perform the funeral.”
The family of God responded with His magnificence. Pastor Armando Jo, the Head of the AWYesu Church Planting vision, was here to impart into the AWYesu Ambassadors the vision and the “how to” plant healthy AWYesu churches. The theme was, “we are going where no one has gone before” just as Joshua did when he led the people across the Jordan River. What that means is that, AWYesu will plant churches upon the Word of God, not upon religious traditions. We will plant African churches, not American, Brazilian, Romanian or any other foreign culture. Jesus’ culture is our foundation.
Just at sun up the Ambassadors went to the cemetery to dig the grave. Arriving at the home, the little one had been washed with a brand new bar of soap and wrapped in a cloth. We sat with the women in the home as the men sat outside. In Africa, when a baby dies, it is the women who are in the home and prepare the body and the men remain outside. Yet as prayers inside the home went up, we could hear the men on the grass mats outside agreeing as their comforting and strong voices filled the air. When it was time to walk to the cemetery, the men stepped up to help. Where is the hope in such a dark time? Only in Jesus. It is only because of Him we can have hope and look to the future. The spirit of the little one is with Jesus and one day we will all be joined with Him. Right now is the pain of the physical separation.
Personally this took me somewhere in Him I have not gone before. To a depth of faith and pouring out of belief that at this moment, I feel completely spent for Him with a stronger faith than before. Yes, the baby was not raised from the dead, but who am I to doubt our mighty God who controls the universe. I shall walk and believe in what I do not see with the knowledge that to be directed by the voice of the Holy Spirit and obedient to his leading will always lead to the goodness of God.
As a family, the AWYesu students, Ambassadors and team returned to minister to the family group and to answer their questions. “What do we wear during this time? The Muslims where a cloth wrapped upon their heads that recognizes that a child has died. The Catholics dress in black. What should we do?” Susana simply answered, “No where in the Word of God does it say to dress a certain way when there is a death in the family.” “OK! If the Bible doesn’t say anything about it, then we won’t do what the others do.” Truth brings enlightenment and direction of how to go where you have not gone before.
Deborah Maas joined me to teach the women in the home group on basic health care after a baby is born and what to do to plan for future children. As she spoke, the women listened intently and received her guidance as truth. “Remember, this is not your fault. The enemy will want to fill your mind with lies, but just think about the goodness of God.”
Sunday morning’s church service was a day of celebration of life. The baby died four days ago and the Muzuane Home Group’s mourning was turned to joy as they focused on the hope of living a resurrected life here on earth, with the promise of a continued resurrected life being lived out with Jesus. We rejoice together that with faith we see the goodness of God, His majesty, His greatness and most of all His love. The service was full of testimonies of God’s goodness and how a church family is there to help no matter what the circumstances. “Neighbors who are Muslims asked if we had to pay the people to come and pay for them to pray.” “Our neighbors knew the baby had died, yet no one came to help us. Only the family in the church came. We are so very grateful.”
We declare Muzuane home group as a light unto the world. It is a city (church family) that cannot be hidden. They have not put the light of Jesus under a bowl. Instead they put it on the its stand (the proper place in their hearts) and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Mathew 5:14-15)