“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Friday, April 4, 2014

Nathan's Momma

The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
Chapter Nine - The Baby Whisperer

 Me and Baby Nathan
Mbale, Uganda - February 2014
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

We were in Mbale, Uganda.  Our first opportunity to meet with the church planters from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan.  As I began to sit down, I noticed one of the church planters.  A woman.  And I felt compelled to sit right next to her.  It felt awkward, but I got up from where I was sitting and sat next to her and gave her a smile.  You get to a point when you are in Africa that you better just go ahead and be obedient when you get a nudge from the Holy Spirit.  (Of course, we should follow that nudge anywhere, right?)

The local Ugandan pastor, John Wandera, was encouraging us to say hello to those sitting around us.  I introduced myself and was surprised that she spoke English.  It wasn't unusual for a Ugandan to speak English... it was just that all the women I had interacted with in Ethiopia had not.  It was like a breath of fresh air being able to communicate with her.  With Evelyn.  (Pronounced Eve-lean.)

We sat beside each other and listened as the pastor spoke.  Later I had moved to another area of the sanctuary as the official teaching began.  Christopher had been taking photos and showed me a photo of a baby that was sleeping in the building.  Soon I found out it was Evelyn's baby.  Nathan.  (Pronounced Naa-thaan.)  

Precious Nathan was 3 months old.  Born September 21st of 2013.  Actually born during the time of the last church planter training in Uganda.  Evelyn was still breast-feeding and brought Nathan to the church training.  She had ridden about 15 miles on a boda boda with Nathan.  Boda boda = motorcycle for hire.  She would have sat side saddle with Nathan between her and the driver.  I couldn't even imagine.

And then I wondered... could I hold Nathan?  And then I wondered... is this why I am here in Uganda at this church planter training?  Is this my ministry?  To care for Nathan while his mom was receiving training? 

Yes.  Yes, it was.

 Evelyn, me, Nathan and Jade

So, here I was.  Ministering to one.  Doing for one.  Helping one person.  Loving on her baby.  Praying for him to become a man of God.  Singing to him.  Wondering in song if the fox speaks the same language in Uganda?

And then Sunday afternoon we visited Evelyn's church.  A congregation of 200 sitting under a tarp waiting for us to arrive.  And I see Evelyn leading her church with her husband beside her.  She is the pastor.  He is the teacher.  And I see Evelyn... I see her clearly as a leader.  Leading her flock.  A woman who has been moved to give up any form of a comfortable life to reach the lost in this village.  To share hope.  To share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Dwight giving his testimony at Evelyn's church
with her husband translating for the congregation

And as I cradled Nathan and as Evelyn shepherded... I realized that my little ministry of holding a baby... wasn't just for Evelyn.  It wasn't just for her.  It was for them.  It was for these 200 people.  It was for the ones who weren't here yet.  For those who would be drawn to Jesus Christ because Evelyn cared.  Because she wanted to plant a church.  Because she wanted to attend a training that would give her wisdom and encouragement and leadership skills.  And she needed a little time to concentrate.  She needed her hands free to take notes.  Some time to participate.

And here I am, again.  My Type B personality.  Deciding to hold a baby.  For hours.  Over a couple days.  Something that may have seemed insignificant.  That may have gone unnoticed.  But God showed me what He saw.  What He saw in the importance of what Evelyn was doing.  What He saw in the importance of what I was doing.  How kind of Him to show me.

Nathan's Momma, Nathan and Me

She had no hesitation with me holding him.
Which I did for hours.
Like his second momma.
And it may not make a lot of difference in the whole world.
But it did for her...
and for her husband...
and for her other children...
and for her congregation...
and for her village.

But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! 
For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those 
who are like these children."  Matthew 19:14

For more of my thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia and Uganda visit here.