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Kenya – Emmanuel

The name Emmanuel means “God with us”, it is the name given to nearly every baby boy born on Christmas Day in Kenya. I want to share with you the story of a baby boy named Emmanuel who truly had the protective hands of God wrapped around him for the first few days of his life.

About nine months ago, a 34 year old widow found herself in a desperate situation. Her husband had passed a way a few years back leaving her with five children to care for on her own. As is the norm for Kenyan culture, she lived on the land of her in-laws while she did whatever work she could find to support herself and her children. After a poor choice was made, she found herself pregnant. She could not reveal this news to anyone. Her in-laws, who were heavy consumers of alcohol, would surely kick her out of her home.

As her pregnancy progressed she tried to do the right thing by seeking prenatal care in clinics located hours away from her home; doing everything possible to keep her secret safe. As the time to deliver this baby drew near, she approached the father of the baby and asked him for $50 to go to the hospital to deliver the baby when the time came. At this, he left the area and did not return.

What had been an already anxiety filled pregnancy now became a truly desperate situation. She knew if she told her in-laws they would kick her out of her home with her five children. She suspected that if she delivered the baby at home, they may even try to kill the newborn baby. She even feared going to the hospital to deliver as she did not know and was very fearful about what would happen after the delivery, and she knew she couldn’t pay a hospital bill on her own.

On Christmas Day her contractions started. She knew this baby would be born soon. In her desperation, in a truly hopeless state, she made the decision to walk deep in to the forest to deliver her baby. Her plan was to die in the forest with her baby. You see, in the state she was in, she honestly felt that this was the best option for both herself and her unborn child. She had seen other women die in childbirth and she assumed that delivering alone in the forest would mean death for her too. So she slipped out of her home unnoticed in the evening and walked into the forest, into the dark night. At some point the pain of labor became too much and she laid down on the ground. She tells us that sometime after laying down she passed out. When she awoke her baby was lying on the ground, cold and wet. She picked him up, did what she could to tie off the umbilical cord and held him against her in the cold night.

Morning came. She was still alive and her baby was still alive. She didn’t know what to do. she pondered taking the baby home but feared for his life. She stayed quietly in the forest. As evening approached once more, she decided that she had to go back to her home and check on her other children. She knew she couldn’t take this newborn baby so she carefully placed him in a shallow pit in the ground and packed dirt around him to keep him warm. She walked back to her home, fed her children, then slipped out again and returned to the forest. There she found her baby unharmed just as she had left him. She picked him up and the two of them spent another night in the forest.

The next morning she reached a breaking point. Something had to be done. Not knowing what else to do, she placed the baby on the ground again, covered him with dirt and the one thin blanket she had, and then she left him. She walked to a neighbor’s house to get help. Unfortunately, her actions were misjudged by the neighbor and upon hearing the story the neighbor accused her or trying to kill her baby by abandoning him in the forest and even called the police to report her.

This is how I met mom, brought in by police and angry neighbors with a critically ill baby. Emmanuel arrived hypothermic, septic, dehydrated, and barely alive. He was covered in dirt. Mom didn’t look much better and it was obvious that she was both physically and emotionally exhausted. Praise be to God, baby Emmanuel responded to medication and warmth! Within 48 hours he was looking like a normal baby. There is no doubt that just as his name suggests, God was with him!

Mom had several meetings with our social workers and chaplains until we were all sure that the truth behind this messy story was a profound example of a mother’s love, of a mother doing what she could for her baby in a hopeless situation, with no intention of harm. I wish that I could say that mom had a revival of faith or a new found hope in Christ, but I am not sure that is the truth. I can say that through our interactions we were able to find a solution that protected the lives of this mama, her newborn baby, and her five other children. I continue to pray for the Lord’s protection over Emmanuel and for a life-saving faith for both mom and baby!

The name Emmanuel means “God with us”, it is the name given to nearly every baby boy born on Christmas Day in Kenya. I want to share with you the story of a baby boy named Emmanuel who truly had the protective hands of God wrapped around him for the first few days of his life.

About nine months ago, a 34 year old widow found herself in a desperate situation. Her husband had passed a way a few years back leaving her with five children to care for on her own. As is the norm for Kenyan culture, she lived on the land of her in-laws while she did whatever work she could find to support herself and her children. After a poor choice was made, she found herself pregnant. She could not reveal this news to anyone. Her in-laws, who were heavy consumers of alcohol, would surely kick her out of her home.

As her pregnancy progressed she tried to do the right thing by seeking prenatal care in clinics located hours away from her home; doing everything possible to keep her secret safe. As the time to deliver this baby drew near, she approached the father of the baby and asked him for $50 to go to the hospital to deliver the baby when the time came. At this, he left the area and did not return.

What had been an already anxiety filled pregnancy now became a truly desperate situation. She knew if she told her in-laws they would kick her out of her home with her five children. She suspected that if she delivered the baby at home, they may even try to kill the newborn baby. She even feared going to the hospital to deliver as she did not know and was very fearful about what would happen after the delivery, and she knew she couldn’t pay a hospital bill on her own.

On Christmas Day her contractions started. She knew this baby would be born soon. In her desperation, in a truly hopeless state, she made the decision to walk deep in to the forest to deliver her baby. Her plan was to die in the forest with her baby. You see, in the state she was in, she honestly felt that this was the best option for both herself and her unborn child. She had seen other women die in childbirth and she assumed that delivering alone in the forest would mean death for her too. So she slipped out of her home unnoticed in the evening and walked into the forest, into the dark night. At some point the pain of labor became too much and she laid down on the ground. She tells us that sometime after laying down she passed out. When she awoke her baby was lying on the ground, cold and wet. She picked him up, did what she could to tie off the umbilical cord and held him against her in the cold night.

Morning came. She was still alive and her baby was still alive. She didn’t know what to do. she pondered taking the baby home but feared for his life. She stayed quietly in the forest. As evening approached once more, she decided that she had to go back to her home and check on her other children. She knew she couldn’t take this newborn baby so she carefully placed him in a shallow pit in the ground and packed dirt around him to keep him warm. She walked back to her home, fed her children, then slipped out again and returned to the forest. There she found her baby unharmed just as she had left him. She picked him up and the two of them spent another night in the forest.

The next morning she reached a breaking point. Something had to be done. Not knowing what else to do, she placed the baby on the ground again, covered him with dirt and the one thin blanket she had, and then she left him. She walked to a neighbor’s house to get help. Unfortunately, her actions were misjudged by the neighbor and upon hearing the story the neighbor accused her or trying to kill her baby by abandoning him in the forest and even called the police to report her.

This is how I met mom, brought in by police and angry neighbors with a critically ill baby. Emmanuel arrived hypothermic, septic, dehydrated, and barely alive. He was covered in dirt. Mom didn’t look much better and it was obvious that she was both physically and emotionally exhausted. Praise be to God, baby Emmanuel responded to medication and warmth! Within 48 hours he was looking like a normal baby. There is no doubt that just as his name suggests, God was with him!

Mom had several meetings with our social workers and chaplains until we were all sure that the truth behind this messy story was a profound example of a mother’s love, of a mother doing what she could for her baby in a hopeless situation, with no intention of harm. I wish that I could say that mom had a revival of faith or a new found hope in Christ, but I am not sure that is the truth. I can say that through our interactions we were able to find a solution that protected the lives of this mama, her newborn baby, and her five other children. I continue to pray for the Lord’s protection over Emmanuel and for a life-saving faith for both mom and baby!

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