A New Confidence in Chibule

We were given 3 students who are in our Advanced Missions Training program to shadow Manon and I for a week.  It was fun to have them with us as we connected with some of the families that I have seen God touch in the last 3 years. Due to their geographic location, I don’t often get back out to visit.IMG_0285

First stop was in Chilbule village. God miraculously saved Jonathon’s life and ministered to his mom Janet during his birth at Nsongwe. Their story is here.  Last time we visited, all the adults in their family chose to follow in the ways of Jesus. This time we encouraged them to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and know with confidence that God wants to use them to minister in their own community. After we prayed for them, we asked if anyone was sick and wanted us to pray for them. One older woman said her back, hips and legs hurt and she could barely walk. So our team prayed for her. Nothing drastically improved, but while we were praying I heard the Spirit of God saying that her family needed to pray for her. So I instructed them to pray for her healing. Immediately God healed her and she jumped up stomping her feet and stretching her back.

Soon Janet’s family began yelling for their neighbors to come so we could pray for them. And then four ladies and one man walked with us from house to house, showing us their neighbors who were sick. Five elderly women who had leg and back pain were healed. Another woman asked for prayed because her neighbors were accusing her of being a witch and harming people in her community. Even the children laid their hands on the sick and prayed with us.

Innocent needed prayer for his legs. We found him carving a cane out of wood in front of his tiny mud hut. After we prayed and God miraculously healed him, he started running around his yard showing us how great he felt. Praise God!

One of my favorite testimonies was about two hours later when one lady confessed that she had terrible back pain, but kept quiet and never asked for us to pray for her. Yet she walked around with us praying for her neighbors, and while she was praying for someone else, God miraculously healed her back. What a loving Father we have!

I am so thankful that God uses us to bring His love and peace everywhere we go. As we left we encouraged Janet’s family to continue listening for the voice of God, telling others of His love and salvation, and to pray with confidence to anyone who is sick or oppressed. IMG_0275

 

 

Bold and disobedient = History changers.

When I started on my journey of midwifery, I genuinely had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had not really done much research on the history of midwives or what it meant to be “with woman” (the core definition of midwifery).  I only knew that it would be a vocation that would allow me to be a part of making a difference in maternal and neonatal mortality rates specifically in developing countries. Yesterday was the International day of the Midwife. I am proud to know, and stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the strongest, most courageous, beautiful women in all the corners of the world. Willing to fight against the odds so that dignity can be restored, hope can endure, healing can begin and life can prevail victoriously .

Our history as midwives is not just a job but a calling that is one of my favorite stories from Scripture. A whole nation had been enslaved for years under cruel, ruthless bondage. It seemed as though God had forgotten them as they labored in the desert making bricks. And yet in the midst of their suffering, they somehow were fertile enough that their captors began to worry about an uprising from their thriving population. So the Pharaoh calls for the Israeli midwives who served the slaves, instructing them to kill every male baby.

And they refused. The midwives, Puah and Shiprah, feared God and in direct defiance to the Pharaoh’s orders, allowed the babies to live.  They were called back and once again questioned as to why they were not killing the male children.  Shiprah and Puah lie to the Pharaoh, implying that Israeli slave women birth so quickly that the midwives had missed the births.

For these women to live in such bold disobedience to authority was a testimony of their convictions. Within the Jewish culture, women did not typically defy male leadership. As a slave living in horrific conditions, their resistance to Pharaoh’s edict could have easily led to severe punishment and death. But here were women who knew that God had called them to this moment in history, and they feared God.  And God blessed their rebellion and established their own families and identity within their nation and honored their names for the rest of history.

These midwives became a beacon of hope during a season of life when all seemed lost. God was beginning to raise up individuals to be a part of setting the nation of Israel free from their captivity. They refused to accept their status as mere slave women.

I love the irony of God’s heart as He sets the plan of redemption into play. Lets find the least valued members of society and use them to set a nation free. Here are two women who were either single or barren in a culture where your ability to produce offspring defined your value. At a time in history where womens’ voices held no authority; in a court of law a woman’s testimony was usually invalid because she was viewed as ineligible witness. As slaves, they had no rights.

But these women feared God. They counted the cost, and decided that they would risk death rather than walk in the defined role that had been designated for them. Two ordinary women refused to accept that their destiny was merely surviving. Two midwives changed the course of history and helped to set a nation free. May we live in such a way to look at each situation though the lens of God’s love and character. These midwives didn’t live in fear of their circumstances because they had rightly understood God’s heart and lived in a true reverence (fear) that He was who He said He was – and that He was more powerful than any state of life one may face . May we live as midwives who are willing to fight against a culture of oppression and slavery, to protect the vulnerable, and stand in defiance against anyone or anything that attempts to mold us into anything but what God has created for us to be. Because somedays absolute rebellion is required to save a life or bring freedom to the captives.

Audacity defined.

A willingness to take bold risks. (showing an ability to take risks with confidence and courage) Intrepid (fearless, unflinching, adventurous) Boldness. Arrogant or Bold. A disregard of normal restraints.

I am not sure what first drew me to this word, but as I have been meditating on it over the last few weeks I love it more and more. Because I feel like this defines my favorite people. The ones I look up to and aspire to imitate. The saints, the pioneers, the faithful, the unnamed who have fought the good fight, even friends who are currently in the middle of a beautiful messy journey of faith.

Those who have pursued the face of God and learned how to love others well. The ones who have refused to submit to the cultural norms and quietly look the other way. Dying to oneself so that others can know the grace and freedom that Abba Father gives. Looking at the statistics and refusing to let them remain unchecked. Learning the history of the land that has only know oppression and darkness and drawing a line in the sand – today is the day. No more, never again. What my eyes have seen, the stories I have heard; I can no longer claim ignorance. I must share in the responsibility to bring change.

Because we have the audacity to believe that God is the solution. That as we intercede, nations that have known nothing but generations of war will see peace. The spiritual realm will be shaken as we fast and pray for strongholds of the enemy to be broken in the powerful name of Jesus. The boldness to believe that hope and new life will rise from the ashes of destruction. Not because we have all the answers or a trendy program to save the world – but because since God spoke creation into existence and the fall of man, the plan of redemption was put int motion. And we have the privilege to be a part it!

Because we have the hope to believe that oppression and slavery will be eradicated by love. For the ones who have been exploited, to know justice and healing of body soul and spirit. That we have been created in the image of God and that our value is defined by Him alone.

Because we have the boldness to ask our Father with shameless persistence for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. For justice and compassion to be rightly distributed, for  living water to spring forth in the desert, for after generations of abuse and brokenness that families can know the love of His reconciliation.

The courage to believe in what we cannot yet see – but by faith, in hope believing against hope; that the word of God would come to pass and that we can hold tightly to His every promise. Unwavering, growing strong in our faith as we give all glory and honor to Almighty God. Fully convinced that God is able to do what He had promised. (Romans 4) Immeasurably more than anything we could ask or imagine!

My friends have the audacity to look at an island that was once a port of the slave trade and declare FREEDOM.

My friends have the audacity stand in the dust of a land marked by war and drought and call forth life giving RAIN.

My friends sit under a mango tree with illiterate bush people and say, YOUR NAME IS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE.

My friends have the audacity to live in a place known for the exploitation of the vulnerable and cry out the MERCY, HEALING, AND JUSTICE OF GOD IS YOURS.

My friends who believe that little ones can join in the plans of the kingdom of God, filled with His Spirit, instead of just being another mouth to feed.

My friends who will hold the hand of the sick while flies swarm around open sores and to intercede with confidence for a miracle of HEALING.

My friends who will go to places deemed corrupt and unsafe, because no one else is going with to these remote locations with the power of the Gospel.

Friends who have buried loved ones and walked through unimaginable personal tragedy but believe that God’s call is greater than their pain, and THEY SING: WORTHY IS THE LAMB.

These are my favorite people who are setting a new standard of doing whatever it takes to carry Our Father’s love to the ends of the earth. INTREPID. BOLD. COURAGEOUS. UNFLINCHING (and maybe a little bit crazy).

 

 

 

Zambia – Helping Babies Breathe

During the month of November we taught our first Helping Babies Breathe class in Zambia.  So proud of the students and the great improvements they made in just a few hours. Confident that next time a baby is born at this clinic, there are 6 ladies who now have a new skill set to help save lives. Before today 5/6 of the staff had never held a bag valve mask. img_3123

“Usually out of the 30-40 babies born at this clinic each month 4 or 5 have problems breathing or do not breathe. If the ambulance is available we have to wait 30 minutes before it arrives to transport the baby to the hospital”
(30 minutes is a long time to wait for help when you have 1 minute to get oxygen to the brain of the baby to prevent long term brain damage and death)

This clinic delivers between 70-80 babies per month. The midwives and nurses have to begin ventilation before the 1 minute buzzer. They all did such a great job learning. Only 2/10 had used a bag valve mask or bulb suction before our class.
So thankful that God has given us this opportunity to teach these health care providers: their new knowledge will impact many many lives

One woman started working as a nurse and midwife when she was 19 years old. Today at 65 years of age she learned how to use a bag valve mask for the first time. She said we were trained to hold the babies upside down and hit them until they cried. She was so happy we came today, and was asking when we are coming back to teach the next class? So thankful for this opportunity to share life-saving skills with the midwives and nurses in Zambia.

This is Julia, she has been a midwife in Zambia for 24 years. Her clinic was very busy today and everyone else went home before the class started. She was the only one who stayed, truly hungry for knowledge. Today she learned for the first time how to resuscitate a baby. Although it was super hot in this tiny room and we didn’t have any electricity, we had a fun afternoon with this dear woman. Her clinic is one of the busiest in Livingstone delivering about 100 babies a month.

There are now 4 clinics in Livingstone that have nurses and midwives trained to help save lives, and have the supplies to put this training into action.  Here is the link for the amazing video that my teammate Manon made.

Quiet, bold forgiveness

“I” is one of my favorite people. She is quiet and unassuming but is a mighty woman of God. I first met her as a translator during my missions training program in 2011. We didn’t talk much, but she seemed like a lovely person. Then I was blessed to be her midwife for her last child’s birth. It was a cold night and she labored well, giving birth to a perfect baby boy. Then she asked me to name him. David -it seemed fitting to call him as a man after God’s heart.

In the following months she came to Bible study with a timid smile and a beautiful voice to help us lead worship. One day we had a group of people visiting the area for a meeting, and they asked to join up with our ladies Bible study.  After hearing of the love of God, available to all, many were saved. “I” helped us close out the meeting in songs of praise, and then she walked home. Her 6 month old baby tied to her back in the traditional fabric chitengie.

The next morning I arrived at the clinic for prenatal checkups. I went on a search for the scale that we all share, and was stunned to find the next room covered in blood. First of all: what happened? It was an incredible amount of blood for our clinic to see such trauma (we are more equipped to deal with upper respiratory infections, diarrhea and malaria). And second of all, why did no one clean it up?!?!?! There was blood all over the bed, the wall, the floor.

As I looked for answers, our security guard told me the story. Someone was stabbed with a knife, had been taken to the hospital, and was not expected to survive. The pronouns in his story got a little mixed up and so when he told me that I knew the person who had been stabbed I was expecting it to be one of the guys that works on the base that perhaps had gotten into a bar fight. No, you delivered her baby. What?!?! Finally we got it sorted out that it was “I”. Through spotty cell service I was able to send a message back to the missionaries on the base to start praying.

Later as the story was clarified, we found our that “I” has a brother that is mentally unstable, probably demon possessed. He often wonders in the bush for weeks at a time and is essentially homeless. He had arrived at “I’s” house hungry and a bit agitated as “I” got home from Bible study. He saw her chicken and wanted to eat it, but “I” told him she would make him something else to eat. In a fit of rage, he picked up the knife and began to chase her, stabbing her in the back and side.

Miraculously, “I” had just taken the baby off her back seconds before she was attacked. She was taken to the hospital by local transportation and again miraculously survived a tension pneumothorax and chest tube placement at the government hospital. She describes the experience as filled with peace and the presence of God. I’ve spent some time at the hospital – it surely was a miracle that she felt peace in that place as God spared her life.

Her recovery, understandably took some days, but soon she was back to Bible study. Her brother was arrested and put in jail. Two years later she continues to share testimony after testimony of how God saved her life, and brought peace to her fears and purpose to her life. Last month when her brother was to be released from jail, we surrounded her with prayers for protection and peace to fill her heart and mind. He would be going back to her sister’s house which was about 1.5 hours walk away.

Last week at our Christmas party, we took some time to reflect and look back on the promises of God and how He has answered prayer. “I” wanted to share a testimony. She said that after we prayed for her she no longer feared her brother. And then she was reminded of what we have been studying in the book of Acts. After Saul’s encounter with God on the road, which left him blind, he was taken to the house of Judas. God showed Ananias in a vision that he was to go pray for Saul. Ananias was obviously hesitant to go see Saul because Saul had been persecuting and killing Christians. But God says, Go! Saul is my chosen instrument to take the Gospel to all mankind. And in obedience, Ananias goes and calls Saul his brother, praying for him and God removes the scales of blindness. In a great act of faith and forgiveness, Ananias declares over Saul that he will no longer he called a murderer, but chooses to see him in the same way that God does. Forgiven, called and set apart for ministry. After studying these verses, “I” says that she went to see the man who had tried to kill her, and she chose to forgive him, and that she called him her brother. Then they sat and talked.

We rejoice in God’s faithfulness to bring healing and reconciliation to this family. I am honored to have such a strong, beautiful woman as my friend.

 

Helping Babies Breathe in Congo!

Years after God first put this idea of teaching community health care workers into my heart… it is finally happening!!! There have been challenges along the way; delays of corruption and a broken system in Zambia, the frustrations of double standards. Tears and prayers that come when you see death and malpractice in the very scenarios you want to teach about… and yet your hands are tied.

Every once in a while I would ask the Lord; was I confused and attempting to make things happen according to my own agenda or is this still from you? And every time He would answer me, I have put this inside of you, just wait for my timing and my way.

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I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to teach two classes of Helping Babies Breathe while we were up in Congo. One class was at a clinic, the other at a hospital. At each location they told us the statistics of how many births happen each month, how many babies are born with complications, and how some of them have been trained years ago, but currently lack the resources to resuscitate babies.

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“During the day we carry the baby to the other wing of the hospital so that some one in the operating theater can attempt to help them. But at night the babies usually die.”

“We used to have some equipment, but it is all broken now and we try to help those babies, but it does not always work. But some of us are Christians, so we try to pray for the babies.”

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Our learners ranged in experience from student nurses shadowing at a clinic, to midwives and nurses with years of experience, ER Doctors, Family Practice Physicians, a Doctor finishing her residency and even a Nurse Anesthetist. Some had foundational principals of the concepts we taught, others had shocking skill sets (of resuscitation) for the job description and position they held. Thankfully, all said that at the end of the day they felt more equipped for handling emergencies. And they asked when are you coming back to teach the next class?  And we would also like a Bible study when you return, because what you have shared today was very encouraging.

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I was so blessed by the warm welcome and hospitality of these wonderful people.  Because of the generosity of some of my dear friends and supporters, we left resuscitation equipment (all of which are reusable and can be put in the autoclave!) for each department of the hospital and clinic, in addition to each student having a textbook to take home. There are now 20 Congolese staff (and our wonderful translator by default!) who are trained, feeling more confident, and have the equipment accessible to help save the lives of newborn babies.

In a country where the maternal and neonatal mortality rates are staggeringly high (some of the worst in the world), we are excited to equip national health care providers to begin the fight for each life.

 

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Last month I was given permission to teach within a health district here in Zambia. Two days ago we stopped by the office to check and see if any classes had been set up (since no one was answering their phones). We met with a new Peace corp volunteer who is super excited about our program and promised to get the ball rolling in our area. Please keep praying about this opportunity, that God would continue to open doors.

If you would like to give financially, your donation goes for each student to have a text book in their language, and for each clinic or facility department we teach at to be given the supplies to implement what they have learned. Please fill out your personal billing information and then in the space “DONATION MEMO” write 3080M or Helping Babies Breathe supplies.  If you mail in a check to Overland, please attach a note specifying that it is for Helping Babies Breathe.

Letters of approval

We are happy to see you. You are most welcome to teach the class… but where is the paper we gave you last year with the stamp of approval? First we must see that document.

When our lawyer, translator and dear friend passed away a few months ago, his desk was moved and some of our documents got misplaced. So when our team went back to DRC last month, the family helped us sort through things and we found everything except the piece of paper from the health district giving me permission to teach and work in Congo. I had a “you have got to be kidding me!” moment in my head and then we decided to go and have our meeting with the health district anyway. I kept hearing God’s peace tell me not to worry. He had brought me this far, He would not fail me.

We went from office, to office, another phone call, the other office, to the home of a town official and then back to the first office. We love what you want to do, but without that paper we need to start the whole process again. I had a copy of the document on my computer in Zambia, but it would take a bit of work to talk someone through the process of scoring over my computer. I kept praying as we walked back to the taxi. And then suddenly God gave me an idea. What if I showed him a picture of the document?

It was worth a try. So I pulled up a blog from last year with a picture of me holding up the approval paperwork and stamp. Approximately 75% of the document could almost be clear enough to read if you zoomed in a bit. Oh the wonders of technology! We went back to the home of the town official, apologized to bother him once again, and would be please look at this picture.

By some miracle he said that the picture was proof enough and now he would approve for the Doctor (who had previously approved and gave me said document) to allow me to teach. He walked with us back to the his office, although he already gone home for the day and 30 minutes later he was going through the books and making a couple phone calls.

We drove back to the city we were staying in and met the Doctor who is in charge of the Health District. He was quite excited that we had finally returned and promised to set up some classes. He looked over the teaching material and mannequins that I brought and thanked us again for returning to Congo. Our people really need to learn this, he said.

Four days later we were at a hospital and a clinic, teaching Helping Babies Breathe, while students gathered around to practice, and the random chicken ran through the classroom. My heart was rejoicing over the miracle of paperwork and favor from the governing authorities that once again God had allowed our team to move forward with ministry in Congo.