This baby girl was born on 16th of April, 20014. I was the last stranger she met (besides the medical workers), before she was force-delivered due to the life threatening seizure attacks the mother was having that morning. My phone rang around 4:30 a.m. with her father’s desperate plead. They are expected to just sit and wait until I can get to them (it takes me more than 20 minutes to Khayelitsha on an empty highway), but they had no choice because even ambulances won’t come into the township at night. The father didn’t ask me to come, but the situation was obvious what I had to do.
I met her father for the first time during the first Righteous Men Assembly as part of the I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign early this year. He gave us a very hard time by opposing us every step of the way during the presentation. In the end, he contested us with his questionable, illegal sexual activities that contradicted the campaign message. We all suspected it, but it was only after a few months of his soul searching that he shared with us that he was a victim of sexual abuse as early as 8 years of age for many years to come. It confirmed many things that we believed about sexual violence in SA and it broke our hearts to face it personally.
He became a transformed man. He paid attention to the bible studies and he became one of the most active advocates of the Campaign. His faith for the campaign was there. However, his past of promiscuity and all the events that shaped him that way for many years wasn’t something that he could simply switch off. He had a son that he had out of wedlock and his current girlfriend was 8 months pregnant. He was still lost in the idea of marriage and, refusing to make any commitment until he is confident and ready, which he didn’t see coming anytime soon.
Wondrous things went into high gear just a few days before Indalo was born. I was sitting with him in my car and talking about marriage while we were waiting for the staff meeting. He said he was still heart-broken from losing his true love. The conversation went to what God had intended in a marriage and what to look for in a spouse to build it. That it is about how much can we treasure and respect our spouses and not our infatuations. Then he started to share about how his pregnant girlfriend had stuck through his many serious mistakes and still had been there for him. How she is respectable and forgiving towards incidents that should have hurt her severely. Especially, how much she loves him without verbalizing it once. Even though she was pregnant with his baby, they had never seriously discussed about their relationship. When we finished and walked in to the meeting, I realized my phone accidently dialled his phone, which he left at home, and was left on for 15 minutes. I simply dismissed it.
That evening, I got a message from him that his pregnant girlfriend did answer the phone (she was home) and listened in to our conversation. If it was 15 minutes, it had been during the time he was talking about her. How respectful he was towards her and it would be her that he could cherish and honour. I thought it was an incredible coincidence, which isn’t incredible at all in God’s perspective. With a single blow, God had their relationship grow deeper and more meaningful in an unimaginable way.
In the early morning of 16th of April, I walked into his shack and saw Indalo’s mother having multiple seizures with her inside the womb. I quickly prayed for her and took her to the emergency room. It was due to the high blood pressure that the baby’s life was in danger, so they performed an emergency caesarean section. The doctors said if she was left untreated any longer with more seizures, the baby could have died.
It was the Easter weekend and the baby and her mother were in the hospital and the father was home alone. The following week during the staff meeting he shared that he was struggling. He tried to drink, but he was not comfortable. He tried to hang out in his usual places, but he was not comfortable. He just stayed in bed all day, but on Saturday evening, he walked into a church. It was a life-changing experience for him. Other people’s passionate prayers didn’t intimidate him and the words from the preacher were encouraging to him. He even shared a Bible passage that inspired him.
It was only on the 24th that I got to meet Indalo personally. I am not a stranger to infants, but she was surprisingly small. I couldn’t take my eyes off the thin Q-tip sized fingers. As I was praying for her with my hand on her head, God spoke to me and gave me a conviction that everything that was happening in her parents’ lives was to prepare for Indalo and that she was truly precious. It started to make sense to me. Indalo could have been born into just another family with a father with drinking and commitment issues and a mother who lives with a broken heart. God had done many things to give her a loving family. Still, there will be serious challenges ahead, but I had faith that the family was under God’s grace. I found great peace while I was praying for her. I didn’t have much to offer to this new born baby, but God showed me a glimpse of the great Hope of the redemption to the struggles that we have in serving in South Africa.
Children (0-17) living with:
Mother only : 40%
Father only : 3%
Children with absent, living fathers: up from 42%(1996) to 48%(2009)
South Africa ranks highest in the world for single-parent households.
The problems in South Africa are multi-faceted, but there seems to be conclusive evidence that one of the largest problems is with South African men.“The failure of men to acknowledge and/or support their children, together with high rates of sexual and physical abuse, which is perpetrated mainly by men, points to a situation of ‘crisis of men’in South Africa.”(Eddy and Holborn 2011)
– From Missionary Elliot Suhr’s Report on Youth in SA.