Her story was there for all to see. She held her story in her arms.
With a soundly tenderized heart, I watched this girl-child love the girl-child she'd given birth to and love dripped from every move she made.
And I disliked this world all the more.
She lives on the side of a mountain in Africa. She buys her baby's clothes from an open air market, the kind that sells piles of used clothing from other parts of the world for cheap prices in rural places. Huge bundles find their way to Mombasa on ships. Merchants buy the bundles and carry them to every corner of Kenya where local ladies buy the large bags of clothes. It's their livelihood. They'll wash and re-fold the clothing and display it to sell on market-day. (Display means – they lay them on plastic sheets on the ground.) It's the “mall” in rural Africa.
For the young momma I watched ---- it's the only “mall” she's ever seen. She can imagine no other.
Her darling girl wears a frilly dress with thick grey leggings. The dress, a perfect fit. The leggings are far to large. Her bib is an echo from my own children's childhood. Chuck E. Cheese is printed across it with a comical mouse grinning. Instantly I remembered birthday parties where that same mouse danced on a stage and pizza filled the plates. It's a world away from this mountain-side in this rural church where girls gather.
I ask myself many times ------- what am I doing here?
“Surely they need someone with something more than me.”
It's a plaguing thought that comes when the need is so big and my skin feels too small.
But I have learned............
I have learned that my skin is not the part that matters. What a relief.
The ONE who brings us to the side of the mountain -------- HE IS THE ONE who can stand up to the need that I shrink under.
Abba knows what to do.
And I think of another young girl who has given birth to a little girl in a place far from this mountain. She too found herself with child.
She too faced the choice.
“Do I hide? Do I 'get rid of' the little one growing inside me? Do I listen to the pressures of others?” But she knew, both girls knew, “One reason this child grows inside me is because I listened to the pressures of a boy-man. He's long gone now. But I remain with a child growing inside. What am I to do?”
The story's as old as dirt itself. The momma is left to care for a child even if the “contributor “runs away.
And both girls I speak of asked the One who still saw them for help. HE still looked at them for ----- who they are ----- not for what they'd done ------ and He guided them in ways the world would not have. Both girls now hold a girl-child and love gushes between child-mother and baby girl.
And I feel the need to get on my knees.
This writing is not about pro-choice or pro-life (although I always cheer for life). But I have had to face horrific sights that have sent me to my knees and no judgement can survive in those moments. I've looked into the eyes of girls who have frantically worked to destroy the baby inside them or end it the moment it was born, because she knew the horrors it would face if she tried to keep it. I've held the girl who felt mercy was more important than life. Some of them weep. Some are like stones. The world is a cruel place. No judging is allowed.
The girl-child momma looked at her baby girl with such deep-love. She had made her choice to deliver a baby on the side of a muddy mountain and hold love in her arms for as long as she could. Her girlfriends flocked around her; as if the baby-doll they should have been able to hold as little girls was instead a breathing-baby in their half-grown arms and they were thrilled to hold something that would not hurt them. No judging is allowed.
We have come to this church to meet with over 250 girls who do not have enough money to buy what they need for their “monthlies” (as it is called here). Their parents struggle on this mountain-side to provide school fees, so providing even a few shillings more for private needs is something the girls are left to figure out for themselves. For some parents it is neglect. But for many, it's a reality of harsh life. When the choice is either food on the plate or pads for the month ------- food wins, every time. And so, as if out of a horror movie, the enemy of God takes advantage of the need. He places a dark plan in the ugly hearts of lusty old men. The crusty goats would provide a meager amount of money to any girl who would “give” herself to him. She could then go buy her needed pads, he would satiate his lusts, and he'd sit back and wait until the next young girl rapped at his gate.
Then it happened. A group of Kenyan ladies on that same mountainside met and grew courageous together.
They knew what was happening.
They knew why so many girls were getting pregnant at 12, 13, 14, and 15 years of age.
And they prayed for God to help them help the girls.
Prayers led to conversations. We were asked to pray. We prayed.
Sleepless nights overwhelmed us ------ we prayed through the dark hours.
God was clear. “Ask others to help.”
The air was as thick the morning we wrote our hearts out in an email and asked for H-E-L-P from friends back home. We could feel the weight like cement blocks on our chests.
Because the enemy of our Father knew what we were asking for and he knew it would mess up his dark plans for destruction on the mountain-side.
But we asked.
And then it came rolling in ------ the support to buy pads and undergarments for the girls came.
Generous hearts responded.
When we prayed with gratitude and asked God for guidance, He sent us to mentors for their thoughts. Wholeheartedly, they confirmed our thoughts, we should use the money given to carry a whole generation of girls in this community through the tender years of private needs ------- and enable these girls to get their education, grow up, become influential ladies someday, and then they, the young girls all grown, could become the mentors for the next generations. It would enable these wounded girls to become warrior ladies who KNEW the need and could deliver the final blows to the lusty-users on the mountain-side. And the plan was set in place by the One who heard their cries for help.
It's why we go to the mountain-side. The Kenyan ladies mentor these dear girls week after week and month after month. When we are here, we join in and encourage them all. It's beautiful. Really beautiful. Kenyan ladies helping Kenyan girls rise above what would have smothered their future.
Sunday I shared Psalm 25 with these precious girls. The church was packed, but the girls sat so still. They listened to every word given them. Their numbers have grown. They're calmer than they were 2 years ago when this all began. They smile more. They are being fed in ways life on the mountain would have left them starved and dying. 5 Kenyan mommas allow us to come alongside them as they grow up a new generation of girls. On Sunday I was allowed to offer them Jesus-in-their-heart. As their hands were filled with what they needed, their hearts were filled with the Answer.
So many wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior. They raised their hands and prayed aloud. And I know, the Kenyan mommas leading this group will disciple them week after week in the ways of Christ. We didn't count how many prayed ------ but we know that the One who loves them dearly held the number to His great heart and smiled. They are saved. They are being rescued. He knows the plans He has for them.
The girl-child holding her girl-child -------- I got to talk with her that day. She could speak no English. That means she has been unable to go to school as much as she needed. Monthlies keep girls out of school when they have no pad to stop the flow. She is/was one of the “casualties” of the mountain. She is the living proof of what had been happening.
A friend had recently invited her to come to the church to meet the ladies who are helping the girls.
That friend helped translate for me. It was the young momma's first time to come to the gathering and she was so happy to be received by the group and helped by the Kenyan-momma-mentors. No judging allowed.
It's just such a beautiful picture of the faithful way God moves in an unfaithful world.
He never gives up.
He does not turn away when we fall down.
He is ever ready to respond to the one who says, “Help me Lord”. Psalm 91:15
He is the One who “rides across the Heaven's to help us”. Deuteronomy 33:26
She left the church with more lines added to her story. Good lines. Love lines.
She carried a baby-girl in her arms when she arrived that day.
She left with her baby-girl in her arms, supplies for her monthlies in her hands, and Jesus in her heart.
And Love's arrival on the side of that muddy mountain could not be stopped.