Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Confessions of a Prayer Warrior

God has given me a child!

About thirty years ago, my father delivered an out of wedlock baby to a teenage mother. By the time this baby was born, my parents were no longer on the mission field. Rather, they lived in a small town in West Virginia where my father had a medical practice. The baby he delivered was to be adopted. But things did not go as expected. When the baby made her entrance into the world, it was evident that she was bi-racial rather than Caucasian as the adoptive parents had thought she would be. After discussing the situation, the adoptive parents changed their minds about adopting her. She was a perfectly normal, completely healthy, and absolutely beautiful baby girl but was not wanted by these would-be parents…or seemingly anyone else in that small West Virginia town in the early 1980’s. She had no home to go to, no loving touch of a mother’s hands, no strong safe arms of a father to hold her.

My parents put the word out that there was a child who needed a Christian home. I remember it well because my husband and I considered adopting her. She was born about one month ahead of our first child. I was very pregnant at the time and had made plans for only one baby –one crib, one car seat, etc. But if this baby had no home, we would have taken her. My husband and I decided we would wait a few weeks on the decision to see if there was a childless couple that might want her. But if she did not have a home within a couple of weeks, we would adopt her.

My parents took the baby home from the hospital. Their home was her home for the first few days of her life. My father’s arms were the strong, safe arms that held her. My mother’s hands were the gentle hands that fed her a bottle in the middle of the night.

After my parents had her for about a week with no adoptive parents coming forward, a strange thing happened at my dad’s office. It was a normal day. My dad was seeing patients as usual. One of his appointments that day was a new patient. She was an African-American woman whose husband was a pastor of a small church in the town. She was also a nurse in the operating room at the local hospital. My father knew her. He knew that she was a kind woman and a committed Christian.

My father began taking a medical history as he customarily did with new patients. He asked her why she had made an appointment to see him; what were her symptoms; what was wrong? The woman who did not know anything about the baby girl who needed a home told my father, “I have come to see if you can help me conceive. I am here for an infertility work up.” My father asked her how long she had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive a child. This was her response, “My husband and I have been married for fifteen years and in all that time we have never used birth control. We have only one child. He is an eight year old boy. Ever since he was born, I have been asking God for another child. For many years I have prayed for another baby but God has not given me one yet. And now I am getting older. I know that if I don’t have another baby soon, it will be too late and I will never have another child. I have been wrestling with this issue for a long time. Well, a few weeks ago I was praying earnestly about this – I was begging God for another baby! And as I prayed, God told me to come see you. He told me ‘Go see him and he will get you another baby.”

My father nearly fell out of his chair! He sat stunned for a few minutes trying to digest the story this woman had just told him. Then, when he finally spoke, he said, “Well…how would you like a baby today? She’s a girl. She’s a week old. And she is beautiful!” Now it was the woman’s turn to be stunned! My father proceeded to tell the shocked woman all about the baby girl at his house that needed a home. Then he gave her the name of the lawyer that was handling the adoption.

The woman immediately wanted the child! She began praising the Lord audibly and loudly right there in the office. She continued praising God as she walked out the office to go home to tell her husband. Revival just nearly broke out right there in the middle of the work day!

The woman and her husband gave this baby girl a home. They couldn’t have loved her any more if they had conceived her themselves. They taught her about Jesus. And the little girl grew up to become a beautiful young woman. She had a gifted singing voice – the voice of an angel. She made high marks in school too. She considered my parents to be like another set of grandparents to her. Her mom brought her to visit my parents often. And for their part, they kept her graduation picture on their refrigerator right beside their other grandchildren.

“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of him.” 1st Samuel 1:27 (ESV)
-said by Hannah as well as many mothers since then including this pastor’s wife in rural West Virginia..

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Confessions of a Prayer Warrior

"Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord..." Lamentations 2:19

For this Child I have Prayed (a 2 part series)

“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of him.” 1st Samuel 1:27 (ESV)
My father delivered many, many babies in his years as a physician. Every birth is a miracle and every new life is an example of God’s creative power – even all the normal births that happen routinely, without any complications. Nevertheless, sometimes a second special miracle accompanies the birth of a child. Such was the case in the two stories I will tell in this post and the next one a couple of weeks from now.

The Baby that would not breathe

My father was sitting at his desk seeing patients at the hospital in Ogbomosho, Nigeria when an orderly came running from the Maternity Center telling him that Mrs. Ladeji, the midwife matron of the Maternity Center wanted him to come quickly. My father jumped up and ran to the delivery room where Mrs. Ladeji was holding a newborn baby on a delivery table giving it mouth-to-mouth respirations. She paused long enough to tell him that she had delivered the baby about thirty minutes earlier but that it would not breathe.

My dad could see that she was exhausted from giving mouth-too-mouth respiration, so he took over the job. He gave continuous mouth to mouth reparations to the baby, pausing occasionally to see if the baby would breathe on its own - but there was no response. The baby’s heart beat was around 130 beats per minute which is normal for a new born. (If a baby’s heart rate drops below 100, the baby is in trouble.)

My father asked for a small syringe with a tiny needle and gave the baby a small dose of Caffeine Sodium Benzoate into the muscle of the thigh. He and Mrs. Ladeji rubbed the muscle so that the baby’s body would pick up the medicine. The baby took and occasional weak breath, but would have died if left to breathe on its own.

Mrs. Ladeji and my father alternated breathing for the baby, but by this time an hour had passed since the delivery and the baby was still not responding as it should. The two health professionals discussed the situation and concluded that the baby was not picking up the mild respiratory stimulant that had been given. In desperation my dad asked for another small syringe and tiny long needle through which he administered a small dose of Coramine, a stronger stimulant, and plunged the tiny long needle directly into the baby’s heart. He withdrew blood to be sure he was in the heart and then injected the Coramine. The infant responded with some stronger breaths, but still did not breathe as it should.

After about fifteen more minutes of mouth to mouth resuscitation, my father turned to Mrs. Ladeji and said: I have done all I know to do. We need to pray.”

They held the baby on their laps between them and bowed their heads. My dad prayed: “Lord, I am at the end of my rope. I do not know anything else to do. If you want this baby to breathe, you will have to do it.”

When they opened their eyes they saw the baby take its first real good breath. Within a few minutes the baby was breathing normally and it had no further trouble. Mrs. Ladeji and the midwives watched it very carefully for the next couple of days. They allowed the mother to keep the baby by her side. After a few days the mother took the baby home breathing just like any other baby.