Saturday, October 20, 2012


This is from Jenifer Peterson, Adventures in Missions staffer in Nsoko, Swaziland:

Friday afternoon Eric told me: "A community member found a baby in one of the long drop toilets...he was alive."

What does a heart do with that statement? How do you wrap your mind around such depravity; such darkness; such despair? I could feel a hard shell start to try and form its way around my heart in order to prevent me from taking it in too deeply and truly feel the meaning of the words. A throwaway a long drop...tossed away like waste...

I could not get the image out of my head all night. I knew I had to go see this little one who spent some of his first hours on this earth in such filth. I had to see this miracle with my own eyes and speak life and truth over this child in contrast to the death and decay he had been covered in.

This morning, along with Claire and one of our Swazi friends, Mxolisi, we went to visit the chief's head man for the clan in which this happened. He phoned the police and we had to pay a visit to the station house to get clearance from them, as this is not only a tribal/community matter but also a police investigation. A jacket identified as belonging to the mother of the infant was found near the scene. The young woman will most likely face serious charges. After being cleared, we drove the 50 minutes to the small rural hospital where the baby had been taken. We arrived on the ward and spoke to the nurse in charge. She brought us to two double doors and as she opened them we caught our first glimpse of the baby...a tiny, perfect baby boy laid out on a full size hospital bed. There is a small space heater in the corner of the room which makes the temperature in the room uncomfortably hot...but probably just right for this little being wearing only a diaper. He has a single IV coming out of one arm. His head is wrapped in a bandage, covering his eyes to protect him from the blue light he is under. Apparently he is a bit jaundiced, so the light will help with that. He has a few small scrapes on his tummy (the end of his umbilical cord still attached), a couple bruises on his leg and a good size abrasion along his cheek...probably sustained from his cruel drop down the 10-15 foot toilet hole. His breathing is strong. He reacts to my finger tickling the bottom of his perfect, brown foot. He clings to Claire's finger with his fingers. He is a fighter!

Swaziland Baby Joseph from Petersons

I tell the nurse that if I were to name this boy, I would name him Joseph. I ask her if she knows the story from the Old Testament about a boy who also was thrown into a pit and was saved because God had great things planned for his life. She smiled and her eyes are kind as she looks down at the baby...our Joseph. She nods her head slowly. "Joseph" she says softly. She takes a small syringe out of a cup containing white liquid (formula, I guess) and puts it to Joseph's mouth. Even in his sleep, his beautiful full lips pucker around the tip and he sucks the contents of the syringe with vigor. She gives him another syringe full and sets the cup back on the bedside table before she exits the room.

Claire, Mxolisi and I stand around the bed in awe of this incredible little gift.

"God is so good. God is just so good!" Mxolisi says this phrase over and over.

I find my Bible in my bag and read from Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

Placing my hand over his small chest, I can feel the satisfying beat of his heart. I start to pray. Thanking God for knowing this child before he was even born and knitting him together in his mother's womb. Praising God for protecting him while he was in the pit toilet. Praising God for the man who went in to use the outdoor toilet and then, hearing the cries coming up out of the darkness went for help in rescuing the baby. Thanking God for showing us that he has a plan over this baby boy's life. Asking God to continue to protect Joseph and cause him to grow ever stronger and healthier each day forward. Proclaiming that the beginning of this boy's life does not define how it will end! I also prayed for the heart of the mother who discarded her child; that God would pursue her and get a hold of her heart for His will to be done also in her life. I anoint the baby with oil as a sign that he has been set apart for great things in the Kingdom of the Lord.

I remember the day each one of my babies was born, something Eric and I did once we were settled in the recovery room with our small bundle. I start to sing and slowly Claire and Mxolisi join their voices in the celebratory chorus:

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday, dear Joseph...

Happy Birthday to you!"

Claire and I both take turns holding Joseph and giggle together when he finally opens his eyes, just for a brief couple of seconds in that sleepy, non-focused way newborns view the world. After settling him back under his light in the too big bed we leave the room, briefly looking back at the mighty, tiny warrior that we will always know as Joseph.

What will become of little Joseph? I don't know. Thankfully I know the God who does and I believe with an ardent faith that His plans and purpose for this wee one were spoken and set before time began and His love for Joseph will carry him through the days to come.


Would you please join me in praying for baby Joseph, his caregivers, and his birth mother?  Pray that through all of this God will be glorified and many will be drawn closer to Him.  Pray that Baby Joseph's little life will be used to do big things in the hearts and lives of many.  Thank you.

To read more about the Petersons' ministry in Swaziland and for future updates on Baby Joseph, visit their blog:

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