John and Bethany Arndt

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She was 9 mo. pregnant and destitute, and ironically her name was Fortunate. A cafe owner’s employees had befriended a fellow Zimbabwean who had been sleeping at the Cape Town train station. All of them where concerned about the fate of Fortunate but more so the fate of the child within here. Would she dump her baby because of such a state? Baby Safe was called so I went to meet her and hear her story, hear her heart, listen for how God might want to intervene in what was sure to be a common story of so many who have fled the effects of dictator Mugabe in the degraded, hungry, and desperate land of Zimbabwe.

She was waiting for me. Her belly protruded far beyond her feet.  She admitted her despairing state as she explained her journey which brought her here to Cape Town, but in much of the same state she was trying to escape at home…. she was still hungry, degraded and desperate. 21, pregnant, a member of a fatherless family, and an unemployed mother;  in a rage this mother told her to leave. How could she have done this? They all could barely gather food each day for the existing mouths.. and she was going to try and introduce a new mouth.. how could she?

With no where to go she decided to search for her baby’s father, this led her to Johannesburg South Africa. South Africa is the common option for many Zimbabweans seeking the hope of a mere job, a mere source of income so their family’s back home can eat. She found the man who impregnated her, for that was all he really was, because with in 48 hours of Fortunate’s arrival he had quit his job, and moved out of the flat he shared with several people. He had vanished.

She had no where to go in this massive city, one of the most dangerous ones in the world. She slept at the train station for four nights straight, begging for food. But very little set her apart from the career beggars, or the impulsive beggars alike. I tried to imagine what that must have felt like..  literally not a person to call for help, not a familiar face, not a penny left, this wasn’t a momentary distress for her, but cause for true despair. I thought of the dozens of people that I could have called had it been me and I thought of what I would have felt like had I really had to endure sleeping outside at the Johannesburg central train station for four days and nights!! Fortunate remembered a friend from Zimbabwe who had made her way to Cape Town, she got a hold of this girl,  who actually said she could come and stay with her there. In Africa when you welcome a friend or relative in your home, because of the widespread circumstances of joblessness, you are in essence saying you will feed them, and completely take them in for a time. Fortunate caught a glimmer of hope but how would she travel to Cape Town. The transport was equal to nearly $80. She approached the only people she knew in Joburg, the people who had shared a flat with her former boyfriend. They actually pooled their money and bought her the train ticket to Cape Town. More than a glimmer, she was starting to see the sun again.

Fortunate’s misfortune wasn’t over though because upon her arrival in Cape Town, this friend was not there to fetch her and she had actually turned her phone off. In being consistent with warm climate culture communication, this friend has told her what she wanted to hear but was not prepared to take her and this forth coming baby in. So there she was shattered, further despairing, further from home now and sleeping in a train station  yet again.. another four days came and went and a compassionate Zimbabwean began bringing her food, and then directed her to a nearby township where she might meet other Zimbabweans who would help. Fortunate did find the Zimbabwean section in Nyanga, however sleeping on the floor of a shack with 12 other people, was not the most comforting of help and she was still dependent on Rose for food. With her stomach overshadowing her feet and and with no proper asylum papers her hope for being hired for anything was dim.

But yet she smiled when she talked about the life with in her. I asked her the miracle question… She replied that she simple wanted to have a job, stay in South Africa and be able to take care of her baby.. “I love my baby”… One person’s absolute miracle was another person’s joy to make happen. I normally try to get such women into one of the few shelters in Capetown, but for Fortunate, I had such a bold sense that the Father wanted to show her His extravagance and display His Father’s heart by totally transforming her circumstances in an instant.

I had just paid the rent on my more than comfortable flat, and yet I was going away for a month.  I left the cafe and went to my car real quick, got the okay from my landlords, and called a couple Baby Safe volunteers to see if they could take her on while I was away. After a brief consultation with the Holy Spirit, followed by absolute peace, I went back to explain to Fortunate where she could stay, and that I would book her at the hospital nearby my house (she was 9 months along by her calculations yet hadn’t seen a doctor once), that I would introduce her to a group of Zimbabwean Christians in Masi, which is the township across the street from my neighborhood, that Michelle would take her to hospital for labor, that Kate would teach her what to expect, and how to care for the baby and help her with a CV ( resume) and brainstorming for where to apply for jobs, that Baby Safe would provided a month of groceries, and more baby clothes and items then she could have dreamed of getting, and I also just so happened to have a spare cell phone that she could have as well. Fortunate took a breathe and with tears streaming down her face, she started saying thank you, over and over…

I love how Jesus LOVES making the severely unfortunatemore than fortunate.

Upon my return back to Cape Town, Fortunate had moved out of my place as she had committed to, (left it in splendid order), was employed full time and had a new place to stay (all an actual a true miracle!!!), and best of all a truly precious baby girl that she calls Tanyaradzwa, which in her native tongue means, ” I am comforted.”

” Speak up for those who can not speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  Proverbs 31:8-9

tanya2( photos used and story told with permission)


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4 Responses to Fortunate

  1. marcy smith says:

    Bethany – these stories are both heartwrenching and miraculos all at the same time. reading them puts a fire in my gut. so thankful for how God is using you. You are a champion!! thanks for sharing we continue to pray Bethany . To God be the Glory!!!

  2. Hannah says:

    That was beautiful.

    I got chills at the end.

    Thank you for giving me another glimpse/another story of His faithfulness.

  3. bianca says:

    Beautiful Beth!

  4. janet says:

    Glad you shared the story with everyone. “That Jesus is a good Boy!”

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