John and Bethany Arndt

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Category Archives: Africa

Couple visits the safe their adopted baby was left in.

April 22nd, 2012 by | Leave a comment

A German couple visited our original baby safe recently. They were not there to see how to volunteer, or to learn how to install and manage their own baby safe like most others. They came because their newly adopted daughter was left in it last August.

Emotional? Yes. But joy and gratitude were the strongest feelings they expressed. She wasn’t dumped in the ditch, bushes, or rubbish heap. Her mother made a well thought out plan in not being able to care for her child. Sure it was a last resort, but it in fact was a bold choice and we rejoiced with this family as they learned about where there baby came from.

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The baby without a name.

February 27th, 2012 by | Leave a comment

Psalm 8:2-4 – “Give Justice to the poor and the orphan, uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and the helpless; deliver them from the grasp of the evil people.”

When we first heard of her a YWAM volunteer had met her (Rachel), she lay alone in a small shack on a bed, with no nappy on, lying in her own feces, unable to lift her head she was so weak. This volunteer immediately phoned Baby Safe. She had also met the mother moments after, drunk and completely disinterested in her baby.

Her first thoughts were to get her to the local clinic and the mother agreed to go with her. They sat in the Masi clinic for hours in the waiting room before they were seen. Rachel felt frustrated that the process was so slow but also had the sense that she was involved in helping direct the course of this baby’s life. When they were finally seen, the doctor took one look at the mother and rolled her eyes.

Apparently unknown to us, this woman had quite a reputation in the community, and it was not a good one. Rachel asked to see the baby’s records and began to read a horrific account of child abuse starting at 3 months old when she was admitted to hospital for a fracture in her neck, after been hit over the head with a pan. There was also a note that the mother had already had 4 of her other children removed from her care.
Sadly, there were many similar stories, and to our shock everyone of them had been over looked by doctors and social workers. Our hearts were compelled to see an end to this baby girl’s nightmare. We knew that God had a plan to rescue her.

The next weeks in Masi,  I instructed Rachel on how to advocate for this child, knowing that it would be a long and arduous process. The local social services have very little protocol for removing a abused child. I was in the middle of several other complex cases so I asked Rachel to begin what would become a 7 month fight for this babies freedom. She spent many hours a day in the social workers office. At the time there was only one social worker there and she was in charge of over 500 cases. She was overworked and overwhelmed by her work load, to the point where there was little progress in any of the cases. Rachel thought a case as severe as this would be urgently attended to, she thought the removal would be instant, but she was in for a shock.

To follow were many meetings with the mother and child, many 2nd chances and excuses, and several violent outbreaks by the mother. At one point the mother disappeared with the baby and we couldn’t find her for days. This baby’s life was in serious danger, she was only getting thinner and being fed breastmilk from her alcoholic mother.

Weeks past and Rachel had to leave. We prayed for her a lot.  Baby Safe took on her case and for a while there was no progress, but we continued to pray. In fact, we could never even got this baby’s name accurate, so in team prayer we petitioned for the release of  “the Masi Baby.” On 2 occasions I finally got the social worker and police go to remove her, but each time the mother ran away. The frustration grew… I went to the  social service supervisors and even the Children’s Magistrate demanding intervention.

After four different planned removals, she was finally rescued and placed in our care ( a Baby Safe safety family). As a team we rejoiced in a long fight resulting in victory, all on behalf of a delicate little girl who had no name. One of the big concerns was the she would suffer withdrawls from the alcohol.  After being prayed over and placed in a safety family she was completely fine, and we had finally learned her name (not to be mentioned here). She was 1/3 the weight she should have been and she displayed intense fear at times, but she was now safe.

Her removal was not the end of the fight, to our shock her mother and father were contesting the removal in court and demanding to have the child back. The warfare surrounding her life was great. Things even got so twisted that the Masi social worker was considering returning the child! With the efforts of our foster family and our refusal to back down, we convinced the magistrate of the necessity for her to be placed in long term foster care. Mom and Dad have even been giving the opportunity to visit her, but the few times the mom has even shown up, she has been drunk.

A 2nd year birthday party was thrown by some of the Baby Safe team, along with her foster parents.  She burst through the door with fairy wings on, running, giggling full of Joy! The whole party she was stuffing cake into her mouth, playing with her new toys and making everyone smile. We couldn’t believe how different she looked and acted.

To be honest most of the child welfare cases that we are involved in here don’t come without a similar battle. These lives are of immense value to the Father and Africa’s future will be in their hands. Rachel who originally found this baby and advocated for her was here on a short term mission’s trip, she has since returned to South Africa with her husband to work full time with Baby Safe.

Blood Sacrifice

February 4th, 2012 by | Leave a comment

They offer the blood of dead goats and cows to the spirits of their ancestors. They are hoping to honor and appease them with this form of worship. They are looking for protection. They believe if they remember and sacrifice to them then good fortune and favor will come. If they do not, then curses and harm may come. This is the Xhosa tradition; although many African tribes worship this way. The ancestors are seen as having the power of life and death, much like the God many of us worship. A baby is born; make a sacrifice. A family member dies: make a sacrifice. A wedding takes place: make a sacrifice and participate in rituals that will honor the ancestors.

It was no surprise that Sihle’s mother who is a Sangoma, an authorized and respected traditional healer, was planning a sacrifice for the ancestors because Sihle had just met her Father. After 21 years of wondering, searching, and hoping; he had been found and he accepted her. Sihle however does not worship the ancestors anymore, she believes that God is the only one worthy of such worship and Jesus was our sacrifice for approval, once and for all. She prays that this ritual will not happen on her behalf. She is a minority among her people, even most “Christians” still believe the ancestors must be feared & honored. After prayer by us, we sense God is at work and will even send angels to bring revelation to this woman. Her mother has no money to buy the animal to make the sacrifice. The matter comes to an end.

Sihle’s mother prays and communicates with the “ancestors” – she is seen as a spirtitual medium in her community. People pay her money to cast spells and obtain mooti. Mooti is charms and substances that are seen as anointed. When placed on people bodies or in their homes, the purchaser can expect their curse or blessing from the ancestors to come true. In some South African settings extreme mooti is required, human body parts, the wombs of pregnant women, and organs of young children. Mooti killings are not unheard of. In addition every African can describe stories where Mooti has caused people to die, to be healed, to get jobs. Often when someone has a need, the traditional healer is sought after. There are signs all over the townships advertising traditional remedies, “Call Doctor Java; CURES AIDS, INFERTILITY, UNFAITHFULNESS.” Etc. Mostly this is a sad way of scheming already poor people out what little they have. Its just like buying a lottery ticket. The chance of winning is worth it to them, but the odds of success are next to nothing.

This is Sihle’s mother’s livelihood. This is how they pay the rent. Her mom has shown a split personality at times. In a drunken rage one night and a hospitably leader the next day. Sihle and our team pray for this woman because we believe that she is a gifted spiritual leader, just working for the wrong team. She has sensed power behind Sihle’s prayers and has started to ask her daughter to pray for the sick, knowing she will only be praying to Jesus alone.

This week “someone” woke her mom up at 2am. She heard “read Acts 9:34″ it is a story where the apostle Peter found a man who has been paralyzed for 8 years, he says ” Jesus heals you”, and this man got up and walked. She felt strongly that she was supposed to pray to Jesus alone for MY healing.

There are some days when I have to cancel all my plans because I have so much pain in my body. This is from Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.  The days when we intervene with an abandoned baby, remove a child from abuse, a woman cancels her abortion, or some sort of spiritual success happens I feel the worse; spiritual retaliation. This happens like clock work unless I ask at least 3 people to pray for me. When I remember to, I am fine. Needless to say, I was skeptical of letting a witchdoctor pray over me. I know God can not be confined by our religious paradigms, so after prayer I felt a peace about going to visit this searching Sangoma. I knew God was at work.

Because she speaks only Xhosa Sihle and Zamo were there, trusted disciples of Jesus. She had gathered other family and friends to pray also and by the looks of it another healer was there, who was wearing the traditional white head wrap with beads and paint on. They prayed for me to Jesus alone, and I felt a very familiar feeling; its the tangible power of God all through by body. The same feeling I get every time my husband and my house church pray for my healing. The pain I feel all the time, it dissipates and I enjoy several hours feeling no pain. God does not show partiality. His gifts are irrevocable. She has the gift of healing, we pray she will have revelation of using it for the glory of God alone and not for the exploitation of poor people’s banal hopes.  He uses witch doctors, He will uses prostitutes (i.e. Rahab). He will use a donkey to give a message (i.e. Balaam). He so often leaves the 99 to go after the one. He is pursuing Sihle’s mom.

The Poisonwood Bible

December 15th, 2011 by | Leave a comment

The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver

This was my second attempt and I am thankful it was more successful and more enjoyable than my first. In fact several people have told me they couldn’t get through it. Yes , it was in Oprah’s book club, but Men please do look past this.  I think I was able to make the long trek  5 years later, because of one thing; I am a learner of Africa. For readers who are fascinated with the “dark continent”, this is a must read. I was slowly drawn into this portrait of the Congo; painted as the backdrop for a fire and brimstone, Baptist, missionary who drags his wife & 4 daughters to “save the pagans”  of Africa. The book is written from the voices of each daughter and the wife. One year in the heart of the Congo, during its noble fight for independence from Belgium and this family is forever changed. The militant religion of the father will provoke outrage in the reader, as he stampedes his way into a precious culture than ultimately refused to let him in. But the villagers aren’t his only victims, his family also suffers greatly. While the character development is less than amazing it eventually hooked me; but this books main value is in its unique presentation of African anthropology. Being unsure of the authors background, I became increasingly convinced that she had to have been a personal witness to post colonial Congo; man eating ants, deadly serpents, the struggle for daily survival, witchcraft, village politics and the heart wrenching effects of governments thinking they can do whatever they want;  this book will leave an imprint.