John and Bethany Arndt

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Category Archives: Masiphumelele

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.

new safes = new babies

February 20th, 2012 by | Leave a comment

These four baby safes will be finished this week. One is going to Johannesburg and one is going to Swaziland, both places are rife with baby dumping. One will replace our original safe here in the valley, and the other is meant to be installed in Masiphumelele.

This little sweetheart was left at 11am in our Fish Hoek safe last week. I wish I could show you her ultra adorable face. We estimated her to be 5 months, although its hard to say exactly. She was healthy although clearly stressed by the days events, unable to eat at first and very tense. Meehan & Dan had her for the night before she was transfered to her foster home, pre-adoption. In her first hours she would only stop crying if she was swinging on the tire swing Dan erected hanging from there shower rod.

We are excited about new baby safe sites. The one going to Johannesburg is headed to a ministry that largely inspired the founding of Baby Safe. They are set up in JOburg city centre, an urban sprawl of poverty and crime. For years they have run a “hole in the wall” attached to a children’s home, similar to a baby safe its meant to collect unwanted babies. They run half a dozen children’s homes and have received hundreds of babies through their “Door of Hope”. We were honored when they contacted us to order a baby safe providing them with newer and safer features, in order to save more lives.

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 Ripple Effect

December 9th, 2011 by | Leave a comment

We ask God to do things. He asks us to do things. We both act and more links are added to the Kingdom chain of events. It becomes a cycle of faith and obedience that vibrates outwards to the lives around us, unassuming and grace blasted. The ripples multiply.

I have been asking the Lord for two years to give Baby Safe property for His full vision to come to pass;  a village that welcomes destitute, beaten down, vulnerable women and their children; and offers them safety, healing and empowerment through Jesus. Those who engage will be trained in a job skill and molded into conduits of His kingdom, channeling the same hope and restoration to the communities they settle in. Victims turned leaders; beauty for ashes.  A village that sings destiny over abandoned babies and nurtures them pre adoption, cared for at our own baby home; a radiant village of sorts.

Feeling that the time of acquisition is near, my team and I listen for further instruction on how He wants to provide such a place. We asked Him to move, He asked me to ask my brother to consider funding such a property. My big brother asks to come to South Africa to see.  My dad decides to come  as well. As plans emerge God asks my dad to invite a retired oral surgeon and his wife, my younger brother and his best friend. We welcome these six Americans and introduce them to our world.

Rewind two months, I am sitting at a cafe sipping coffee with a dear friend and baby safe staff member. She unpacks her worries about marrying the man she loves. They want to do it, they just have no idea how to pay the bride price her family will require, nor how they will finance a wedding on their own. Living in the township on standard south african wages just does not allow for such things. I encourage her to raise her expectations of what God will do and how he will use her spiritual family to provide some how. They get engaged in faith and ask God to work.

Rewind 12 months, John sells all he owns, quits his jobs, packs two suitcases, and moves to South Africa; no prospect of work here due to visa restrictions, no known missionary supporters. He prays for  four things; 1) financial supporters for his work with All Nations, obtained through prayer with out using his own strength to fund raise 2) A scooter so he has his own transport 3) A ring to ask me to marry him. 4) a fully paid honeymoon. Within one week of his arrival he gets word that an anonymous supporter believes in him and wants to support him completely through the next 6 months! Three months in he is offered a beautiful family heirloom; a ring he will give me when he asks me to be his wife. 12 months in, after a wedding, and an all expense paid, 10 day Mexican resort honeymoon his new brother in law buys him the exact scooter he has been eyeing for a year. Prayer is the stone that starts the ripples.

Currently John and I are moving into our first unfurnished home, one with more space to host visitors, and friends. Our rent cost has doubled, our support hasn’t yet; but He gives peace. We strategically budget our wedding gift money; we buy a new mattress, we buy tables, a dresser; we borrow a fridge, a desk.  search for steals and  we find them. With no money left we pray for a couch, a microwave and rent. We move. As my brothers tour the sites and nervously enter the township with us, their worldview is challenged, they rebuild a leaky shack roof, they meet our dear friends, they almost get trapped by a riot & fire in Khayelitsa.  My big brother declares that he came here knowing he wanted to pay our rent for a whole year. We are blown away and yet not at all surprised that God has provided. We are given a brand new couch and a microwave in the same week as the scooter. I prayed for Radiant Village; and in turn God set up our own home.

The oral surgeon and his wife connect with my engaged friend and her fiance who are trusting God for wedding funds. Completely unsolicited they tell them they want to help with the bride price and wedding costs. They also are moved  to sponsor a new baby safe site in Masi. But the Americans are perhaps more moved than the Africans. The small waves work their way out.  These are ripples of provision, which become waves of praise. We wait and listen for the gently rising and falling sound of hope that will come from a place like Radiant Village, that particular feeling that starts in God’s heart and ripples through others.