For three years I have been managing a transitional home for babies who are in need of temporary in-house care in Kenya. Many are abandoned in places like maternity wards, roadsides, schools, pit latrines, trash heaps, or at bus stops. Sometimes they are found before it’s too late and sometimes they aren’t. Others are rescued from abusive or neglectful environments; some taken immediately after birth from mothers who are deemed “unfit” due to mental illness, special needs, or histories of neglect. Some of our babies are offered for adoption by pregnant mothers who feel unable to parent at this time in their lives and choose to give their babies up to be raised by another local Kenyan family instead of aborting or abandoning.
I have so very much left to learn, but one thing I am beginning to learn is that it is dangerous to disconnect our babies from their God-ordained biological families. Oftentimes these families have done really bad things to really innocent children in order for our paths to cross. It is quite easy to say that the rescue of a child was ordained by God, in His goodness– He elevated their hungry screams so they could be heard from the roadside as people rushed to work in the morning. He stirred the hearts of neighbors who realized the burdened pregnant woman had delivered, but there was no baby to be found. He opened the nurse’s eyes to see that these bruises and burns might be more than just accidents, over and over again. The children are safe now, so the work is done, right?
But I don’t believe we can stop there. I think God wants us to go further and ask why did these children even find themselves in need rescue? They need rescue and love and care because the one who abandoned, abused, neglected them needs rescue and love and care. It is a disservice to the babies in our home to consider their mothers as a lost cause, too wounded for healing, or too far gone for Jesus to reach. Jesus is just as interested in rescuing the innocent, hours old baby wrapped in a plastic bag on the side of the road as He is interested in rescuing the desperate mother who left her there.
In our experiences, many of these young women who abandon their babies are never found, but a good portion of the ones who are located are teenagers or young women who have endured entire lifetimes of pain. Listening to a young woman share her story of how she found herself in this unfortunate position is a heartbreaking privilege. Oftentimes she doesn’t realize that she herself is a victim and I wish so deeply to have the time and energy and resources to pour into her as much as we pour into her child while they require our care. I wish to have a Love House to refer them to and be confident that they will be welcomed and loved and listened to and poured into for as long as they need. That is what the body of Christ is about – when we work together, we are so much stronger.
I can tell you that there is a great need for the work of Kutoa Project in Kenya (and every corner of the world, I think!) and I am counting down the days until I get to refer young girls who need love and healing in their direction. I see Kutoa Project as a ministry that is signing themselves up to participate in what Father Greg Boyle calls the “slow work of God.” Many avoid it because success is easier to quantify and congratulate with the quick fixes and easy remedies. It is harder and much messier to join people in their suffering, as Jesus directs us to, and commit to being with them as He does His work in their lives. I see Kutoa Project as a ministry that commits to walk alongside the hurting and be with them, first. To be with them and allow themselves to be vessels of God’s love as He does His work and has His way in them.