Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.
Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey
If you understand that we are only passengers through this land called earth and headed to a destination that is really our home, then you can grapple with suffering and hardship and surrender to the greater plan of the Master. Oh, I understand that some of you might say, that is a fairy tale mentality, Deedra. With the utmost kindness, I would refute, “When have you ever known me to have my head in the clouds?”
I have suffered enough to know that God is real. He was with me as an abused child. He was alongside me as a spiritually-manipulated teen. He was beside me through all my miscarriages as I longed to be a mother. The list could go on, but I think you get the point. God is not a mystical character in the sky. He is a loving and ever-patient Father who walks with us and waits for us to recognize He has been there the whole time.
Make no mistake-God was with Tobias at the beginning and He was with Tobias at the end. Tobias’ life has a purpose far beyond what any of us can imagine. It only makes sense in reverse. Some of you may understand this better in practical terms: Hindsight is 20/20. Just imagine if you could add the spiritual world to that! Your vision would be perfect!
Tobias Memorial Service
My family honored my life. Do you get the gravity of that? I had a family! A family who loved me, and not because I was perfect, not because I was cute (but, c’mon, did you see my cheeks?), not because my rescue in the bush was extraordinary. They loved me because I was created in the image of God. All of us are a reflection of Him, the Creator of the universe, whether we recognize it or not. Some of us just let the world and all it entails take over the image that was stamped on our heart. It was a seal that was intended to never be broken.
I am not a doll. I am a person. I was created in the image of God. I am and will always be a child of God.
The flight from Nairobi to London was longer than usual. I can never sleep on the flights, and that night was no different. All I could do is pray. Pray for Tobias to be healed. Pray for Phyllis and Dorothy to know that they are competent as our medical personnel. Pray for Mama Irene as she transported Toby to the nearest facility. Pray for my ministry partner, Fred, as we had just had a full week of ministry and had a list that still needed conquered.
As soon as the plane landed at Heathrow, I didn’t wait for the announcement; I turned on my phone with great expectation for a good report. This is what I read:
My heart sunk in my chest. The ‘bush baby’ who had defied so many odds couldn’t defeat malaria. MALARIA! I was angry that this disease is still ravaging lives across the world. I was disappointed that I didn’t pray for him at the clinic when he arrived with the others. I took for granted that he would beat it just like the others. I took for granted life! I was concerned for those traveling with me who had bonded with him during our trip. Yet, I was confident in a God that knows all and sees all. The Sovereign God whom I serve.
Since Tobias was an orphan and under our care, an autopsy needed to be done. It was confirmed that he passed away from malaria complications. The first death of child under Harvest of Hope Africa’s care. Tobias was a first! The first baby we rescued in the bush-literally! The first baby to appear so strong on the outside yet weak on the inside. The first baby for DSM’s blog. There has to be a reason for that. I never do anything without the Spirit’s prompting. The Tobias blog was started by the Holy Spirit’s nudging, who knew that I would be struggling to write as the tears ran down my face.
Again, I say to you, my God is Sovereign. Faith really does make THE difference!
But, before I get to that, let me tell you about “the girls” coming back to visit Under His Wings Babies Home. This time they came later so they could play with the primary children after school. Everyone was so happy!
I wasn’t feeling well so I went to Mount Hope Medical Clinic, a part of Harvest of Hope Africa. Our medical director, Phyllis, tested me for malaria. I, along with baby Angel and a few others, tested positive. Not the news we were hoping for even though most of my sick friends seem to be feeling better.
I am just having such a hard time breathing. I heard Angel and the others coughing all night but I can’t seem to do even that.
It is 11pm on Thursday, March 30th. Just a week after our last encounter. I am feeling so much worse. Phyllis and Dorothy are working hard to keep me comfortable and hydrated. Mama Deedra is informed right before she takes off back to America. I am being transported to the nearest hospital.
We finally met! This is Chelci, a missions-hearted friend, who named me. She calls me “Toe-by-is” but everyone in Kenya says, “Tob-e-us”. Tomato, tomaato! She was everything I imagined–caring, kind, and comfortable. I cuddled with her for hours!
Chelci, Annie, and Kimberly came with Mama Deedra this time. They brought toys for the bigger kids at Under His Wings Babies Home. And, guess what? They didn’t just give them to us; they stayed and played with everyone. It was a special visit even though some of my friends are sick with malaria. It is the rainy season, and those of us who haven’t developed an immunity often get sick. In fact, Rachel hasn’t gone to school all week. But, she seemed to feel lots better when our guests arrived. I think she was modeling the new clothes Chelci brought.
I hope they come back to visit before they go home!
Moving from the projects to a small town was drastic. I had to morph into country mouse while city mouse was still very alive within me. The only way I could make this happen was through one constant: school. It had become my sanctuary and not only because of the free breakfast and lunch! It was the place I could be a kid like everyone else. In my elementary years, it was about rest and approval. In my junior high years, the approval intensified to achievement. While I have had to die to that unhealthy need in my adult life, it formed relationships with teachers and created mentors that I appreciate still today. Aside from that, it made me eager to learn.
Growing up without diversity bothered me. Fully aware that my mother looked different than everyone else and not being able to forget my experiences from the inner city, American history became personal for me. This was magnified by the excellent teaching of my 8th grade history teacher, Dan Wells. From that class, I learned many Americans realized slavery was not just a system of labor and began to debate whether or not it was morally right. In fact, the issue of slavery would be a political undercurrent decades before the Civil War and not completely settled for many years after. But, the part of history that stuck with me that year and forevermore was the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. The Constitution mandated that slaves who fled to free states must be returned to their owners. In short, the Fugitive Slave Act kidnapped free blacks and pressured Northern citizens to serve as slave catchers. Citizens taking the law into their own hands.
Another effect of the Fugitive Act was the strong antislavery reaction. Those who could say slavery was wrong from a distance were now faced with the decision of participating. What would they do? Would the use their rights as citizens to petition the national government for overstepping the limits of the constitution? Would they present theological arguments? Would they use whatever voice they had to change the injustice?
The Fugitive Slave Act provoked one woman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, to draw attention to slavery by writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin.