October Update: Siyathemba
It’s been a busy couple of months for our family, and we’ve been privileged to see God prove so faithful yet again on so many levels!
After meeting with the Christian nurses two months ago, we are seeing nurses take patients aside and counsel them, sharing Jesus and the freedom that obeying Him brings, without necessarily referring them to us. This really is the place that we have been wanting to reach – a ministry where our other Christian colleagues are excited to share with patients instead of always having the load fall on us alone, which poses an obvious problem when we are on leave or not available for whatever reason. So, we are continuing to invest time into the Christian nurses to continue strengthening this network of support. We’ve identified one nurse, in particular, who we’d like to really equip to maybe take over the ‘Ingwavuma Siyathemba’ one day when we leave. She’s based in OPD which is the ideal spot to pick up abortion requests, so we’re excited to get to know her and involve her more.
We were so excited to welcome a little girl whose life was once threatened by the request for an abortion. She was born 3 weeks ago to a rather nervous yet ecstatic young mum. Her mum is currently studying a course in computers and is consequently unable to be with the baby 24/7 (pretty much the reason for her wanting the abortion as well as not being able to keep a baby at the place where she was previously living). Siyathemba is helping her to finance a nanny for the baby whilst she is studying during the day, as well as helping out with accommodation expenses, as the little house which we are hoping to use at some point is still undergoing renovation. She named the baby the Zulu equivalent of “has been saved”.
As far as the formalisation of the Siyathemba trust goes, we seem to be very nearly there, as we just have a few little formalities to wrap up. Once we have the organisation number and papers, we will be able to open a bank account which will make donations a whole lot easier.
We’ve also been really challenged to rise to the call. Up until now, our encounters with girls wanting abortions have been mostly when we are the doctors consulting patients in out patients department (OPD). There has been the odd occasion when we’ve stumbled upon a patient outside of OPD and had the opportunity to minister to them. Most doctors find abortion counselling quite challenging and usually don’t look forward to it. In fact, I think if most of us were to be honest with ourselves, we’d admit that at some time or another, we’ve kind of had a one-sided “agreement” with God. Something like, after hearing via the grapevine that there is a patient with a TOP request sitting in the queue, daunted by the potentially awkward task ahead that you’d rather not be the unlucky doctor that gets to sort it out, you bargain with God, “God, if you want me to talk to her, then make it clear by working the queue such that she walks into my cubicle.” There are two lives at stake here; of course God wants me to share the truth of His love with her! We’ve been challenged to take the “bull by the horns”; if we hear that there is a patient, to make a point to go and find that patient and rather not risk the chance that she may not end up in our cubicle! One way of helping the situation, has been by informing the nurses that we would be very willing to see any patient requesting a TOP referral, so to send such a patient directly to us even if we are not in OPD at the time. This is not 100% secure and we do see that patients are referred for TOPs by names that appear in our “bus transport” book that drops patients off at various referral centres every day. Burd has also decided to page through the bus book on the nights that he is on call (Bee doesn’t do calls) and if there is a TOP patient that is booked to catch the bus, to try and actively look for her to take a moment to tell her that she is loved and that Jesus has better plans for her. We hope to challenge our other Christian colleagues to not pretend to be “pro life” and then avoid an interaction with a TOP patient at all costs, but rather “be bold and courageous” and yet gentle and kind – a tough combination!
A few testimonies of miraculous provision:
We had a R9000 balance left for our start up costs, and wondered where exactly we’d source the money, again God provided us with exactly R9000 to cover the outstanding costs! We used to think that these kind of miracles only happened to pastors of big churches! ;) Actually another word on this point...a couple of months ago, Bee was chatting to God and mentioned that would be nice once and a while to see miraculous provision for Siyathemba as a sign that we’re still on the right track. It’s just that so often, at the last minute when we’ve tried to help people, it has seemed as if our friends and family have come to the party to help meet whatever need we faced. We don’t doubt that God was using these people to provide, but Bee just thought that it really would be nice to have an absolute stranger who would just “drop out of the sky” and meet a need or provide for something that only God could have mentioned to that person. Two weeks after that little prayer/thought, outpatients department called us and said that there was someone who wanted to meet us in OPD. Now, Ingwavuma is not exactly the centre of a metropolis, in fact it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere; not the kind of place you just stumble into...if you do, you’re probably very lost! Almost nervously, we investigated further, and were greeted by a very sweet missionary whose only possessions in life were 2 back packs of goods; one large and one rather small. He mentioned that he had met Bee’s mom in the Drakensberg and she had mentioned that she had a daughter in Ingwavuma - literally a short conversation between strangers. He then explained that God told him to come and give the big back pack to us. It was filled with clothes, a brand new camera and a bunch of other things. Why on earth would he choose to give us, who have so much more materially than him, more than half of his earthly possessions? I mean, he just “dropped out of the sky on us”. We then realised that God had sent him to show us that He is God, He would provide for us however and whenever He pleased. This gentle soul found our relaying of Bee’s little prayed quite amusing and left giving us a fair amount of his only cash for Siyathemba. We were seriously humbled by this encounter.
There are some other exciting offers of baby clothes that we may get to give to the new babies and we’ve received emails of encouragement from absolute strangers, so God has been faithful to encourage us when we’ve felt very alone in the middle of the bush.
People always ask what they should pray for us about. Firstly, for the women that we speak to – that God would really reveal Himself to them and be their Comforter when they feel particularly alone. Secondly, that God would continue to sustain us for as long as we are in Ingwavuma, as it’s not an easy life, being far away from the conveniences of day to day living, but we’re pretty sure this is where we need to be for now anyway.
Love Bee and Burd
Summary for your information:
Name of hospital: SiyathembaAddress for donations:
Postal: Graeme and Bianca Birdsey PO BOX 416 Ingwavuma 3968.
Street: House 132, Mosvold Hospital, Main Road, Ingwavuma
Name of staff liaison person who will receive donations and distribute: Graeme and Bianca Birdsey MBChB (UCT)
Telephone number of staff liaison person: 0833686080 or 0355910122
Needs: Blankets, clothes and soft toys for newborn babies
General: In a nut shell, we are helping to support young women with basic needs who would have otherwise aborted their pregnancy as a result of being overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task to care for their unborn child. These needs are diverse, and we try here and there to help as we feel led. One thing we do for all is try to give each new baby a generous hamper of baby clothes to start him/her off. I've been collecting as much as I can, but generally run short as each little baby makes quite a dent in a bunch of things that has taken months to collect. If you are able to help in any way or would like any more information, please don't hesitate to contact me! :)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com