THE BABY WITHOUT SWADDLING CLOTHES

I was twenty years old. Going to college. Preaching for a small church in Texas on Sundays. I didn’t mind that the drive was over a hundred miles away. Another “preacher student” went with me. I would drop him off in a near-by town, and pick him up on the way home (he always urged me to preach short (?) sermons on Sunday evenings so he wouldn’t have to wait so long for his ride). We would visit on the way up, and listen to the Longine Symphony on the radio coming home. This Sunday began like any other, but it was going to turn into an educational experience. Following the morning worship, the elders said, “John, we think there is a lady who may have had a baby, and we want you to check on her this afternoon.” It was my first inkling that ministry might involve much more than preaching sermons. When I inquired if one of them might be able to go with me, I was quickly told that each of them already had plans for Sunday afternoon!!! (The elder with whom I was spending the day was in the rocker when I left, but had moved to the couch by the time I had returned).

Following directions carefully, I drove out of town about 10 miles and turned on a dirt road for about 200 yards. There wasn’t any house. I got out of the car wondering what I should do next. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a wisp of smoke rising out of a draw some 200 feet away — the only evidence of life anywhere around. Making my way carefully down through the brush, I finally saw a dugout. The new mother I had gone to see was living in a hole in the ground! No water, no electricity, no food — nothing! She was holding the unclothed baby in her arms while a naked two-year old stood close by her side. I was her first visitor since she had delivered her baby on Wednesday. There had been no doctor, no nurse, no midwife, no friend, and no medication— not even an aspirin. She had delivered the baby without assistance—save for the two-year old.

Many years have gone by since that Sunday afternoon, and the beginning of the education of a young preacher boy, but they haven’t stilled the questions: Where was the father? Why had no one helped? How did the church know about this young woman? Why did they wait for the “preacher” to come on Sunday? And why was no one willing to go with me on that visit???

People all around us are hurting. Should they be made to wait on the preacher? Who do you think should help?

– John Gipson, Little Rock, Arkansas

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