"Women told me how they expected to be raped. Not once but many times. The women I met, spoke of gang rapes, three or four times. Sometimes it was 'only' two soldiers, more often gangs of men,10, 20, over and over again."
"Many had conceived children and the girl children, some just babies only a few months old, were being raped as well."
"Rape has now become generational."
"In Panzi hospital, Bukavu, Dr. Mukwege, a general surgeon continues to work tirelessly to repair these damaged women. I met one of his patients. She was a cheerful little girl, it was impossible not to be drawn to her smile. The nurse saw me playing with her said: 'You know she's HIV-positive.' She was just three years old. Her twin sister had been killed when she and her mother had been raped. This little girl had been conceived from rape."
These are just a few quotes from this article written by Fiona Lloyd-Davies on CNN.com, as she documents her experience in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the "rape capital of the world" and the country from which we are adopting. As I sit here writing this in my comfortable bed with my 4-month-old napping peacefully in the room next to me as I wait to appease him the moment he awakes with hunger cries; and with my husband who is sipping coffee next to me as he leisure reads on this most enjoyable week of his vacation, it requires great effort to imagine these scenes described above. Children of rape are now being raped. Right now. Women are afraid to walk outside of their doors to find food, because wicked rapists are on the prowl in the fields where their food lies. Right now. Accompanied by every decision to eat is the disturbing risk of brutal sexual assault. And the precious babies that they have conceived under such unimaginable circumstances are... being raped...
Admittedly, a numbness encompasses me as I write that. Maybe it's because I do not want to imagine or believe that this is actually happening to people. Maybe it's because I feel so helpless when the problem seems so immense. It all seems so unfamiliar.
What is familiar to us right now? Grace upon grace upon grace. Though Paul and I are sinful wretches without the love of Christ sustaining us, our imperfect marriage overflows with God's grace. He has blessed us with a happy baby who has everything he needs (and wants- thanks to his grandparents, aunts, and uncles!). What was Luke's first Thanksgiving holiday like last week? Well, on the car ride to West Virginia, a proud aunt sat next to him and hovered his favorite toys in front of his face, as her heart filled with each smile Luke expressed. And upon our arrival, his mom and dad enjoyed the freedom of taking naps whenever we wanted, as 3 of Luke's aunts happily babysat and eagerly waited for Luke to wake from his naps so that they could hold him, kiss him, and tell him how loved he is. His 94-year-old great-grandmother lit up with smiles every time she saw him and found great delight reading a book to him. His grandfather volunteered to change his diaper and burp him. Attention was not lacking; loving Luke is contagious and easy.
When we go to church, Luke is constantly taken from my hands, because his surrogate uncles want some "time with the little man." My mom has already called "dibs on Luke" when we visit them over the Christmas holiday. My dad likes to stay updated on Luke's mental and physical development, as he frequently asks, "Is Luke grabbing his feet yet? Is he belly laughing yet?" And his two uncles have already showered him with presents. This boy is impossible not to love, and at only 4 months of age, he seems to realize how loved he is. And we, as his parents, feel so full right now. Our marriage strengthens as we share in our delight over our bundle of preciousness. Most importantly, our awareness of God's grace causes us to praise Him for being so kind to such undeserving individuals.
And this is why it takes great effort to imagine what these women are going through right now. I don't relate to their suffering, but as a Christian, I am called to pay attention to the needs of those suffering around me. No, Christians should not feel guilted into adoption. Christ came to take away our merited guilt so that we could receive the unmerited gift of freedom and righteousness before God. I do not feel guilty for having a wonderful husband, a happy baby, and a safe home. I do not feel guilty for the freedom I have to go to the grocery to purchase food, free of worry that I will get "gang raped." Instead, I am thankful to the Lord for his abundant kindness. And such thankfulness for my undeserved blessings causes me to want to share these blessings with those around me.
The orphanage from which we are adopting is on the opposite side of the Congo from where these scenes described above are occurring. But given that the Congo's size is less than 1/4 of that of the United States, the chance of our child(ren) being affected by this wickedness is not small. I don't know why these children are parentless, but the possibilities surrounding the cause of their present condition cause my stomach to turn. All I know is that I want to take these unloved children and bring them into the loving family in which I am blessed. I want to fill them up with the love that God intends for children to receive from their parents, and selfishly, I want to receive the natural delight that comes from seeing children understand how loved they are. And most importantly, I cherish the opportunity to see God adopt children into his eternal family through Christ, as they see how their parents have adopted them into their family. A new name. A new identity. A safe family.
We are number three on the list to receive a referral of a child, and we appreciate prayers for the Lord to increase our family however He wills.
|Daddy and Luke decorating the tree together!|