Saturday, July 24, 2010

Preparing for Baby's Arrival

Fatima was engaged to Ahmed the minute she was born. The families had agreed that when a baby girl would be born she would be given to him as his future wife. Fifteen years later she became his bride. They loved the simple village life. It was a daily chore of hers to go to the river and draw water. Neither Ahmed nor Fatima ever had a chance to go to school. After arriving in North America Fatima had great dreams of learning to read and get a job but an unexpected pregnancy interrupted her plans. She attended pregnancy classes with other newcomers and was given a list of items she would need for the new baby. The problem was she couldn’t read it well nor knew what some of the things were so she asked Ruth to take her to the store.

Ruth picked her up and off they went to the baby department of a large store. One thing she didn’t need to buy was baby blankets. Some kind hearted Christian women from a church had sewn many blankets and given them to Ruth for newcomers expecting babies. Suddenly in the store Ruth realized Fatima was overwhelmed and dazed. She didn’t know anything about checking sizes or weight for baby clothes or disposable diapers. Her reading skills were being severely tested. She didn’t seem attracted to sleepers. The prices of clothing and a stroller and bath tub weren’t registering. How would she get that big box of a stroller down from the top shelf? She picked up a bottle thinking all bottles were the same. When Ruth mentioned the one she picked up needed to have plastic bags put in it she looked confused. Seeing Fatima was attracted to a package of Winnie the Pooh baby vests Ruth explained to her that perhaps one of the vests might have a pig on it and that might not be viewed favorably by other Muslims. My goodness – even haram(forbidden) baby clothes. Everything was so much easier in the village! She handed Ruth ‘The List’ and asked if she had everything. It was a huge undertaking and was fun but Ruth was exhausted with needing to explain everything. Making so many decisions had overwhelmed Fatima.

Ruth went home with a new appreciation for ‘the simple life’. Maybe people who live a simple life have something to teach us, she thought. Somehow Fatima was able to cope quite well with a bar of soap, big cloth to carry the baby on her back, her own bed for the baby to sleep in nestled beside her and a built in pacifier. She could get along fine without a crib mobile, intercom set or automatic swinging chair. She already had given birth to three babies back in the village. But that was there - where there was no ‘List’. It suddenly made Ruth aware to make the story of Jesus simple for women like Fatima – not a list of doctrines or a lot of historical background and information. Not everyone can process a written Bible study guide or Alpha video series. The simple Bible story of Jesus still remains profoundly captivating and understandable for all people. Taking Fatima baby shopping that day opened Ruth's eyes to find ways to communicate the gospel in a relevant way to people like Fatima.