South Africa Chronicles 2014, Part 1:
A Bunch of Baby-Haters
December 10, 2013 A.D.
Elsje and I are now in South Africa for a few week stint of family time, ministry, writing projects, and rejuvenation. It has been quite a year, and so this visit with Elsjeâ€™s family will be a much needed opportunity to reflect on all that God has done, and seek all that God has in store. We hope to put a good dent in writing our love story; and MarlÃ©â€™s Ouma and Oupa (Grandma and Grandpa) are eating up all this time with their grand-baby!
We will hopefully be posting several â€œco-postsâ€ in the coming weeks, that will chronicle our time here. Also, I will soon have a clearer idea of my preaching schedule while Iâ€™m here, and I will post a list of dates and times. Prayer would be much appreciated! Anyway, as we traversed the globe with a 4 month old, we had several situations that precipitated several discussions that will now result in several observations on how we as a generation have become a bunch of baby-haters! I will start, Elsje will share a few of her observations, then Iâ€™ll wrap it all up; in so doing, we ought to have a wonderful time!
First, to set the scene, MarlÃ© really did fantastic. She slept long and well, cried minimally and was pretty cute the whole way. Elsje and I got so many giggles out of how she responded to the whole adventure of 30+ hours of nonstop travel! As we boarded the flight from JFK to Johannesburg, we ended up sitting right across the aisle from another family that had a three year old and a seven month old. As the passengers dutifully underwent the painful and oft-awkward process of loading the plane (complete with that one person whose bag is ten times too big for the overhead compartment and yet still attempts to shove it in all while the rest of us wait for them), there were two ladiesâ€“one right after the otherâ€“that made the rather unnecessary observation, in rather unnecessarily loud voices, that their luck was unfortunate enough to reward them with not one, but two, infants. In response to their loud complaints, their fellow passengers murmured a grunt of agreed annoyance. Now that the stage is set, here are some of our observations of why this general annoyance towards the pint-sized is so widespread, and sadly, well-received and accepted.
Elsje: We understand, no one enjoys 14 hour flights, and Iâ€™m sure that a screaming baby sure doesnâ€™t help make it any easier. The disapproving frowns aimed at the mother, trying to comfort and quiet a screaming baby, doesnâ€™t exactly help soothe the whole situation. The general attitude towards babies on planes is a very good indicator of the attitude towards babies in general. They are unwelcome. They are an annoyance and hindrance to our comfort and peace.
Before having children I admit that I mightâ€™ve felt that slight discomfort upon the sight of a baby on a plane. But now, my perspective has changed quite significantly. I now know what all goes into planning, preparing and packing for an international trip. I am now familiar with the slight angst and quiet prayers that accompany parents as they embark on that kind of journey. And what would those 14 hours on the plane have looked like if people could see the sacrifice the parents are making in choosing to lovingly raise that little one, instead of only focusing on the inconvenience that little baby is causing everyone? Letâ€™s think for a moment what this world could be if everybody championed those who choose to lay down their lives to care for and serve weak and vulnerable babies.
Something that seems entirely foolish to the majority of the modern world, is actually one of the things God has chosen to preach the Gospel message. And this world hates it: the message and the means. The message being the Gospel, the means being the parable of a godly father and mother. Why do they hate both of these things? Because embracing the Gospel means dying to yourself and the end of self-centered indulgence, and the embrace of a little babyâ€™s parents is a neon sign pointing to the same thing.
Ben: Towards the end of the flight, one of the women who had made her aversion to babies so well known, and also sat directly behind me, began discussing politics with the guy next to her. As I was listening to their liberal ideals of Single-payer healthcare systems, the racism of Republicans, the idiocy of Ted Cruz, I was beginning to get a little itch to hop into the ring and take them on. However, when they began discussing abortion, I just about popped a blood vessel!
This woman, when asked what her position on abortion was, responded without a second thought, â€œOh, Iâ€™m completely for it!â€ Really? The whole liberal agenda is based upon the false premise of universal tolerance. But when it comes to tolerating the inconvenience of an innocent child, they are staunchly, unflinchingly supportive of the wholesale slaughter of these lives. The tolerance crowd is tolerant of everything but those with whom they disagree or who rattle their utopian chains.
I happily tolerated her while she stretched her legs out above my head, even though it was sort of awkward when I looked up and saw her feet resting on the top of my chair, right above my head. Ironically, she likely disturbed my sleep more than my baby did hers, because she seemed to be kicking the back of my chair quite a bit! I recently heard a preacher say, â€œI want all the mothers in the room to never be insecure when their baby starts screaming. When I hear those cries, I thank God that that mother chose to give her child life, instead of offering it up to Molech, the god of convenience.â€ Oh, how I long to see this generation awakened to the glory of each eternal spark known as a human being. Whether they be the aged, or freshly conceived, these lives are ordained and contrived of God to bring glory to His name.
Our adventure here in South Africa has just begun. However, Elsje and I are freshly sobered by a few things. First, we are freshly reminded that this generation views babies as disposable. Second, we heard a statistic that 75% of girls in SA get pregnant before they graduate high school, and thus, the opportunities we have been given to share a grander and God-glorifying view of sexuality is desperately needed. Third, we are eternally grateful that God has entrusted little MarlÃ© unto us, and I cannot express how joyous I was to see how the prayers we prayed while she was still in the womb, and the prayerful investments we have made over the last 4.5 months truly are worth it. Iâ€™ll let Elsje have the final word here.
Elsje: Benâ€™s words to the liberal pro-choice woman behind us as we were disembarking the plane sum up the need of the hour.
He calmly, yet firmly stated that the thing that will solve our problems and injustices is a return of godly fathers. Men thatÂ are men, are courageously take their stand for the weak, dying and vulnerable. That is as much to say that we need God the Father being showcased through godly fathers. As Malachi 4:6 says: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Indeed, the Father we need to return to is a heavenly, holy and gentle Father; if we, as a generation refuse to return, we will find the cursed thorns of injustices, poverty, sickness, disease and sin infesting the ground like a bramble bush.