Last Christmas, Rosie McCorkell experienced a poignant, real-life illustration of “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son…” (John 3:16a)
When we offer our lives to God so that we can be Jesus’ hands and feet to those around us, we sometimes face unexpected situations with big blessings. I learned this anew as we approached the annual challenge of another Christmas spent deep in the Mozambique bush, far from home. I was home alone when our language teacher came running to tell me that a young expectant mother, named Esnath, was calling for me. Her waters had broken and there was no one to help her. She came to us because she and her husband, who are believers, consider us their family. After searching, we finally found a local lady with some experience of delivering a child, but then she asked me if I could “catch” the baby. Jesus wanted to use my hands as his way of welcoming this baby into the world! My only knowledge of childbirth was bearing my own children many years ago, and here we were with no hospital, no pain relief, no doctor or nurse, no midwife and no vehicle in sight. I prayed desperately to the one who knows everything, asking for his help.
“As the baby opened his little eyes to the stars, I wept as I was reminded of the miracle of new birth and how our Saviour arrived in such lowly circumstances, leaving the glory of heaven to bring all of us hope.”
I stayed with Esnath through her labour. It was pitch dark before her baby boy arrived, in the dirt under a mango tree, as there was nowhere else, not even a stable, nearby. He was born under the stars on a reed mat and a borrowed rag, with my blue towel being the only cloth to wrap him in. As the baby opened his little eyes to the stars, I wept as I was reminded of the miracle of new birth and how our Saviour arrived in such lowly circumstances, leaving the glory of heaven to bring all of us hope. At Jesus’ birth, there was no bustling maternity ward and nobody but Joseph to deliver him, just a dirty, smelly stable filled with animals and the light from the stars in the night sky. Did anyone even notice the event apart from the shepherds and wise men? Who was there to ask, “Are you OK, Mary?” or “Do you need any help?” I felt the sheer joy and privilege of being there by Esnath’s side. My husband Walter was there by the time the baby arrived, and together we praised God for his safe delivery. His parents named him Walter, in my husband’s honour. This gift to us, in a place where there is nothing to give, reminded us of Jesus’ birth. He came in the same shape of a perfect little miracle as baby Walter. Wherever we are, Jesus can touch us with the gift of life, and this reminds us, as missionaries, of what we are all about. Now God gives us the privilege of working alongside him to demonstrate Jesus’ love to all we meet.