The Gift of Life
Posted: on January 25, 2013
MAF Pilot Dennis Bergstrazer reports:
“Soon after Christmas, I saw another type of gift that had been given, a gift of life to a little jungle girl, who normally would have died had it not been for someone who interceded. A year ago I had flown a team of Indonesian pastors into a village called Pogapa, a forty minute flight over the mountain range from where we live in Timika. A few months before a little girl had been born in an isolated village near there, a four hour hike from Pogapa,
“Tragically, when the helping ladies pushed out what they thought would be the placenta, it turned out to be a stillborn twin and the mom died within the hour. The father, Aita Selagani the Village Chief, had two other wives but they refused to nurture the new born baby thinking they would only have enough milk to breastfeed their own babies. The new baby girl’s health deteriorated as her weight kept dropping eventually down to about 3 pounds. With scabies and puss filled boils all over her body her father finally brought her to the church. There he met Pastor R Sumlang and confessed how the extended family had just met and decided to dump her in Kemabu River to put her out of misery, an all too familiar story of how those in desperate health and dying are taken care of. By this time she had suffered severe malnutrition and was beyond the point where most babies could have survived.
“It just happened to be the same time that I had flown the ministry team from a church in Jakarta to Pogapa. They heard about the dying baby and one of the couples, Ramon and his wife Shandy, offered to take her back to Jakarta and nurse her back to health. They provided the best medical care available in the country; the best formula money could buy, lavished her with love, and called her Deborah, the name her biological father gave her at birth. It was an uphill battle for Deborah and her new foster parents, who already had a family of three foster children as well as two of their own. In spite of proper nutrition and extra care she only weighted 4 ½ pounds (2.25kg) after five months. Her boils and scabies seemed incessant, but eventually the doses of scabicide, ointment and formulas helped. She was a bit slow in her milestones like sitting, crawling, standing, and she barely started walking after her second birthday, 22 October 2012.
“Her foster parents said, ‘Despite slow progress and her small size, we’re glad to see a normal smile, giggles and a playful personality in Deborah. It’s going to be sometime until she can function as a normal child. Some functions may not even fully develop due to traumatic first year growth, but we pray with her everyday so she won’t miss out in discovering the meaning of life and how Jesus died for her to provide the wonderful plan of salvation.’
“When I flew two year-old Deborah back to Pogapa, she weighed a meager 18 pounds (9kg). But, in spite of her small size, Deborah is now vibrant and full of life. She is quite aware of her surroundings, and wasn’t all that impressed with my landing at Pogapa, of course I blame that on the roughness of the airstrip.
“It would seem that the Lord brought together circumstances and worked in people’s hearts in such a way that helped Deborah survive. Does He have a plan for her life, perhaps as significant as the Deborah we know from the Book of Judges? Or perhaps the Lord has a work to accomplish in the lives of those who are touched by Deborah. But, as we think of gift giving this year, let’s think about gifts that can change lives. They may cost us more than money; like time, inconvenience, sleepless nights, and heartache, but the payback is beyond measure!”