I was a young twenty-something single woman working on a team in the Northern Region of Ghana doing literacy work among the Dagomba. It was the summer of 1996. Our military-looking Land Rover was bouncing along the dusty ‘washboard’ road on our way to the celebration of a newly-translated Bible in the beautiful Volta Region, a few days journey away. Our travel group consisted of a Dutch lady (our team leader), a Dagomba woman named Maria (not her real name), three Dagomba men, and me.
As we drove along that day, a lively discussion began between our Dagomba teammates. Two years earlier a war had broken out between their ethnic group and the neighboring Konkomba people. Emotions still ran high as they recalled the violence and destruction that had taken place between the two tribes. We were driving through Konkomba territory at this time, the lone vehicle on the road. Maria, a sister in Christ, passionately revealed that if a Konkomba ever came near her home, she would refuse to welcome them. She just could not forgive what had happened.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, we saw ahead of us an elderly Konkomba man run out onto the dirt road and begin flagging down our Land Rover. We stopped. He started talking to the men on our team but there was limited understanding as their languages were different. After some gesturing and sign language, he brought out a young pregnant girl. From what we gathered, she was due to deliver any moment and he wanted us to drive her to the nearest clinic several miles down the road.
I was not quite sure what a visit to the clinic would do for her, as village clinics were almost always only a simple building structure with little to no equipment and perhaps not even any trained medical staff on site. However we agreed to take her with us. We helped her climb into the Land Rover, positioning her in the front seat between our team leader who was driving and me. And off we went … or I should say, off we bounced! The rugged corrugated dirt road suddenly felt extra bumpy as I sat next to this young pregnant Konkomba girl who was so obviously uncomfortable.
We had not gone very far before our team leader looked at me and said, “She’s not going to make it. We need to stop.” We pulled to the side of the road and helped our pregnant passenger find a place to rest in the dirt. On the other side of the road the three Dagomba men traveling with us were discussing what they could do. They managed to find a razor blade and some cloth rags to contribute. Then they took off in the Land Rover hoping to find the nearest village to ask for water.
On the ladies’ side of the road, we positioned ourselves to assist in the delivery. Maria was the only experienced member of our little trio having had her first-born son a few years previously. She became the unexpected expert of child delivery that day. I sat behind our young Konkomba mother bracing her body against mine, wiping her forehead, and whispering words of encouragement that she could not understand into her ears.
She was pushing hard at this time. Then something happened that caused us all to take in a deep breath. One of the baby’s feet made its appearance and then disappeared. A breech baby! We didn’t know what else to do but pray. It seemed like an eternity before her next big push, though I am sure it was only a few moments. Then finally, with a deep breath and a huge push, a little baby girl slipped out, two-feet first this time, into Maria’s hands.
Not moments later, the Land Rover pulled up and two village women appeared with a basin of water to take over the cleanup. After a short rest, the new young mother indicated that she was ready to return home, so we climbed into the Land Rover, and took her back to her village … just like that it was all over!
It was only later in the day as we continued on our journey that we all contemplated the significance of this little baby girl’s birth in the lives of our Dagomba companions. In particular, in the life of our friend Maria who had earlier vowed never to welcome a Konkomba if they were to ever set foot near her home.
How tender of the Father to display His love for all peoples to a jeep full of travelers and an expectant new mother by using the birth of a baby to unite a handful of men and women whose tribes had been at war. Such a miracle!
How kind of Him to reach down onto that lonely dirt road and see a daughter of His struggling to accept and love the enemy, and then to place the gift of a new life, the enemy’s newest member, into her hands. Such grace!
I am reminded of another baby born long ago. Born to bring peace, hope and joy to a world full of enemies … born to reconcile. God Himself set foot in our home, as a humble baby, and made Himself known to us! Such love!
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