Thursday, September 19, 2013

Snake bite, with permission of Emma

Matthew 17:20 Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

This is a verse that I have gone back to many times, because when I think about my faith, how much I can doubt and fret I can certainly say it resembles more of a mustard seed than anything big or grand. However, I have seen so many times that God can take my tiny little seed of faith that I plant when I am moving out on faith, and by the time I turn back around it has turned into a mountain that God has shifted...

Meet Emma. 

Emma in the homes now
Emma is rambunctious and hilarious and lives his life with his heart on his sleeve. 

Emma loves everyone and will go into a depression if he sees you upset, pouring all of his energy into making you smile once again.

Emma is precious to me. 

I have told him several times, if in my entire life the only thing that I ever did was be able to be used by God to take him off of the street that my life would have been worth it. I would have lived a life that mattered. 

Let me go back a little bit, so you can meet Emma when I first did several years ago on the street... 

Emma on the streets

Emma was tiny, and adorable and grabbed my entire heart when he lived on the street. He had been through so much in his life, including watching as his father died. Yet as hard as his life was on the streets, he still had the ability to smile and to bring joy to others around him. At that time, I didn't have a children's home yet and so there wasn't much I could do about the fact that he was on the street other than love him and encourage him and assure him how very much God loved him (which of course is no small thing). 

One Sunday morning I came to church to find Emma deathly ill. I had spent a lot of time around street children and seen all kinds of sicknesses and injuries and the moment I was with him, I knew in my heart that he was going to die (as I later found out, he knew too). 

He was so sick he could not sit up, drink, eat or do anything. I sat there with his head in my lap and prayed and prayed for him. We took him to a hospital where he was checked and x-rayed and a doctor confirmed that he had severe pneumonia and that his lungs were shockingly full of fluid, the doctor told us another night on the streets would have killed him. 

A group of Ugandan men that we were ministering with said that Emma could stay with them as he recovered and took his medicine. I promised to Emma that he would never, ever again return to the streets. 

In the few weeks that Emma was getting better, God miraculously made a way for us to start our home. Emma got better and came home immediately into our family. 

Emma and I a few months after he came into the home
 We have had such a fun time with Emma who of course always keeps you on your toes since he loves joking and moving around, is a little accident prone and loves any creature that moves. 

Several times in his past, God has spared Emma's life. 
God has big plans for this child. 

Very recently, I was going through a hard time. Somethings were going on and it felt like we were being crushed by the bad in the world, that the more we fought injustice, the more the unjust wanted to fight us. It was in the evening at the children's home and I had been crying over it and praying with some other leaders when I walked over towards the kitchen. I was talking to the nurse when suddenly Emma ran up and collapsed at our feet. 

He was hysterical and saying that he had just been bitten by a snake on his leg and that it hurt really really bad.

We recently had had a staff training on what to do if there is a snakebite (thanks nurse Amy!) which essentially said to immediately clean and wrap above the wound away from the heart, keep the child as calm/still as possible and rush to a hospital for anti-venom. 

The moment Emma told us, Mama Dan rushed out of the kitchen and gave us her wrapper (kind of like an "African apron") to loosely tie around his calf above the bite. I shouted to David who *just so happened* to be standing with the van keys and the van nearby who ran into the van turned it on. 

Mama Dan, the nurse Jennifer, the nearest child, Bob and I picked up Emma and rushed him into the van. Now, of all children in our homes, we have three main "guardians". Steady and soft-hearted boys who always take care of everyone around them. Bob is one of these guardians.


It was dusk and we were in the village but David floored it to the closest hospital/clinic. Bob, the nurse and I held onto Emma and began praying like crazy, all of us were crying. 
I kept telling God, "God you cannot take this child away from me! You have saved his life so many times before, please I beg you to do it again! Take me instead but not Emma... not Emma!"

We had been holding Emma in a laying position (me from the seat behind and Bob and the nurse from both sides of him on the first row). Emma began panicking again because of the pain (which is bad because it increases the heart rate and flow of poison) and so the nurse scooped him up into her arms like a baby to try and calm him. Sweet-hearted Bob, immediately cuddled him from the other side to calm him down, I kept my hand on his head and continued to plead for his life. 

About 30 seconds after David had begun driving (and remember we are in the middle of a village with no electricity and a crazy dirt road) something happened to the van.  

It pretty much sounded like the van was going to explode as a screeching metal sound filled the van and the night around us. We weren't sure what it was but knew that we had no time to stop and investigate, even if the car was completely ruined. The sound however filled the night and warned people on the road to jump out of the way far before we reached them. When we reached the main road their was construction going on and so David just...went around and over it. We reached the hospital, jumped out and carried Emma inside. 

The doctor was there and immediately gave him anti-venom. 

Almost immediately Emma was feeling no pain whatsoever. 

We looked for the bite on his foot and we could find nothing. 


God had miraculously (and kind of dramatically) once again saved the life of Emma!

In the van on the way back, God whispered in my heart, "See I am in control. Satan has no control over this ministry or over the lives of these boys. Just as I have fought for Emma's life I will continue to fight for you as you stand against injustice. Do not fear for I am your God..."

I thought back over everything that had happened. 

How Emma had collapsed at the feet of the nurse, as the van was next to us, that of all the kids it was Bob who had been nearby, how the metal (which ended up being just an unimportant piece of metal on the back of the van) had fallen down to clear the road for us, how the doctor had been in, and how Emma had instantly recovered)

God had been in control every single step of the way.

Our God is so much bigger than anything else that can come up against us in this world and this was a big reminder.

Maybe I should introduce him again... Meet Emma, the boy who I am sure, God has set aside to one day change the world!


  1. OH BLESS HIS HEART!!! First, PRAISE GOD that he is healthy and alive! I think Emma steals everyone's heart! I know he has stolen mine! We continue to pray for him every day and have his pictures around the house and in our car so that every time we see his sweet smile, we are reminded to pray for him and of course all the other boys in the different homes. And we can't forget all the sweet, loving, givingeverythingtheyhave staff! We love you guys! Keep up the GOOD work and know that there are so many praying for you and your ministry! God Bless, Candace Muhlenkamp :)

  2. Am trying to find how to make a donation to API...please direct me!
    Lisa Mitchell (Sarah Hoxworth's mom)