[Editor’s note: At the request of the folks from DrawnFromWater.org, I’ve removed all mentions of the country they are in and the tribes they are working with.]
I’ve been sitting here this morning trying to make sense of a world where something like this can happen:
The people of [a certain] tribe in rural [Africa] have a culture rich in tradition. However, the tribe lives in fear of evil spirits who they believe bring ill fortune to their villages. They use the word “Mingi” to describe persons they consider cursed or otherwise imperfect. Those deemed Mingi face severe consequences, as the [people] believe the presence of these children on their land curses the tribe. Their solution to this perceived threat is to drown Mingi children in the river. Last year, 7 percent of [the tribe’s] children were associated with Mingi, resulting in the deaths of 77 children. If the two other nearby tribes practice the Mingi tradition at the same rate as [this] tribe, then the [other] populations may have a combined 3,000 children whose lives are at risk.
I read that quote at DrawnFromWater.org. They are a ministry in Africa literally saving young children – toddlers and infants – from sacrificial drowning due to their tribes’ superstition. The video in my previous post illustrates their work there. I was sitting there reading all this, thinking about it, and I began to pray that God will help me to understand this and what I could or should do about it – if anything at all. As I prayed, God reminded me that I, too was drawn from water.
When I was just a little guy – maybe two or three – we were visiting my cousins house in Houston. My parents and my aunt and uncle were going to a wedding or something like that and we were staying there for a few days. My aunt and uncle had a pool and on the day of the wedding we all spent the day playing in the water, having a great time. As the day wore on, the time came for everyone to go inside so that the adults could get dressed and ready for the wedding. The baby sitter was on the way and all us kids were playing inside until she could get there.
I was the youngest of all the cousins and probably couldn’t really keep up with whatever games the bigger kids were playing. Regardless, somehow I ended up on my own looking through a plate glass window, into the backyard, into the pool, at the red ball that was floating there.
I had been playing with that ball in the pool and I really liked it. There was something special about that ball and I really wanted to play with it again. I knew I wasn’t supposed to go out there alone, but I was just going to get a ball, right? No big deal.
So, I went outside and knelt at the pool’s edge to get the ball. I couldn’t quite reach it, but I did touch it – just enough to push it to the other end – the deep end. Luckily, it wasn’t that big of a deal. The ball floated down to the other end of the pool and stopped just underneath the end of the diving board.
So, I crawled up on the diving board – still completely alone and unnoticed by anyone else – reached out for the ball-
and fell in.
I couldn’t swim. I couldn’t dog paddle. I couldn’t even float. I had never been in the water alone before. I can still remember the absolute terror of literally being overwhelmed as the water closed over me. Forty years later, my heart still races as I think about it.
And then an amazing thing happened. Someone reached down and pulled me up. I can’t remember a lot from that time in my life, but I do remember the sight of that hand coming down and drawing me out of that water.
Here’s what happened. The babysitter had come to the house at about the time I climbed out on that diving board. When they opened the door to let her in, she could see out that same plate glass window, into the backyard, into the pool, and she saw me fall into the water. She rushed through the house, out the back door, and saved my life.
It’s funny. I don’t think about that all that often. I was afraid of the water for a few years after that, but I got over it. I went on with life. Kids are resilient and all that. But I do remember that day and when I think back, I can’t help but wonder why. Why did that babysitter come right at the time I most needed her?
I was talking with Desi about this a few weeks ago and the only thing I can think of is that God has a plan for me and my life and he didn’t want me to drown that day. I could be wrong, but the timing was amazing. It seems like something too big for mere chance. God was involved. I told Desi that I think God wants me to help kids like that babysitter helped me. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m trying to figure it out.
I was drawn from water.
Maybe I can help one of these kids be drawn from water, too.
Maybe you can, too.