An Unlikely Meeting
I still remember the day that I met a couple of heroes. I met them in an unlikely place, a place where it would be easy for us to misunderstand one another and a place where sometimes compassion isn’t given and received well.
They were pulling into Planned Parenthood. Scared to death about a child they felt they had no ability to support. Sad about what they thought may be their only choice. Ready to end the pregnancy and make the problem go away. Victims of a culture that hates life and that instructs young couples that the ‘products of conception’ are medical conditions rather than people.
I spoke with them on their way in. I stopped their car and handed them a brochure to tell them about all the options available to them besides abortion. Then I saw them go into the doors of the clinic and wept for them and for their child.
Then, by the grace of God, they displayed themselves to be heroes. In a life-hating culture that would attempt to push them toward death, they chose life. They walked out of that clinic! They came and asked me for help. They told me their son’s name, he was going to named Juan after his dad. And I started praying for him every day.
So I met some heroes. I met some young people who were ready to step into adulthood far too young without reasonable assurance they’d be successful. They were ready to welcome baby Juanito and we were overjoyed to help them.
This was such an exciting time. Ileana, my bride, was only three weeks ahead of Tanya in her own pregnancy. It was fun that we were at exactly the same stage. Shortly after getting our first ultrasound, Juan and Tanya sent me this text:
Here he was. Our little miracle! We continued to stay in contact, and Ileana and I prayed regularly for Juan, Tanya, and little Juanito. The day before we were induced to give birth to Zoe, we had lunch with them and thanked God that our paths had crossed in such a miraculous way.
Fast forward 10 days. Tanya is having contractions and goes to the hospital. She gets there, excited to give birth to Juanito.
But, there’s a problem.
They can’t find little Juanito’s heartbeat. Once they look at him with an ultrasound, they realize what happened (or at least their best guess). Juanito’s umbilical cord got wrapped around his foot and he kicked off the cord. He had died before labor began.
This is Juan and Tanya with little Juanito after he was born:
Here’s the deal. I’m completely broken by this story. I have no idea why God allowed this to happen. I don’t know why God saved Juanito’s life by using his heroic parents in such an incredible way, only to let it be stopped short by a freak accident 7 months later. I’m shocked and I’m devastated. I’m devastated because I couldn’t wait to meet Juanito and celebrate his life. I’m devastated for Juan and Tanya, the heroic, young couple who saw their son’s life taken from them. I’m devastated by the fact that such gross evil and pain take place in this world.
I relate very much with the words of C.S. Lewis: "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't talk to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." I am having trouble finding any silver lining at the moment. That is probably because there isn’t one. This is one of those things that happen in this broken world that just make no sense. Perhaps God has a reason. He isn’t telling me.
As the Lord leads, I’m asking our church (and others) to do three things in response to Juan and Tanya’s story. Juan and Tanya are raising funds to bury Juanito here. As you’re able, I’m asking you to give. They need to raise 3,000.00 to bury their son. Let’s raise the funds for them.
Second, I’m asking you to enter into prayer for a pro-life ministry at our church. Even without clear reasons why this tragedy happened, we can still see it as a reminder that this is a real battle. When we engage in this important ministry, we are engaging in the most active spiritual battle in our society. Satan has greatly impacted our culture, resulting in our widespread hatred of life. Whether we’re talking about abortion and sexual ethics, unjust war or capital punishment, poverty, or euthanasia, whenever we are engaging an ethic of life, we are right at the center of how Satan has won many victories in our culture. Engaging the fight means engaging spiritual forces that want to destroy us and bring death. We need adequate prayer coverage as we fight the battle.
Third, I am asking for some of you to take an active step in joining in this ministry with me. There are people just like Juan and Tanya every single day that learn of an unplanned pregnancy. Many of them only need someone to love them enough to empower them to choose life and to offer to support them in that choice. I see many of us pleading with women and praying at Planned Parenthood on Fridays, but more than that, I see a lot of baby showers in our church’s future as we see many more babies that we have an obligation to love and support because they are our neighbors.
And finally (even though I guess this is technically a fourth thing), pray for Juan and Tanya. Pray that God’s Spirit will fall on them and give them strength and comfort. Pray that they will find everything they need in God and in His Gospel.
God’s peace be with you.