Monday, November 28, 2011


Our Thanksgiving week has come to an end. We are full of paradox. We have much for which to be thankful. God has done far more than we anticipated in six years in Rwanda. We have many friends. God is God – Sovereign, Just, Loving, and Gracious. Our walk on earth is full of joy and we wait in eagerness for the return of our Lord. Yet, at the same time as I close my eyes I see Mugisha Gabriel in a seizure. How does one communicate?

  • We believe God has adopted all who believe into his eternal family.

  • We believe the metaphor of adoption communicates the shocking state our condition apart from God.

  • We believe the metaphor of adoption communicates the intimacy God gives to all His children.

  • We believe God loves orphans and vulnerable children.

  • We believe every child has a right to be in a family.

  • We believe that sickness, suffering, and death are not God’s will. We believe sin has brought horrible consequences upon this earth.

  • We believe God commands those He has adopted to adopt orphans.

  • We believe that God’s glory is shown by His adopted children telling their stories of their journeys with God.

  • We believe God is the hero of eternity. We believe His plans, purposes, and actions began before Creation.

  • We believe a day is coming when every tear will be wiped away and joy will be our eternal state.

We long for a day in which He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

For two years a small group of us at Christ’s Church in Rwanda (CCR) gathered to pray for vulnerable children. CCR’s founding intent is to develop “thought leaders.”

  • We believe this is God’s call.

  • We believe a thought leader is one who gathers others and leads them in discovery. We notice this ranges from university students to middle class housewives to the upper echelon of a nation’s leadership. Sometimes thought leaders are mistakenly seen as power brokers.

  • We believe CCR must develop philosophic and pragmatic leadership of how an upwardly mobile church cares for the most vulnerable.

  • We believe the CHURCH must both submit to government authorities while paradoxically holding them to account as the prophets of old.

  • We believe the Rwanda Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion’s (MIGEPROF) policy of de-institutionalization reflects God’s intent.

  • We believe God’s adopted children must engage.

This small group at CCR saw that our members were engaged with orphans in many different ways. However, they felt that God was calling us as a cooperate body to pull our gifts and resources together. Thus we would encourage and confront our community to embrace the orphan. To prevent children from going into institutions/orphanages we would provide temporary families through fostering and find permanent families by advocating for adoption. Moses Mbabaali, our youth pastor shared with us that the CCR senior pastor must lead in this and others would follow. Jana was in prayer one morning in May. She poured her heart out to God as things seemed to be moving slowly. She asked for confirmation that this was the direction He was calling CCR. Then she received a phone call that an abandoned baby needed a home from Faith Shaw. Spoken For began.

A few days later Mugisha Gabriel entered our home. (To read more about the story of Gabriel’s entrance to our family see (To see most recent photos of a fat Gabriel see:

As Mugisha Gabriel entered our home we know he came with no guarantees. Children are unpredictable. However, he came with God’s promise. He was loved. He was in an earthly and heavenly family. God would protect and provide. Mugisha Gabriel was an answer to sincere prayers. God would use Mugisha Gabriel to display His glory and intent.

Mugisha Gabriel is a premature baby. With that birth trauma comes some unforeseen health issues. We believe these are opportunities for God to display His glory.

After about six weeks in our home Mugisha Gabriel became a colicky baby. He gained weight, but would cry inconsolably.

As he gained weight the first flesh to his skin and bones body was pure muscle. He weighed only a few kilograms (pounds), but it was all meat. He had six pack abs, veins on his biceps, and tight hamstrings. He looked like a 2 kilo (4 pound 4 ounce) body builder. In the back of our minds we pondered if this muscle was an indication that Mugisha’s body would grow to be as strong as his will to live.

Yet, another possibility existed. High muscle tone is an early indication of cerebral palsy (cp). On 21 July 2011, Canadian Baptist Missionary friends, Bruno and Kathleen Soucy came by our home with a visitor of theirs, Dr. Peter Rumney who is a pediatric specialist for premature babies. We were fortunate that as we had suspicions God placed a specialist in our Kigali community for a few weeks. Dr. Rumney noted that though Gabriel had many things going well for him, he also possibly had the early signs of cerebral palsy.

We entered an odd season of prayer. Our youngest son, Timothy has cerebral palsy. Several of our close friends have children with cerebral palsy. We no longer beg God for the cp to be taken away. Childhood handicaps are not God’s intent. Yet, His glory is manifest through our struggles of earth. We held our breath and sought the glory of God.

We heard a rumor of an American pediatrician at King Faisal Hospital (KFH) in Kigali. We asked questions and the rumor was true. Dr. Eileen Ulku was a Yale Pediatric Lecturer spending a season in Rwanda training Rwandan doctors. Besides her labor in education, Dr. Ulku was available for clinics. We made an appointment. Gabriel was gaining weight and the colick was diminishing. A CAT scan was ordered to confirm if Gabriel had cp.

Gabriel was given an IV during the scan. Jana held his hand through the scan. Dave stayed with the technicians. For Gabriel it was like torture. For us it was necessary but traumatic. As Dave saw the scan take place the technician pointed out the obvious. There was something in the middle of Gabriel’s brain.

The next day was the day that Sophia and Dave would fly to the USA to begin Sophia’s Wheaton journey. We saw Dr. Ulku a few hours before the flight on Thursday, 10 August. Gabriel has a large left parietal cyst. However, there were no signs of cerebral palsy. Gabriel did not have symptoms that indicated the cyst was causing problems. Dr. Ulku explained that cysts are sometimes part of being a premature baby. Most are never noticed. Gabriel’s brain appeared to be adapting well. She mentioned that she would consult with Dr. Emmanuel Rukakemwa, the KFH radiologist; and Dr. Emmanuel Nkusi, the KFH neurosurgeon. (Both are CCR members.) She also mentioned that she would consult with her pediatric neurologist colleagues at Yale. Her consel was to wait and watch.

The conversations were sobering. However, we realized that God had placed us in a community with great expertise. In fact, we realized it was unlikely that if we were in a similar situation in the USA we would have as much community expertise near us as we had in Rwanda.

Gabriel continued to gain weight. His collick diminished.

Then something odd began happening on Thursday, 17 November. Gabriel began having odd rhythmic movements. It was like he was doing the old fashioned straight leg sit ups. With rhythm he would do these movements for 2 to 5 minutes. His eyes were open. He appeared aware, but unable to control the movements. He did not cry. He did not slobber. It was almost like a muscle spasm. It was almost like hiccups. We have over reacted before in raising children. However, Jana remarked that in raising six babies she had never seen anything like this. In the back of our mind were seizures.

Dr. Ulku was out of Rwanda until 1 December. On Friday, 18 November we contacted Dr. Nkusi and mentioned the possibility of seizures. He referred us to King Faisal Hospital’s best pediatrician, Dr. Steven Musiime. We made an appointment for Monday, 21 November.
On Monday, 21 November we waited in line for several hours. We tried to think of the best way to communicate what was happening with Gabriel. It only happened for 9 to 15 minutes each day. Then just as it was our turn to see Dr. Musiime Gabriel began his odd rhythmic movements. Dr. Musiime immediately diagnosed Gabriel’s rhythmic motions as convulsions. Gabriel was admitted to the hospital. He was given an IV.

The next day Gabriel had another CAT scan. The cyst in his brain has grown just slightly. Dr. Nkusi has ruled out surgery. We are trying to treat Gabriel’s seizures with medication. We have yet to have a day when Gabriel does not have a seizure. Some days the seizures are less frequent and intense. Then we will have a day where they last long, are a bit more frequent, and have more intensity. A week later we are still at King Faisal Hospital.

The seizures end with Gabriel having a confused and painful look on his face. He cries. We comfort him.

When I close my eyes I see Gabriel in a seizure. What do we do? How do we communicate?

At best we quote scripture, pray, and remember our beliefs. Please join us in faith and prayer.

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