The day before I left for South Sudan, I watched my best friend give birth.
I felt helpless—but not in a bad way. Her midwives attended to her every need, checking the heart rate of the baby, and providing an atmosphere of peace that I didn’t expect at a birth.
I knew somehow that this would connect to my trip—but I had no idea how.
In a moment of calm, I chatted one of with the midwives about my upcoming time in North Africa.
“Wait—you’re going to South Sudan?” she asked. “They have the highest maternity mortality rates in the world.”
She continued to share with me the challenges women face and how the need for midwives is crucial. As I took photos of my friend’s newborn son, fresh waves of gratitude hit me that he was safe and sound.
Later that night, I got on the plane with my team from YWAM UofN Kona.
I wondered how I could make an impact on this issue—I’m a photographer, not a midwife. But I knew God was orchestrating more than I could see.
In our first week in South Sudan, my team and I headed off into the bush to the village of Magwi. We had an opportunity to visit the local hospital, Magwi Primary Health Centre, to visit and pray for the sick. One of the workers showed us around the facility and took us to the maternity ward.
And that’s where I met Rebecca.
Rebecca has been a midwife for 7 years, one of six midwives for Mawgi PHCC. She told me of the sobering statistics for mothers:
“More women die in childbirth than graduate high school. ”
This very reason is why she got into the medical field: to help the mothers in her community by reducing the mortality rates. The majority of mothers have complications in birth resulting in death due to lack of education and proper healthcare.
She introduced me to a new mother and her premature baby girl. I got to pray for this sweet newborn and even prophesy over her life. She was 3lbs—so tiny, yet so calm. After visiting the mothers, I had the opportunity to talk to and interview Rebecca.
Rebecca shared details of the health complications mothers face, and her passion to educate parents and families.
She delivers 30-40 babies a month, with some mothers coming from distant villages just to get a midwife. Their hospital provides free healthcare, but a lack of beds and medical supplies puts constant pressure on how many families they are able to help.
But this crisis was not the end of the story.
During my time in South Sudan, I was encouraged how biblical principles and aspects of Jesus played out among the body of Christ.
I met a mother by the name of Halima.
One day, she heard a baby crying all alone. Halima found out the mother had died during birth. With courage, this single mother took in this child and adopted her into her home.
It made me wonder—would I be quick to do the same?
All I can think about is the ringing words of Jesus speaking on the mount of beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Many times in my travels, I’ve only seen the lack. But in reality—I realized I lacked a greater understanding of the kingdom. The kingdom isn’t built on hot water, electricity, or comfort.
The kingdom is built on more: clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and taking in widows and orphans—being the very hands and feet of Jesus.
This is kingdom living, this is the gospel—and this is what will truly transform the world.