"The baby has died! The baby has died!"
Melissa Williamson was cooking lunch one day last week when the daughter of the village leader came running and shouting.
The girl’s little brother had come down with a fever earlier that day. Melissa dropped everything and ran to check out the situation. As she got close to the village she could hear the distinct and sorrowful sound of the mother: "My child! My child!"
Upon entering the house Melissa discovered that the boy -- about 3 years old -- was unconscious but breathing rapidly. She quickly checked his vitals and found his temperature to be more than 106 degrees. The mother told her that he had a seizure and that he was now unresponsive -- in her words the boy had died and come back to life.
Dave Williamson arrived and the missionaries began bathing the child in cold water to get his temperature down. They gave him medicine for the fever and rehydration fluids. A test showed that the boy had falciparum malaria, which can turn into life-threatening cerebral malaria.
They got the boy’s temperature under control -- 101 degrees -- and gave the first dose of malaria medication. Then they left for a couple of hours to take care of their own family.
"We went back to the house a little later and were disappointed to find that the boy, still basically unresponsive, now had a temp of 103.5," Melissa wrote. "The family had not been bathing the boy at all, and the rehydration fluid was still there, unused. We again stepped in and showed them how to care for the fever, and even had them try and do all the bathing, temperature taking and so on themselves, with us present to help if needed.
"Just as we were getting ready to leave the house, the father said to us, ’We know that what you are doing is your kind of sorcery (as he pointed to the thermometer, stethoscope and medicines we’d been administering) and now we will do our own kind. We are scared.’"
"As we sat in the house, several men came with different ’tools’ which the father, who is believed to be the most powerful witchdoctor in our village, used to perform sorcery on the child. The remedy involved a pig-leg bone with a vine tied around it being stuck in the floor of the house just below where the boy lay sleeping. The man then took a piece of bark, chewed it, and began spitting on the boy. He did this bark chewing and spitting routine many times and then it was done.
"Everyone in the house was hopeful that these incantations would appease the spirits that are making him sick. We just sat there praying for the poor boy."
The Williamsons went back later to check on the baby.
"We were sad to see that the father and other men from the village had brought a lot of other things from the jungle into the house with which to perform more rituals over the baby. This time, we weren’t even allowed to come into the house. They basically told us that they have it all under control and that we didn’t need to come in anymore."
Please pray that the Arimtap people will come to understand the way of salvation. Pray too that this small boy will survive to one day know the truth of God.