There is a girl in Mapanza who I have gotten to know over the last four years. I’ll call her Olive. She’s about 21 years old right now. When she was 15, she became pregnant with her first child, Bestina. When I asked her once about Bestina’s father, she said it was all a big “mistake.” Bestina is 6 years old now. In 2010, Olive became pregnant at the age of 18 with her second child, who she named after me. Little Darbi’s father opened up marriage negotiations with Olive’s family, and the two began living as a married couple (that’s how it works here, folks…). One day, the man left for Lusaka and never came back. When Olive found out she was pregnant, she called him repeatedly. Finally, she was told, “He has another wife in Lusaka, he doesn’t want to marry you.” So Olive had Bestina, and she had little Darbi. She was faithful to attend church, Bible studies, and often led out in the youth group and in singing.
Last year, Olive got married. She married a man in Lusaka who she said was a strong Christian. However, as is the custom when a girl has children fathered by other men, her new husband did not want her other children. She left the children with her parents and went to Lusaka to start her new life (a "cultural" aspect of Zambia that we find hard to understand). Bestina and little Darbi come to Kids Club every week, and I often ask them about their mother. They simply state “she is in Lusaka.”
A few weeks ago, I was surprised to see Olive on the dusty streets of Mapanza. She was very pregnant and had come “home” to her village to have the baby. She would then return to Lusaka. At Kids Club yesterday, I asked Bestina how her mother was. “In Lusaka,” she said. “With the baby?” I asked. She said yes. “Was it a girl or a boy?” “A girl.” “Aw…what did she name her.” My heart dropped to my stomach when Bestina told me in her innocent little voice that her mother named her 3rd daughter FAVORITE.
I just stood there, looking at this little 6 year old girl who had been abandoned and called a mistake. “Favorite?” I repeated. “Yes.”
Bestina may not understand what that word means right now, but one day she will. It hit me then that there is nothing I can say to make this little girl believe in her value, her worth. She has been rejected, another has been put in her place and has been given the name of Favorite.
But oh, how grateful I am that there is One who will be able to get through to Bestina and little Darbi. When they were being woven together in the depths of the earth, His eyes saw their unformed bodies. And they are his favorites. Thank you Jesus.
Little Darbi is on the right smiling (the one who doesn't look completely terrified..)
Bestina holding a baby at Kids Club