In the porch of a small semi-detached house at the heart of Abeka Lapaz in Accra, a couple sit on two stools, the woman bathing a baby in a plastic bowl. The narrative behind the little man in the tub is as riveting as it is shocking.
The stories of Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth seem farfetched to 21st century Christians. Couples have high expectations of becoming parents within a maximum of two years. But as the Bible puts it “Man proposes but God disposes”. Mr. and Mrs Darko, had such high expectations when they were preparing to tie the knot 15 years ago.
In a little town of Gomoa Aboso in the Central region, 32 year old teacher Israel Darko, jokingly proposed marriage to 24-year-old seamstress Patricia. Little did they know they would get married three years later. While courting they agreed to have three children.
“I was expecting to spread child birth to three within a period of 8 years, at least by age 35, I was not expecting to be a baby nurse,” Patricia said amidst laughter.
She also expected to take seed at most after a year but that was not to happen. Anxiety and fear of being barren set in.
After a year of marriage, Pat was disturbed and visited a gynaecologist with her husband but they were declared fit. This continued for four more years when she demanded for uterus cleaning. Nothing was found.
According to Dr. Kumah of Eden Health Centre, causes of childlessness vary. “Causes for the man may be low sperm count and then in the women there are several causes that affect the egg, the tube, the womb, etc.” He also named compatibility as one of the causes, where there are negative reactions when the sperm and the egg meet.
Patricia says she was ridiculed on many occasions and was the subject of the town’s gossip. She recalled a very sad encounter she had with a good friend and a neighbor whom she was to meet at a spot with specific instruction to use a different routes to avoid embarrassment. To her friend, Pat was a disgrace and was paying for living a promiscuous lifestyle in her youth, a claim she refuted.
“I was a virgin till I got married” she said.
Another incident was with a pastor who led her during “waiting” (a period of prayer and fasting in a serene place). The pastor in question was a very good friend of the couple. On their third period of “waiting” encounter, the pastor suggested a point of contact after their prayer session. Oblivious of what the point of contact meant, Pat agreed. After their prayer session, it was now time for the point of contact. And guess what?…Pat was to hold the pastor’s manhood and later go to bed with him.
“In fact, I was shocked and angry; I told him my peace of mind. I did not tell my husband about it until recently,” she said passionately.
The two major events and pressure from the community informed her decision to move to stay with her husband in Accra. In Accra, just as in Swedru, they attended all sorts of major prophetic programs hoping to get a testimony the after a month or two, while sowing hefty amounts as seeds, all to no avail.
They were directed by a friend to see a herbalist who was actually a spiritualist.
“The man told me, this place, now that you are here, look, your problem is solved, in about two to three months you are going to see a baby…and we were happy,” Israel Darko recalled.
They accepted and religiously gulped down bottles of concoctions with the promise of getting a child in three months. That also proved futile. The herbalist then demanded a bottle of schnapps. It then occurred to them that, they were beginning to seek help from a different deity, one they had vowed never to resort to, no matter how desperate they were.
“After the request my wife looked deep into my eyes but said nothing and when we left, my wife said we will never step foot here again and I agreed with her,” a serious-looking Israel said as he moved to the edge of his seat.
The families of families of both Patricia and Israel were very supportive and kept encouraging them although they were also deeply worried.
“It was not easy,” Israel said repeatedly.
According to them, they never doubted their faith in God though they asked Him the usually question “why me?’, “but we answer it ourselves, if not us then who?”
There were times they wept throughout the night from 11 pm to 4am. After their 10th anniversary of their marriage, Patricia confessed, out of frustration, to her husband that she wanted to end the marriage.
In 2013, her sister who could not cope with work and babysitting, sent her one-year-old baby from the United State for Pat take care of as she would her own son.
At the heart of the Darko’s struggles has been their pastor, Reverend Kennedy Bentum of the Lapaz Branch of the Gospel Ambassadors Church. Rev Bentum had prophesied had constantly supported the couple with prayers and prophesied that they would be blessed with a baby.
In December, 2014, the couple went for their church’s Spiritual Camp Meeting in Kumasi, and as it had been for the past six years, they went forward to be prayed over for the fruit of the womb. The main speaker for the conference asked her “God has something great for you, can you handle it?” She answered positively not knowing what it really meant since she had been prophesied to on several occasions.
In February 2015, she missed her period and was alarmed but doubtful it was a positive sign. Her husband rushed out to get a pregnancy test which she refused to use. Israel, then took a sample of her urine for the test and it was positive. “In the morning my husband called out to me to have look at something, I refused but later budged….I was still in doubt until the gynaecologist confirmed it…..I thanked God so much,” she recounted with her eyes closed and a broad smile. They were counseled by their pastor and friend, Reverend Kennedy Bentum, a biomedical scientist, on how to handle the pregnancy. “Christian couples can take cues from related Bible stories and with medical advice and prayer [childbirth] it is possible because God is able.”
On September 5th, 2015, the miracle baby was born through a C-section, a safety measure taken as a result of her age, she was 40.
“I never experienced any discomfort throughout my pregnancy and that proved to me that when God takes over, everything is perfect…when I came home the following day, I knelt down at my door post gave thanks and wept” she said.
Her husband who could not hide his excitement said, “we realized it was not by our might so we named him Christodia (Christ’s own).”
The happy couple encouraged other couples in similar situations not to lose heart, trust in God and to marry those they really love and can live with no matter the situation, but hinted that “IT IS NOT EASY.”