Written by Ana Gobledale
July - August 2002
You are the light of the world...let your light shine before others. —Matthew 5:14a,16b
Two candles provide light for the 12 people gathered in the little reed church on the edge of the Okavango Delta. I have joined them after crossing the river on a ferry. Seronga is the first of six churches I will visit. The congregation wants to respond to AIDS in their communities, but how? "Where do we start? We tend cattle. We don't have lots of money."
As we begin to explore possibilities together, we begin to rediscover what it means to be the church. As we talk about the power of presence and prayer, we realize that this ministry won't take a lot of money and is not confined to those with HIV/AIDS. There are other sick people who simply need to feel God's presence and to hear words of hope and assurance. This the members of the Seronga church can do!
United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
Pastor Francoise called me to the hospital to take her and her infant son, Dimetris, home. When I arrive, Francoise and two other women greet me. Francoise holds Dimetris in her arms and tells me they will now pray. First they sing a beautiful hymn with full, beautifully blended voices, singing not only with their lips but with their hearts as well. I hum along. Then they each begin to pray their own prayer aloud. The room fills with earnest voices thanking God for delivering them through a crisis time, for Dimetris' returning health, for their community of faith that has sustained them with "hands-on presence." I join with prayers in English and Kreyol. As Francoise softens her voice, we do, too.
Then she says, "Benediction, Sherry." I offer the blessing in my halting Kreyol and it is then I know there are not three Haitian women and one blan (white or foreigner) woman in that room.
In our time of singing and praying, God has transformed us into four women whose only purpose is to give thanks to God for the miracle of life; for the healing of Dimetris; for God's abiding presence with us in every aspect of life. Four women and a baby leave the hospital that morning aware of being accompanied by the spirit of God, blessed to be one in the spirit and one in the Lord.
National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti
Port au Prince
We're part of a wonderful circle of love! The new dentist at the Subirana clinic is Damaris, who attended my Sunday School class at Subirana 15 years ago!
Joyce Baker, M.D.
San Pedro Sula
This afternoon, while rushing into the administration building, I nearly tripped over a bundle of cloth lying beside the step. It took me a moment to realize the bundle, under the porch roof and out of the rain, contained a small girl taking her afternoon nap. Covered by a sari, she lay on her side, one arm under her head as a pillow. Pretty bracelets dangled from her wrists. She slept peacefully, seemingly unaware of the activity around her.
Later, when I entered my own house, my husband, Kurt, gestured to me to talk quietly because our son was taking his afternoon nap. I walked into the quiet bedroom. There, on the bed, our two-year-old son lay in the exact same position as the little girl—arm under his head as a pillow, on his side with his legs tucked up under him, a cloth draped over his small body. He lay there peacefully.
The juxtaposition of these scenes made me wonder at the marvels of God's family.
Mary Schaller Blaufuss
United Theological College Bangalore
At the gate of a traditional Thai home there is always a clay pot of water and a coconut shell ladle. Any weary and thirsty traveler may drink the water which is replenished each morning. The traditional greeting is not, "How are you?" but, "Have you eaten?" When someone drops by at dinnertime, whether invited or not, a place is offered at the table. The best food goes to the guest, and the best china, the best room and the best linen.
Gathered here we remember those who served
We rejoice in all our blessings
Now renew us in the power of your spirit
God, hear our prayer.
Fifteen hundred voices brought this hymn to life in the shadows of the saints at the 200-year-old Kuruman Moffat Mission. We composed the lyrics to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. The tune is by Phil Porter, #742 in The New Century Hymnal.
Carol and Lawrence Gilley
Clair runs the day center for homeless women where I volunteer. When Clair announced she was leaving for another job, we celebrated her time at the center with food, performances and speeches by our homeless clients.
Several women had never spoken in front of a crowd before, but it didn't matter, for they needed to communicate how much she had changed their lives and how grateful they were. Some were so overcome with emotion that tears rolled down their faces. Clair has impacted the lives of many women whom most would overlook. Amidst the trials and problems that go along with running the day center, she managed to spread the love of Jesus to each of the women there.
I stood in awe of her and realized we all have that opportunity to make a difference.
Marybole Project for Women