Running the race together...reflection from Kiwoko

Mpkenandjudith Posted by Ken & Judith Finch on Tue, 08 Dec 2009 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Training for long distance runs often seems to prompt people to reflect on ‘running the race’. This has certainly been the case with our recent ‘Kiwoko Chase’ – a 16km run and Fun Day for the hospital. For Judith, running has never been a big feature of life, so a 10-mile run was a somewhat daunting challenge. As many of us went into strict training, it caused us to think about our own spiritual walk and journey.

What a difference it makes when you have someone to train with, who you feel accountable to, who offers words of encouragement, who keeps you going when you think you can’t run any further.

During the last leg of the run when the heat and tiredness were kicking in and my run had slowed down to a walk, a voice from behind shouted, “They are about to overtake you!” Seconds later, two student nurses appeared, running on either side of me and saying, “We are not competitors, we are just morale boosters.” Immediately, my walk turned back to a run and the nurses accompanied me the rest of the way to the finish line. How wonderful when someone chooses to run alongside you just to accompany you because they care, because they want you to do well, because they want to see you keep going.

Many visitors pass through Kiwoko Hospital and they frequently ask us what our roles are in the hospital. We naturally jump to explaining (or at least trying to explain) the day-to-day jobs we ‘do’, but in actual fact for us, as Christians, it goes much deeper than that.

As we reflect on our ‘roles’ as Mission Partners over the past four years, we see that much of our time is actually spent ‘being’ with people, making ourselves available, drawing alongside people, accompanying them on their journey.

In our daily life at Kiwoko, our paths cross with people from all walks of life, at different stages of their journey. These people have vastly different needs: the colleague who has just been diagnosed with HIV; the hospital driver who was the victim of a deliberate acid burn attack; the housekeeper who comes to work with a swollen eye, having just been beaten by her husband for not balancing the cooking pot properly on the fire and then not putting enough salt in the food; the overseas medical student who is homesick; the mother who has lost her ten-month old baby from severe dehydration after they chose to treat the child with local herbs rather than come to hospital; the parents who are rejoicing in the birth of their newborn baby; the medical elective student who has witnessed, for the first time, a death of child simply through lack of resources; the students who are celebrating success in their exams.

We are called to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’. What a privilege to accompany people in their walk through life, whether for a day, a week, a few months or years, be it to laugh with them, cry with them, listen to them or offer advice and practical support.

Often there are no easy answers or solutions to an individual’s situation – but we are simply called to be available and ‘present’ for someone as a friend, or a parent figure.

Much of Jesus’ ministry was about being with people. We believe that we’ve been called to Kiwoko to do likewise. Let us not underestimate the impact and importance of being involved in what my father, a long-term missionary, referred to as a ‘ministry of availability’.

Wherever we are based, let us seek to invest time to be with people, to draw alongside them, to bring something of Christ’s light to them. There is no shortage of spiritual darkness in the surrounding Kiwoko community…theft, gossip, witchcraft, child sacrifices, sexual immorality, child abuse…God wants to shed His light in the dark places and to bring healing and transformation.

We are grateful to the many people who have chosen to invest time in us and to walk with us on our journey here in Kiwoko, be it those back home, those who have been visited us here or the friends we have made in our local community.

As we all share in a ministry of reaching out to people with God’s love and truth, may we seek to invest time in others. Let us show encouragement and support to those who are struggling in their own race and offer a new direction to those who have lost their way. Let us draw alongside people and bring Christ’s light to those who don’t know love in their lives.

As someone once said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ken & Judith Finch