Sustainability of Community...the responsibility

(a note from exile)

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure the diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money-not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.  Luke 9: 1-4 

This post marks the third and final blog posting on Sustainability of Community.  Soon the time will be here to make the commitment to the workers of Chicuque Rural Hospital.  This is a commitment not only to help provide a way of life for them, but a more symbolic commitment stating you are a part of their community.  Tuesday, November 29th, will be the time to take being the hand and feet of Christ out of our comfortable homes and beyond ourselves to those of a country, a neighborhood, a family completely unlike that which we are familiar.  And what a blessed opportunity it is!

While we serve in God’s mission in Mozambique, I find myself often asking “what is my responsibility in this?” The questions that follow are, “How does this further the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth” and “How is God glorified?”  These questions guide me in the path to being a healthy participant in the community of those whom I wish to serve along side.   I check whether I have listened appropriately to the spirit by asking “Where is God in this?” If I can find suitable answers to these four questions, then I feel I am divinely supported and guided.

I write this to you sitting on the front porch of a cabin in the mountains of Swaziland.  The weather is cool, the scenery is green and lush, the people are the friendliest I have met in Africa.  Swaziland is quiet different from Mozambique, sharing borders and little else. As a result of expiring visas and changes in the procedures of immigration, my family and I made a cannonball run escape to Swaziland, to regroup, apply for different visas, and to await direction.  We had to the leave the country by November 17th or risk being permanently exiled from Mozambique (well, permanent like for a year). In all honestly, we have struggled with our placement.  The sparse town where we live, the lack of resources, the lack of friends for our children, language challenges and the enormity of our task at the hospital have often found us questioning our placement.  So when our car broke down 28 kilometers away from the Swazi border, we once again found ourselves asking the questions above.  Unsure how we would be able to find our way out of the country, we asked “Is Mozambique and Chicuque our responsibility?”  Are our efforts serving to further the Kingdom of Heaven? Should we just take this as a sign and be resolved to our exiled fate?  And it is in these times God reminds us that we are not always the catalyst of change, that we merely provide a space, a connection and the Holy Spirit works to soften the harden heart, to bring comfort in a time of pain, and to pave the way for God’s work to continue.   In our case it was a mechanic named Hannes, who lived and worked on a nearby banana farm.  His efforts and kindness restored our near empty spiritual tanks, and got us physically across the Mozambique border.  We will have ten days all together in Swaziland as the visas are processed.  We will use this time to reflect, renew, and remember.  God has put a call upon our heart for Mozambique and the people of Chicuque.

As we go into the last week of the Sustainability of Community campaign and we continue to learn of people directly affected by local inability to fulfill the commitment of salary, I will turn these questions to you.  What is your responsibility in the lives of the people of Chicuque Rural Hospital?  What efforts can you make to extend the Grace and Peace of Christ to those who find life a struggle everyday? How can your participation in “Sustainability of Community” work to further the Kingdom of Heaven on earth? Lastly, where do you see God in the faces and lives of those who will benefit the most?

We know when we get back things will still be hard, there will still be challenges to which we will not know how to respond.  Each day it gets a little bit easier, and we find comfort knowing that God has called us, the McCormicks, to this place at this time.  We are resolved in our responsibility to Mozambique and Chicuque Rural Hospital as we search to further the Kingdom of Heaven to everyone we meet. We are also thankful for the respite of Swaziland and the opportunity to recharge. Join us as we continue in our responsibility to be a connected global community of faith. 

Sustainability of Introduction

“But he answered one of them and said ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Along with the American Dream, the nuclear family, hot-dogs on the grill and the Cubbies with the pennant, we are conditioned to “A honest days wage for an honest days work.” We have an inclination that we deserve a set rate of compensation for what we produce on a daily basis. We incorporate this into our job offers, our family planning, our vacation preparations, but I think this serves to perpetuate the “me-mentality.” Perhaps this is a cultural formation, which conditions us to hesitate to ask for help, to rely on others, to invoke community. And as we fight nail and tooth to get a piece of what is ours, who really suffers, what is the collateral damage to method of thinking?  For this, I do not have the answer.

I do know here in Mozambique, amidst a country in the financial peril and scandal, there are no guarantees.  No assurance that at the end of the 40 hour work week there will be a paycheck to support the family.  No assurance of food on the table, fees for school, or available medicines at the pharmacy.  The greatest distributed compensation for “an honest days work” is merely hope. Hope there will one day be enough to trickle down to the average labor. Here it is better to show up everydayto a job which cannot pay you, because the hope of one day getting paid is better than the stark reality of having no options.  It is in this time of disparity, one’s community is of the upmost importance.

Community at it’s core is a statement which expresses “Not of myself and not alone, but built on the strength and love of many.” Tasks that may prove to be unattainable for one are accomplished through the sharing with many.  Support is given to bolster a weakened community member, the weight of burden spread to make bearable the load.  Community is an orchestra of values; emotions, directives and goals blended together producing a cacophony of care to each who participates. Members band together to feed the hungry and care for the orphan and widow, just as called upon by Jesus.  And it is a beautiful thing. 

Households in Mozambique will often find not just husband and wife and children, but the presence of extended family.  It is not uncommon to have sisters, grandchildren, brother-in-laws, cousins, nieces, all banding together to survive in the same space, the same community.  When one is elevated and rewarded, all benefit.  A beautiful design of the Kingdom of Heaven! Yet, community is a living being and needs nourishment, culture and care.

This week Elizabeth and I announced an opportunity to share in mission called “Sustainability of Community.” (View the video here)  It is a chance to expand our personal community and ensure a continued success of our fellow man and woman here at Chicuque Rural Hospital.  An opportunity to facilitate how “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

November 29th, 2016 is Giving Tuesday.  After we have stormed the stores on Black Friday and surfed the internet on Cyber Monday, we relegate Tuesday to philanthropy.  This Tuesday, every donation made to the hospital through the Advance Project will be earmarked for the cultivation of the community through staff compensation.  Every dollar donated will be used to provide security and relieve worry for a household connected to Chicuque Rural Hospital. This is how we need your help!

The average employee salary at the hospital is $84.16 per month.  For $1,009.92 a year, a family is supported and can be sustained.  The ripple effect of having a steady income to put back directly into the community reaches past the walls of this hospital, past the families of the employees and into the whole of Inhambane Province.  There are no large corporations to ferry the dollars away, the money earned here stays here.  It will become a revolving door where the community will maintain and care for itself.

Mark you calendars for Tuesday, November 29th.  Plan now to commit to expanding your community to ours in Mozambique.  Let us become a community who shares in the burdens and in the successes.  Throughout this month we will be highlighting employees and families.  We will get to know whom our brothers and sisters in Christ are as we grown in community not bound by proximity. Let us pledge to take the hope of fair compensation, to the reality of Sustainable Community.