Lectionary Selection: Acts 16:16-34
Prayers for Zimbabwe:
Gracious Mother/Father God, create in us a spirit where Jesus is a constant and love abounds. Help us to find ways to comfort our neighbors and lift the ravages of poverty and disease as we walk together in hope. Remind us to receive the gifts of others; the gifts of love, music, laughter and the vision of the world through new eyes. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Zimbabwe:
Zimbabweans are prone to naming their children with words relating to the parents’ feelings surrounding the child’s birth. Some of my favorite names include Wisdom, Courage and Hard Life. Some of my not-so-favorites are Jealous, Forget and Nomatter. I like to visit the neonatal intensive care unit at the Mt. Selinda Mission Hospital where pocket-sized babies are kangarood between their mother’s breasts. I took a special interest in the perfect, albeit tiny , baby of Alica Simango. I would hold the precious bundle in the palm of my hand, coo and ahh over her and say, “She is a little bit, just a little bit of a person.” About three months after Alice’s discharge, I was visiting the female ward at the hospital when I heard my name being called. The woman said, “Maryjane, do you remember me? You named my baby. My baby’s name is Little Bit.” Yes, it was my friend Alice Simango. Alice was very sick and within a week my friend died of complications of HIV/AIDS leaving Little Bit in the care of her grandmother, Esther. Since Little Bit is the same age as my granddaughter in the U.S.A. , she became my surrogate granddaughter. I watched her grow, suffer with kwashikore (a form of malnutrition), and learn to work alongside her grandmother. I too was learning from her mother and grandmother. I learned that HIV/AIDS takes people I care about it and leaves children behind. I learned children who are not breast fed are particularly susceptible to malnutrition. I learned that it’s a long walk to the hospital for treatment, especially if you are a grandmother carrying a toddler on your back. And I learned that the love of Jesus is constant.
Health care is in crisis in Zimbabwe after the country experienced many years of economic decline. There is a shortage of doctors (one doctor for 6250 people compared to one doctor for 435 in the U.S.), a shortage of medicines and a shortage of money to pay nurses and other health care providers. Maternal mortality rates are alarmingly high at 700 per 100,000 births. (Compare to the U.S.A. at 8 per 100,000 births.) Life expectancy is 49.64 years, almost thirty years less than in the U.S.A. On a positive note, HIV/AIDS infection rates are gradually declining thanks to an aggressive education campaign, readily available condoms, prevention of mother-to-infant transmission and affordable anti-retroviral medications.
I enjoy my work at Mt. Selinda Mission Hospital social work and administration department because health care is basic and necessary to the goal of improving lives and alleviating poverty.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Don and Maryjane Westra)
Mission Partners in Zimbabwe:
- Christian Care
- United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ)
- Zimbabwe Council of Churches
- United Theological College - Harare
- Zimbabwe Synod, UCCSA
Video Resource about Zimbabwe:
Global Ministries Missionaries in Zimbabwe:
Maryjane and Don Westra, members of Federated Church UCC, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, serve the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe. Maryjane works as a health and child care consultant atMt.Selinda. Don works on the staff of the Micro-Enterprise and Strategic Planning/Management program at Mt Selinda.