He Never Gives Up:
Passion/Palm Sunday, April 5, 2009
by Jerri and Bill Savuto
A few weeks ago during lunchtime, my husband and I heard what sounded like a marching band. We literally jumped to our feet and ran to the compound fence, and there indeed was a band of twelve men and one woman playing trumpets, saxophones, tubas, and drums as they walked down the dusty dirt road. Behind them were two groups of traditionally dressed dancers moving to the beat of the music. In seven years of serving at Maua Methodist Hospital in Maua, Kenya, we had never seen or heard a band.
Immediately hundreds of people poured out of the small shops and kiosks that line the streets of Maua to see what was happening. The band and dancers made their way to the stadium, where they performed for the hundreds of people that had followed them with enthusiastic clapping and shouts of joy.
As the band and dancers left Maua to visit the surrounding villages, the people soon dispersed and went back to their work as usual. The joy and excitement faded as quickly as it had appeared with the first sounds of the band.
That parade reminded me of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The people gave him a wonderful welcome, running ahead and following after with shouts of "Hosanna" and other praises, but what happened after the end of the parade? Just as in our parade, the onlookers soon went back to work and to life as usual.
This story reminds me just how fickle we are. One day we read the Word of God and understand that Jesus Christ is "The Way," and the next day we have rationalized why it is impossible to follow Him. We hear a missionary share a story about the joy and thanksgiving of the poor and wonder why we are neither a joyful nor a thankful people when we have so much stuff. However, when the missionary asks for funding for an HIV/AIDS program, we feel anger and resentment.
The church mission team asks the building committee to give 10 percent of the funds collected to build the new sanctuary to help build a shelter for the homeless, and the uproar in the church has members threatening to leave if one penny they donated goes to anything but the sanctuary. The neighborhood in which the church was built in the early 1960s has completely changed, and now the membership cannot pay the pastor's salary much less the gas and electric bills but still refuses to ask the new neighbors to join them because it is "our" church.
We pay for membership at the local health club and attend only two to three times a month, try another "new" diet, and have a reputation in our church as the best cook, especially of those yummy desserts, yet are unchanged by the Sunday school lesson about the millions of people who are starving. We talk of God's endless goodness to us and our family and yet we have "giver's burnout."
Today, when we watch the children of our church walk in carrying their palm branches, rejoice and be glad because "He never gives up on you. Never forget that." (I Corinthians 1:9, The Message). Today you and I can decide to follow "The Way." We can hunger and thirst for Him rather than another brownie and cup of coffee. We spend time in His presence and learn to recognize His voice. We can love God and our neighbor as ourselves by feeding, clothing, giving shelter, water, and health care to, and visiting the imprisoned, the lonely, the outcasts, the least of these around the corner and around the world. "He never gives up! Never forget that."
Jerri and Bill Savuto are missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving at Maua Methodist Hospital, Maua, Kenya, where they have served for seven years. Jerri, a nurse, is presently serving as the Quality Improvement and Staff Development Officer for the hospital. In 2008 Maua Methodist Hospital won the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) Award for the Best Nursing Care and Cleanliest Hospital in a private or mission hospital. They competed against Nairobi Hospital and Aga Khan Hospital--both large, private hospitals with all services provided and priced much like the US. Maua Methodist Hospital charges approximately $200 for a seven-day stay. It is a rural hospital that serves one million people, with one-third of their patients unable to pay for any of their hospital bills.
Date posted: Mar 10, 2009