Forced Dependence

Kathy Randall: Lela, Kenya
For my entire life, I have been fiercely independent. I can do it all by myself, thank you very much, if it’s fixing something, finding something, or going somewhere new. If I don’t know it already, I can learn it myself, and I can figure out how to find the answer. I am a new American girl, and we can do it.
In Kenya, this independence will only kill you. As one who does not understand the culture, and cannot possibly see all the subtleties of a situation, if you try to do it your way all the time, it just will not get done. Healthy, it is easy to think that there are some things that I can do myself, especially since I have over a year and a half experience in the country. But when I am sick, I am forced to depend on those around me. I have to listen to those who have taken it upon themselves to care for me. Twice now, I have been to the hospital, eight days apart, because I was truly sick. My “light was gone” from my eyes and my face. We had to go there to see a doctor, run labs, and get prescriptions. Twice now, it has been the same man to drive me. Charles, a member of the Kenyan Umoja board, has a car, and has been kind enough to take me the hour drive into Kisumu.
In October, Peter Storey asked me where I saw Christ in others. I didn’t have a good answer then, more because I had been so stuck on surviving independently in Kenya the first time, that I didn’t have a good way of approaching the way I was ministering. Here, blessedly, I have not been so independent. As a perpetual guest for seven weeks straight, it forces me to receive hospitality, when I am much more used to giving it, rather than receiving it.
A dependence on others is the necessity in ministry, regardless of which country it happens to occur in. Working in ministry, a pastor can try to do things herself, and things may seem to work for a while, but the spark in the fire will soon grow dim, and all energy will go to keeping the embers lit, consuming the pastor, and then smothering the flame.
In ministry, as we look for Christ in others, we can also be Christ for them. Renée pointed out that so many times we are focused on the giving portion of reaching the lonely, imprisoned, hungry, and sick; being Christ to them as we serve. Sometimes, though, we have to receive this care, as the lonely, imprisoned, hungry, and sick, and be the one that are Christ for others to serve. This has been a very difficult lesson to learn, and it has taken two rounds of getting laid flat on my back sick for a couple of days to learn. I cannot do everything myself. I couldn’t before, the fact has just now been emblazoned in my being.
One thing I noticed, as I have been communicating by text to my friends and family, that my predictive text program on my phone recognizes serving and resting as the same keystrokes. How perfect. Of course, once I am well, I will continue to work and go out to learn more about these fascinating and amazing people with whom I have the privilege to live. But for now, as I rest, I will receive the gift of depending on these who have been placed in my life at this time to care for me, so I can learn from them.

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