This week, as we journey with those who face sickness, we invite you to village in Uganda, during the rainy season...
As the rain pours outside, you feel drops of water fall on your head - there is a leak in the roof again. You are a 63-year-old woman named Josephine. Life has brought many challenges for you, with the stress causing aches and pains in your body. Three of your daughters died from HIV. Now their children live with you, making that fourteen people sleeping under your small roof and fourteen mouths to feed, including your own. With both diabetes and high blood pressure, your health isn’t well enough for you to work to provide for everyone. You have to get by as best you can without taking medicine, because the family can’t afford the extra cost. That means you often feel in pain, dizzy and tired.
Malaria is also a problem for your family. Everyone tries to sleep under mosquito nets, but it doesn’t always help. You, your children and grandchildren often deal with the high fevers and fatigue that comes with malaria. Since you can’t afford to buy the pills that help your grandchildren recover from malaria, you and one of your daughters often gather medicinal herbs from around the house. You soak the herbs in water, squeeze out the juice and have the children drink it, hoping it will reduce their fevers and pains.
There is still stigma around HIV, and since your daughters died of the disease, you and your children worry about not being accepted by the community. Often, you feel alone and worried about not being able to care for your family.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Through the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us what it means to be a neighbour and how to care for others. Let’s see how God used Josephine’s church and neighbours to help change her life.
Arthur, the pastor of the local church, reached out to you. He says the church saw your need and wants to help you and your family. Pastor Arthur had recently joined Channels of Hope, a programme that trains churches to better care for people in their communities who are sick or in need. He learned how to care for the people in the community who were forgotten or ignored. Because of this, Pastor Arthur and the church want to do more to care for families like yours.
The church gives your family a cow, providing milk for your grandchildren to drink, and some piglets to raise and sell. With the community’s support, you are starting to feel more hopeful each day and are able to care for your children and grandchildren. Each Sunday, you wake up early to make hundreds of small banana pancakes, which you sell at the church. Everyone loves your delicious pancakes, and each week they buy all of them, providing a small income that your family can spend on food, medicine and other needs.
You love spending Sundays at the church singing, dancing and talking with your neighbours. While you still struggle at times, your family is better off and you have a community to support you. You don’t feel so alone anymore and your family feels God’s love and protection all around you, through the help of your neighbours.