Spread the Word, Not the Disease: Ebola Facts and Fiction

Thursday, November 6

African child: "Should I be worried?"

African child: “Should I be worried?”

By Sherri Kirkpatrick of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a

The whole world is a community. Today the community has a common enemy—Ebola. It seems that everyone is carrying the concern and worry on their hearts. This worry erodes the sense of community. Our friends in Africa tell us no one is even shaking hands now.

HealthEd Connect is proactively planning a training program in Zambia in January with the topic: “Spread the Word Not the Disease: Ebola Facts and Fiction.” Sinkhani from Malawi and Wasaidizi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will join the Kafwa (health care volunteers) in Zambia for a four-day training program. We are also inviting partner colleagues to join us from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Time to Learn, Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), and the Zambian Ministry of Health. This training is not in our budget. Who knew a year ago that this need would exist today?

Thankfully, because of generous donations to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative a Tangible Love grant is helping us meet this urgent need. We appreciate your prayerful support of our efforts and the efforts of individuals and organizations around the world who work to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. Go to www.healthedconnect.org and learn more about HealthEd Connect.

Your contributions to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative help Community of Christ help those in need.

Prayer for Peace God of Hope, help us address the crises in our world community, which make you weep. Bless the ministry and training efforts in the places where need is so great, and where we often cannot go. Protect and enlighten those who can help. Let us hold in prayer and show our appreciation for those who risk their lives for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Direct your mind to places where people have no homes. Think of the wars and natural disasters that destroy the homes of refugees. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will have the courage to risk for peace

Make Me a Servant

Sunday, November 2

Danny Belrose

Danny Belrose

By Danny A. Belrose of Independence, Missouri, USA

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. …Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

—Matthew 23:5–7, 10–12 NRSV

Come then, Holy Spirit, breathe on us
—fill us with life anew!
Grace us with new depths of honesty, integrity, and sensitivity.
Grant us new eyes to see the hidden gifts of friend, family, and stranger.
Open unfettered highways of trust, appreciation, and transforming friendship.
Let leadership and management be eclipsed by ministry.
Let not public performance impoverish personal piety.
And finally, gracious God, stir within us the true spirit of servanthood
—remind us of why we do what we do
—the call, the passion, the joy, the hope, the tears, the great laughter.
Give us breathing lessons!
Breathe on us that we may stir your breath of life in others!
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

—Danny A. Belrose, Let the Spirit Breathe: Personal Psalms, Prayers, and Pieces
Used with permission. (Herald Publishing House, Independence, MO) p. 22.

Prayer for Peace Holy Spirit, we look to your Son, our instructor, our Rabbi, our Messiah—the greatest among us—our Servant. Help us hear the call to be humble servants as well, serving Christ’s mission of peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind be drawn to places where people have no homes. Think of refugees whose homes were destroyed by war or natural disaster. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will tend your lambs quietly and with anonymity.

It Started as a Dream…

Saturday, October 18

Boardwalk Through Lush ForestBy Nancy Hylton of Seattle, Washington, USA

You are called to create pathways in the world for peace in Christ to be relationally and culturally incarnate. The hope of Zion is realized when the vision of Christ is embodied in communities of generosity, justice, and peacefulness.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:3a

It started as a dream to serve families with disabled children closer to their homes near Seattle, Washington. It started with the weekday use of a church nursery room by five families and two physical therapists. It started in August 1979 as a nonprofit neurodevelopmental center to help young children and infants with movement and learning problems.

From the start, the center took on a life of its own. Families and staff members built on the strengths others. Soon we needed a larger space. A doctor offered an extra two rooms behind his laboratory. We often used the carpeted hallway for therapy and communication groups as we overflowed the space.

Then we moved to a three-story house. We renovated the entry level as our primary therapy space. We used the stairs to teach kids to climb. Soon we outgrew this space, too.

With the help from donations, we tripled our space in a former day-care facility. To reduce the stress of travel on families, we started satellite locations. Our service expanded to include water therapy, hippo-therapy, and a fitness center. Our clientele expanded to include preteens and young adults.

It is a privilege to be part of this program, from the start—more than 30 years ago. I am convinced God not only struck the spark for our beginning, but God blessed us with the right people and skills. Supportive parents, who continue the work after their children complete the program, continue to bless us. Generous responses from businesses and foundations helped from the start.

God’s blessing on this zionic work is clear to me. Starting from a dream, it developed into a vibrant, life-enhancing program.

Prayer for Peace Generous God, we thank you for the dreams you plant in our hearts—dreams to serve those in need. We thank you for our dreams and plans to end suffering. Thank you for giving us a spark to fan into light and peace for the world.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind go to places where people have no homes. Think of refugees with homes destroyed by war or natural disaster. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying, “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will create a pathway for peace, with faith in your blessing.

A Different Kind of Baby

Monday, October 13

11-13a

Greg Clark

By Greg Clark of Independence, Missouri, USA

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea. …There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. …“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

—Psalm 46:1–2, 4, 10–11

The woman, easily in her 70s, maybe older, shuffled up the sidewalk, pushing a baby stroller. She wore a pale-blue sweatshirt and jeans, protecting her against the chill of a Midwestern day in late October.

Every few steps, she’d stop to fuss with the blankets in the stroller, clearly trying to keep the occupant warm.

Soon, she was right in front of my window, and I thought I might glimpse a child, bundled against the brisk weather. Instead, all I saw was the blanket, pulled protectively over a squirming body.

Then the woman stopped to arrange the blankets again. This time I could see. Instead of an infant, I saw floppy, furry ears; dark eyes; a black nose; and a little pink tongue.

The woman took a couple of more steps and then stopped again to adjust the stroller’s bonnet, obviously protecting the pup’s eyes from the thin sun.

This was one pampered pooch!

The thought hit me, “The pup has no idea how good its life is.” Then another thought hit: “I don’t know how good I’ve got it. In fact, most of us probably don’t understand the wealth of blessings that pour into our lives every day.”

Then I thought of those who find it hard to experience such blessings. I thought of how it’s our call to minister to them—Abolish Poverty, End Suffering—and to open our hearts to their pain and problems. To help others understand the Sacredness of Creation and Blessings of Community which surround them.

The dog in the stroller obviously basked in the love of its master. We can do the same. We are called to open the paths for others to feel that love, too.

Prayer for Peace Tender Shepherd, our blessings are too many to count. Day after day you surround us with your love. At times we separate ourselves from you, and yet you love us still. Often we are in conflict, and yet you trust us to share the peace of Christ. May we be worthy of your trust.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the friendships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. How have you felt the love of the community? Go deeper each day as you consider what acts of blessing you can complete for stranger and friend alike.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will share your love with those in my care.

Prayers for Central America

Saturday, October 11

10-11By Kendra Friend of Independence, Missouri, USA

God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a

Our prayers are still with the people in Central America, where several days of torrential rains in October 2011 led to flooding and mudslides. We lost lives, crops, homes, and infrastructure. The storm is still affecting the community.

Apostle Carlos Enrique Mejia reported: “The country that has suffered the most damage is El Salvador where, according to official figures, 1,300 millimeters of rain fell in seven days. This is equal to three times what falls during a typical winter month, and is double what fell during Hurricane Mitch in 1998!”

Said Gonzalo Mejia, president of the Central America Mission Center: “It was devastating to see several families lose everything and other families remove mud from inside their homes.”

A team provided basic needs and mattresses and prepared 100 care packages. Your contributions to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative helped support a $10,000 relief grant to one of the hardest-hit areas. Thank you for your generous response.

Prayer for Peace God who hears our cries above the storms, thank you for the community’s response to those who suffer. Keep us vigilant that we may be aware of poverty and need. As we share our funds, may we also share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Generous Offerings Spend time meditating on the act of giving an offering. Begin by asking God for the spirit of generosity. Pray and reflect with these questions: How do I feel when I bring my offering to a worship setting and share it? What deep reasons motivate me to give? What is my best understanding of A Disciple’s Generous Response? Considering my financial circumstances, do I feel I am giving to my true capacity? In other words, am I giving the amount I am capable of giving without risking the needs and well-being of my family? Is God asking me to be more generous? How will I respond?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will listen for the voice of Christ leading me to lost lambs.

Excuses…Spilled onto the Floor

Saturday, October 4

10-4By Callie Streich of Independence, Missouri, USA

“…When you are in the service of your companion beings you are only in the service of your God.”

—Mosiah 1:49, adapted

How often do we take a hard look at ourselves? It might be like going into our mind’s cellar, grabbing an old canning jar off the shelf, and beginning to pry open the rusted lid. When that proves too difficult, we put the jar back, next to all the other dusty relics. We save it for another day…when the jar is not so hard to open.

During the summer of 2002, I went to Zambia with an international volunteer program that allows young adults and adults to take part in intercultural experiences. Zambia and all of Africa has a way of finding its way into your heart and soul and setting up camp. I remember the faces, smells, sights, and sounds…all of them are now part of me.

I am lousy with directions. (My husband bought me a global positioning system and joked that if I got lost, it was now a customer-service issue, not his.) However, I can remember my village, those nearby, and how to navigate in and between them.

Of all the events in my life until then, the experiences of that summer are the most vivid. Zambia still tugs at my heart, but I was at a loss for how to reach out.

A source of recent inspiration for me is someone who devotes time to the HealthEd Connect Mentor Program. She works with orphaned children in Zambia. To bring awareness to her work and to raise money, she ran a marathon. I have never been a runner, but I decided I want to run a half marathon (because I’m only half-crazy) to raise money for this amazing program.

HealthEd Connect provides education, counseling, health education, and services that save lives in Zambia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nepal. My goal is to raise a specific amount of money. Even if I don’t reach my goal, every bit helps.

In my right hand, in that dank, dark cellar, I hold the jar labeled, “What do I have to offer?” In my left hand is the opened lid…excuses spilled onto the floor.

Prayer for Peace God of wisdom, help us discover in ourselves, a need to reach out to relieve suffering in the world. If we can’t run a marathon, God, help us run half a marathon for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Draw your mind to places where people have no homes. Think of refugees whose homes were destroyed by war or natural disaster. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will set a goal for supporting a worthy outreach program.

To Cry or to Scream?

Thursday, September 25

9-25By Glenn Johnson of Covina, California, USA

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…”

—Luke 4:18 NRSV

Sometimes injustice is obvious and so close that we want to cry out and to shout to God or anyone who will listen. It was my first time to drive the car as our congregation delivered “Wednesday love lunches” to the hungry among our friends without homes. I had no idea what to expect.

We drove behind a gas station, and Scott handed a sack lunch and a water bottle to David, a man in his 70s. He was in a wheelchair, his neck in a brace, both legs missing. How could it be that a man in this condition lived behind a gas station? I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream.

Then a man pushing a shopping cart slowly approached me on the driver’s side. “You’ll have to forgive me, I’m kind of slow,” he said. And then I saw he had only one leg and needed the shopping cart for support. Still bewildered, I handed him his lunch, and Scott directed me to our next stop.

Our 36 lunches were not enough to meet the needs we saw that day. Two people living without homes in our community had died just the week before.

Let us open our eyes to see the hidden injustices around us this day, and let us cry out that we might be mediators of God’s peace.

Prayer for Peace O God of justice, give us strength to serve and courage to cry out against injustices we see. Hear our prayers and bring us closer to the source of all peace so we might be voices for the afflicted.

Spiritual Practice: Voices of God What is the voice of God saying to us? Do we hear the whispers of God’s longing for shalom, God’s dream of beauty and wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the “voice” of God calling through faces and eyes, in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter, in silence and noise?

Spend a few moments reflecting on when and how God’s voice speaks to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the pursuit of peace and justice? How does that call to shalom continue to come to you through the many “voices” of God?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will raise my voice as well as my eyebrows when I see injustice.

A Little or a Lot—It Matters Not

Saturday, September 20

9-20By Mary Palko of Gladstone, Michigan, USA

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

—Mark12:42–44 NRSV

Several years ago, I considered myself privileged to attend a worship service in another congregation. It surprised me that it did not include a Disciple’s Generous Response or any offertory. Being a congregational financial officer in my home congregation, I wondered why. I had the opportunity to talk with the pastor after everyone left.

He told me that most people who attended the services come from low-income households—many below poverty level. He did not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, so he put the offering plate in a back corner of the church, where people discreetly could give their offerings.

The pastor was sincere in his concern for his congregation, but I would have chosen differently. I remembered the story of the widow’s mite and President Steve Veazey’s story about the little girl who was excited to place her postage stamp in the collection plate. The generosity of those considered financially poor continually astounds me. They, too, know the importance of sharing so no one goes without.

Knowing poverty firsthand, they know its heartbreak. They can choose to help abolish it. It provides the opportunity to give our offering of any size to receive blessing and to be a blessing. This joy is one we should not deny anyone.

Prayer for Peace God of the rich and the poor, bless us as we give what we can give. Whether we give a little or a lot—we know it will bless someone.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities of the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for a blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the Spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will honor the gifts of others.

A Good Day at School

Saturday, August 23

8-23By Sherri Kirkpatrick of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

…I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty…I can do all things through God who strengthens me.

—Philippians 4:11–13, NRSV adapted

While in Zambia, we met the new headmaster, hired for the Kasompe School, sponsored by HealthEd Connect. His obvious ability and passion impressed us. Then we met with the school board and learned something unexpected. A board member said, “We have a problem. The new headmaster cannot read or write.”

Trying to appear calm while inwardly panicking, I asked for confirmation, “Can’t read or write?”

“Yes, that is a problem,” replied the board member. “That is why he is teaching nursery rather than fourth grade.” I took a long pause to recover. Then I asked, “What is the reason he can’t read or write?”

“He broke his glasses and cannot see,” they told me. I sighed in relief! We can fix that. So, we decided to advance him his first paycheck so he could get his eyes examined again and buy new glasses—we hope sooner rather than later.

We moved on to everyday matters. The usual lunch at our schools in Zambia consists of porridge (made of cornmeal and soya flour) or nshima (thick cornmeal) and beans. Because it was the last day of school before vacation, there was a special meal!

Our good friend, Gershom, wrote, “It was a good celebration. Food was just enough for all the children, the cooks, and the staff. We had nshima, chicken, salad, rice, and potatoes. This was a wonderful experience for the schoolchildren. Parents who were present were happy, and children took home a favorite treat, orange soda, to share with their families.”

This meal was a generous offering of love. It took more than 20 cooks, working over wood and charcoal fires, to prepare the 165 meals for Kasompe School and 259 meals for Chipulukusu School. Gershom called it a wonderful day.

Prayer for Peace Generous God, we pray most gratefully for the plenty you provide. May we partake mindfully. May we use the strength we gain to share the peace of Christ around the world.

Spiritual Practice: Reflection on Hunger Reflect on all the people and work that make our bread possible. See and remember the farmers growing and harvesting the grain; the millers, bakers, transportation workers, and grocers. Offer a prayer of gratitude and blessing for all who work to make our food. Ask for compassion and courage to offer bread to all who hunger.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be content with what I have in preparation to share.

The Straw that Saved the Camel’s Back

Thursday, August 21

8-21By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. …So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. …As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. …May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

—Galatians 6:2, 10, 16, 18 NRSV

There is a saying, “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” This suggests that one too many burdens can break a person. Many times we may feel loaded with one “straw” too many. Other times someone may remove that “one-too-many straw” by sharing our burdens. Such a time occurred for me.

After an endless and exhausting list of tasks on my “to do” list, mowing the huge church lawn with the push mower in the heat of the summer afternoon was the dreaded “straw.” When I arrived at the church, however, another family was already there, mowing with a large riding mower. I doubt the family knew how much sharing this task meant. It was a blessing, and it saved this camel’s back.

Sharing a burden might appear only as an insignificant task—small and light as a straw. But it could be the significant straw that saves us.

Prayer for Peace Loving God, who sent a Savior to ease our burdens, we would ease burdens also. Help us be mindful of opportunities to share sorrows, to live life with the suffering, to uplift spirits by sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Direct your mind to places where people have no homes. Think of the wars and natural disasters that destroy the homes of refugees. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying, “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be the hands of Jesus for a burdened soul.