September 17, 2007

In Real Life

One of the struggles I’ve always had in reading the stories of the New Testament is that the context seems so foreign. The story of the Good Samaritan really only makes sense when we understand the outcast status of Samaritans. The significance of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples makes most sense when we understand how filthy feet were seen to be in his time. Our modern, 21st century world is at quite a remove from the world Jesus knew and so we are forced to turn to Bible commentaries and the like to learn about the context of his world before we can truly understand his teachings.

What’s been neat for me about Itipini is that the context is much closer to Jesus’ world than it is to the developed world I know best. So, for instance, there really are women at wells in Itipini (actually, faucets but close enough) and while I wouldn’t drink the water if they offered it, it is neat to be in the position of standing around a faucet with women waiting for water, though I still don’t understand what they are saying. A big part of my job seems to be bandaging wounds, frequently on the feet, as footwear is sparse and Itipini is an unforgiving environment. As I clean the patients’ wounds, I think of the people in the New Testament who washed feet for each other. If we’re supposed to do what Christ did, I find I am in situations that are almost literally – and not just metaphorically – the same as situations he confronted. (Of course, being in the same situation doesn’t mean I act the same way. Just that the possibility exists. There’s still the matter of my sinful and fallen nature to overcome.)

Of course, what I can’t do is perform miracles, though I would love to. There have been several people I have seen who are in such pain and all I can do is help alleviate some of the symptoms. Jesus would have touched them and all would have been well. The children have peanut butter and bread for snack every afternoon and I wish I could be like Jesus and turn the eight loaves and three jars into enough for everyone in Itipini.


Stephen said...

You know I wouldn't be so sure you are not preforming miracles. Maybe not the same as the Messiah but miracles all the same. By the way I have peanut butter and bread for a snack almost every afternoon as well, what a coincidence. Much Love.