Sermon Summary from May 22: “Maggie” (Read Mark 1:40-42; 10:46-52)
I don’t know about you, but I find myself overwhelmed by the challenges of the world and the inadequacies of our response. We can put our finger anywhere on the globe: 66 dead in the Mediterranean, 5 million refugees in the Middle East. And we can place our finger in the center of Africa and find untold problems. Do you know that in the area of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda from 1993 to 2005 over 5.4 million people were killed in civil war? More people that in any other conflict since WWII. I didn’t know. Maybe we as Americans don’t care what happens there. But I’m glad that I belong to the body of Christ where people do care.
This sermon falls into the category of “See where God is working in the world and join in.” We may be overwhelmed. We may not know what to do, but we can look to see where God is working and join in. What you are about to see is the story about Margarete Barankitse, “Maggie.” If you don’t catch it, she was a secretary in a church. It’s amazing who God uses. I caught this story two weeks ago when she was given the first annual “Aurora Award for Awakening Humanity.”
The video you’ll see was from 2008. You remember the genocide in 1993? Maggie happens to be Tutsi, working in a church where the priests and the nuns were Hutu. They did not survive. Just a church secretary, but a Christian who has changed the world.
That was 2008. Since then the hospital is finished, the biggest hospital in Burundi. Want to know how the hospital was built? Asked how she was going to fund it, she said, “God is rich. He will help.” The next year she was given the World Award for Children by the Queen of Sweden. She built the hospital.
And homes. She decided she didn’t want an orphanage, she wanted homes so she found houses and trained foster parents. The says the kids have a future because when they leave school they say, “We go home now.” Her program is called Maison Shalom, “House of peace.” Peace, not the absence of conflict but a place of harmony. And she believes in the dignity of people. She equips them for life and tells them to “Stand up.” “We want people to help themselves in order to change their lives.” “Dignity is love. Humiliation is evil.”
See where God is working and join in. I would like you to think about this: Who would Margarete Barankitse be without the church? Who would have taught her that the “Vocation of Christians is to love”? Without the church, who would have taught her about the dignity of human life? She and the church are not just saving children, but giving them dignity. Equipping them by giving them a home, educating them to stand up, providing microloans for economic development, providing medical care to sustain them and bring new generations into the world. Such a program is also being done by Keith Jaspers, United Methodist lay person with Rainbow Network.
We cannot all be Maggie Barankitses or Keith Jaspers, maybe none of us. Yet at one point a single Christian came alongside each one of them and through the faith they passed on, tens of thousands of children have been helped. When we see someone like them making a difference in the name of Christ, it is our turn to come along aside and join in. May it be so with all of us. Amen.