Week of October 5 (Pentecost 17)
Scripture: Philippians 3:4b-14
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
PWRDF Story ““ The Gift of Life: PWRDF’s Maternal Newborn and Child Health Work by Suzanne Rumsey, Public Engagement Program Coordinator
On April 24, 2004, at the age of 40, my life was profoundly transformed when I gave birth to my son, Robin. It wasn’t Paul’s Road to Damascus transformational encounter with Christ. But when Robin’s head crowned, the doctor told me to reach down, grab him under his little armpits and pull him up onto my chest. As I did so, we stared briefly into one another’s eyes and I glimpsed God smiling out at me through this new life that was mine to love.
The journey to conception had been long and difficult; made possible finally, by in vitro fertilization. Pregnancy at 40 posed its challenges and labour was long and painful, but for a time, as my baby lay on my chest, I forgot, to paraphrase Paul, “what lay behind and began thinking about what lay ahead.” Ten years on, I continue to glimpse God smiling out at me through Robin.
My journey to motherhood was made possible because I was blessed to have access to some of the most advanced reproductive technology and one of the best health care systems in the world. In far too many places in the world far too many women die due to complications in childbirth, and far too many babies and young children die from preventable diseases. PWRDF, with support from the Canadian government’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Initiative (also known as the Muskoka Initiative), seeks to respond to this situation through our partners, and to transform the lives of women and their children in a number of innovative ways:
- Mozambique: Women were dying because they had to walk 25 km or more to the health clinic in 40°C+ heat when they went into labour. PWRDF’s partner, SALAMA, came up with an idea to create bicycle ambulances which transport the women to Mothers-in-Waiting houses built near the clinics so they can rest before giving birth. (see Prayer Cycle for the week of February 16)
- Bangladesh: PWRDF partner, UBINIG, has complimented its bicycle ambulances with boat ambulances, a necessity in this very wet county. In Bangladesh, the bicycle ambulance is built differently, with a larger back section that can carry not only the patient but also a midwife to accompany her to the clinic. (See Prayer Cycle for the week of May 25)
- Mexico: As in Mozambique and Bangladesh (and throughout the world) midwives and community health workers play a crucial role in the lives and health of women in Mexico’s indigenous communities. In addition to training, PWRDF partner, K’inal Antzetik provides support to indigenous midwives through advocacy with the Mexican government to ensure that indigenous women’s right to health care is realized. (See Prayer Cycle for the week of May 11)
- Canada: In October 2013 PWRDF and partners from Bangladesh and South Africa played a key role at Impact 2025, in Ottawa. Organized by the Canadian MNCH Network, the event brought together health professionals, academic researchers, international NGOs and government representatives to examine lessons learned from engagement with local communities, and to look beyond the 2015 end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards 2025 and the next steps needed to achieve MDG 4 (reduce child mortality by 2/3) and MDG 5 (improve maternal health by reducing maternal mortality by 75%).
For Reflection: Many of us have had Road to Damascus moments or, as they are sometimes called in today’s secular world, “Ah Ha” moments. They are times when we are invited to see the world, or the person right in front of us, or ourselves, in new ways. They can happen in childbirth, or riding one’s bike down the street, in the midst of a big, noisy city, or under a star-filled sky in the middle of nowhere. When have you experienced such a moment? What did it reveal to you? And how did it transform you?
Concluding Prayer: Lullaby by the Dixie Chicks
They didn’t have you where I come from
Never knew the best was yet to come
Life began when I saw your face
And I hear your laugh like a serenade
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up
I slip in bed when you’re asleep
To hold you close and feel your breath on me
Tomorrow there’ll be so much to do
So tonight I’ll drift in a dream with you
As you wander through this troubled world
In search of all things beautiful
You can close your eyes when you’re miles away
And hear my voice like a serenade