Lent Devotions: Finding healing in community

March 14, 2017

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). 

By Rev. David Ezekiel

Luke 5: 17-26

God Grew Tired of Us is a fascinating documentary that traces the perilous journey of John Bul Dau, Daniel Pach, and Panther Bior, three of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. John’s boyhood was spent tending his family’s cattle, but the Sudanese civil war of the 1980s destroyed his village, killed many of the adults, and forced the rest to become refugees. Thousands of mostly teenagers from the Dinka and Nuer tribes embarked upon a 5-year, thousand-mile odyssey of escape. During the course of their grueling ordeal, 10,000 or more died or were kidnapped.

About 8,000 finally reached the safety of a settlement compound in Kenya. The Clinton administration was petitioned to accept the refugees on compassionate grounds whereupon the US agreed to receive 3,600, which included John, Daniel, and Panther. Upon arrival in the US, these three set about assisting their adopted, extended family left behind in Kenya.  John, in particular, has been raising and sending funds back to the Sudan to build a clinic so that persons would have access to medical care.

To John and others in Dinka culture, family and the care of neighbors is central. He told an interviewer that “if somebody got sick in the village, twelve or eighteen guys would carry them to the hospital 75 miles away.  Half would lock arms and carry the person, then they would rotate, so they could always keep running.”[i]  What an image: persons linked arm-in-arm carrying “a sick villager to the hospital, taking turns carrying so the urgent pace could be maintained and the patient brought to the place of healing, healing that began with the love and compassion and concern of the community.”[ii]  Despite the adversity and the obstacles, John and the others are still carrying one another to a place of healing. 

Linger upon that imagery in your mind and heart. Take a few moments to remember a time in which you experienced adversity or brokenness.  Now ask, “When I needed help, what community carried me in love to a place of healing?”  ake a moment to give thanks for that community of concern. 

Return to that image of persons linked arm-in-arm and hold it once again in your heart and mind.  Now, ask yourself, “Who am I helping to carry in love to a place of healing?”  Take a moment to give thanks for that community with whom you are a partner in ministry.  Take another moment to offer a prayer for the person or persons being carried and ask God to bless them with the healing that they need.

We accomplish so much more together in community than we can by ourselves, especially for:

  • those entangled in a travel ban that severely restricts asylum seekers and refugee resettlement;
  • those being uprooted and deported to a place that is no longer their home;
  • those facing the loss of access to good, affordable healthcare;
  • those rendered vulnerable because of the abdication of responsibility and commitment of Federal and local governments to protect human rights.

In community, we can traverse huge distances, endure hardships, and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to attain healing, experience forgiveness, and ultimately find love.  When it occurs, people are amazed and glorify God. 

i John Buchanan, The Healer, a sermon preached at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL, on Feb 11, 2007, citing the New York Times, December 20, 2006.
ii Ibid.   

Rev. David Ezekiel is San Francisco Theological Seminary Ford Fellow for Congregational Studies and Evangelism.

Take a few moments to remember a time in which you experienced adversity or brokenness. 

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.


Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017


From the Blog