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« Re-Appropriating the term Evangelical - is it worth it? | Main | On fire! »
Friday
Aug202010

A long journey in the same direction

For me the journey began late one Thursday evening, on the 16th of November 2006 to be exact.

Megan had been in and out of hospital for about two weeks, at about 25 weeks of pregnancy with our second child, Liam. That evening, just as Courtney and I arrived home after visiting her in Hospital, the phone rang to say that she was giving birth... Liam was on his way, a full 13 weeks early.

I hurriedly took Courtney to our friend Madika Sibeko who lived down the road from us and rushed to the Pretoria East Hospital. By the time I got there Megan was already in the delivery ward, and with less than an hour little Liam was born - 1.16kg's at birth.

From there Megan went into theatre for surgery and Liam and I went into the neonatal ICU. He was very frail.

My father-in-law, Brian, started the journey for me the next day. On Friday the 17th of November 2006 he phoned me to say that he would fast each Friday until Liam came out of hospital. I joined him. Liam came out of hospital 3 months later and I continued the simple spiritual discipline of fasting each Friday.

At first I fasted to be constantly reminded to pray for my son, but over a period of 3 months spending most nights at the hospital I got to know the pain and struggle of many other parents whose babies faced some health challenge. Some survived. Others did not. So, I started using the hunger pangs of that one day - not a huge sacrifice - to remind me to pray for others.

Last year I extended my fast - as I was working on a series of articles on suffering and HIV/AIDS for books and scholarly journals I came to realise that that the majority of South Africans subsist on only one meal a day. So, in order to identify with the struggle of those who cannot choose what to eat, and when to eat, I decided to live on only 1 meal a day from Pentecost for the next 9 months. I used the time and money that I would have spent on my own food to pray for, and practically bless, others. It was a remarkable spiritual journey that has given me a completely new insight into what it means to have to go through the tasks of the day with an empty stomach.

I deliberately chose only to eat in the evening - this meant that I would awake hungry and go into the day, going to work, going into meetings, sitting among people who were eating, and I would do it with an empty stomach. I cannot adequately explain how my prayer life and practical outreach was enriched through this simple discipline. The insights gained prompted me to generosity on numerous occasions - giving away money, food and possessions (in my case mostly 'gadgets' of which I have far too many!).

And so, today I am fasting once again as I have done for the past 4 years. I'm sorry to say that my son Liam is not well at the moment - so please do join me in praying for him. However, I am also aware that today there are many parents who sit next to incubators and hospital beds worried to death about their children. There are even more people who awoke this morning having gone to bed without food.

There is work to be done! It is our work to do! Let's transform the world and start by making a difference where we are.

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness [a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Is 58.6-10

Please consider joining me in this 'long journey in the same direction'. Let's walk together to loose the chains of injustice in the world. This is part of the core of the Gospel of Christ.

Reader Comments (5)

We will pray with you (and for you) today my friend.
Blessings
Delme

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDelme

I am deeply challenged by your example-and will pray for Liam-Trevor

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor@nfmc.org.za

i'm always excited to learn to be practical in faith. your friday fasting journey is something that inspires me. a sick child remains a challenge, but through faith and patience you can expect positive results. i'll pray with you.

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternic slabber

Thanks for the comments friends. I appreciate the companionship and Megan and I appreciate your prayers for little Liam.

Nic, I'll be preaching in your neck of the woods on Sunday morning - Paarl Methodist Church.

Rich blessing!

Dion

August 20, 2010 | Registered CommenterDr Dion Forster

A quick bit of feedback. I'm pleased to say that both Megan and Liam are on the road to recovery!

Thank you for your prayers! Megie's surgery came back with encouraging news. She will be well. Liam battled with various infections for a week, but he is full of beans again! Lively and well!

We are so thankful!

Rich blessing,

Dion

August 26, 2010 | Registered CommenterDr Dion Forster

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