Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire, Levi, Josie and baby Jane

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Black Mamba and Discipleship


Tabasco, a relative "lightweight" in the heat index, but still a classic.


Impressive, but not quite living up to its name.


Heavyweight, essentially "on fire."  Dangerous to children, pets and "sensitive areas" as the warning label below indicates. 


At first glance, I thought this warning label was a joke; but I can assure you, it is not.


The men's intern and resident bible study where one of the first questions asked each time is "Where is the Black Mamba?"


Every other week, approximately 20 interns, residents and consultants gather for our ongoing men’s bible study.  Because many of these trainees work long hours and have limited time to prepare food, we (the missionaries) regularly provide a meal for the study (usually some sort of stew with rice, chapatti and slaw).  Early on in the study, I introduced my Kenyan brothers to a little bit of classic Americana: Tabasco sauce (of note, Kenyans do not generally prefer spicy food).   Dr. Russ White, always the instigator and never wanting to be outdone, then introduced a hot sauce boldly entitled “100% Pain”.  The sauce was indeed hot, but I taunted Russ by saying the product was mere “child’s play.”  Then few months later, he kicked it up a notch and brought out this tiny, little bottle of sauce (that actually had a warning label on it) composed of a few simple ingredients: chocolate habanero peppers and concentrated capsaicin.  I thought the name of the sauce, “Black Mamba,” was intriguing and quite apropos for our study, as this snake is both indigenous to Kenya and highly venomous.  I started with a scant 3 drops on my plate of food, and noticed out of the corner of my eye the devious, slight smile on Russ’ face.   A few bites into my food, feeling suddenly flushed and sweaty, I discovered the general principle that degree of heat is inversely proportional to the size of the bottle.  “I’m going to pay for this later,” I kept thinking to myself as I stubbornly finished my plate to the laugher of the entire group.  Of course, I received no sympathy from my wife the next day, who just rolled her eyes with every complaint of severe abdominal cramping. 
One of the best parts of being a medical missionary is the opportunity to disciple the interns and residents who train at Tenwek - men who will be the future leaders of medicine in East Africa.  We just finished a study on the “good kings of Judah” and are now in the book of Daniel, our goal being to study the men in scripture who were themselves leaders, whether good or bad, in order to learn from their lives, their victories and mistakes.  A continual theme in our study is that “life is short” and therefore we must use our God-given gifts to serve others, thus fulfilling the law of Love in Christ.  Their spiritual (and physical) hunger is amazing, and while the missionaries provide the meal, the interns and residents do all the leading of discussion and hosting.   At times, when I am alone in the morning praying, meditating and reading, I am overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness for the privilege of being a small part of something great that God is doing, best summarized in the Tenwek mission statement: “compassionate healthcare, spiritual ministry and training for service.”
Thank you for all your support of our family.  Please pray for these leaders as we continue to teach and train, not only in medical education, but also in spiritual formation.