“What you have given us is even more important than the food we eat … We shall eat of it day and night.” These were the words of one patient at an ARV clinic (providing specialist medical treatment for people with HIV/ AIDS) in Gaborone in response to receiving a Bible. “The Bible is a very precious gift … we are going to use it. We don’t have a Bible in the house,” said another. Such comments were common amongst the 250 patients who were given Bibles across 6 clinics in Gaborone (Phase 2 Clinic, Naledi Clinic, Bontleng Clinic, Broadhurst 3 Clinic, Broadhurst Traditional Clinic and Nkoyaphiri Clinic).
The distributions were organised by Flying Mission Care Ministries and took place between Monday the 16th and Wednesday the 18th December. Each clinic commenced with a worship song at around 7:20am. This was followed by a prayer, a scripture reading and a short devotional message presented and translated by members of the Flying Mission team. After a brief introduction by the team to our purpose for coming, the team distributed Setswana and English language bibles to the patients. What a privilege to be allowed into the clinics to give the gift of God’s word!
We are grateful to those who donated to this project and enabling the Bibles to be purchased; without their generosity the distribution could not have taken place. We are also grateful to the personnel from different departments in Flying Mission who helped with the distributions at each clinic. Their presence, the devotions they brought, as well as the Bibles they handed out, were greatly appreciated by those who received them.
Flying Mission has for many years distributed Bibles at the Princess Marina Hospital at Christmas but this year, as the hospital had received a large donation of Bibles from another source during November, it was decided we should distribute Bibles elsewhere. This is what led us to distributing at the ARV clinics this year. This prospect became even more exciting to us with the realisation that there would be greater opportunities to follow up and build relationship with patients receiving Bibles as they regularly attend the same clinics. We have been especially encouraged by the positive response from the Ministry of Health to our coming as well as staff at the clinics; there is a clear desire from them for this to be more than a one off activity and would like to see it grow. The only criticism expressed across the 6 clinics was; “We need more Bibles” and this was often followed by the question “When can you come again?”
This brought to mind a devotional reading that had been used during the Flying Mission prayer time a couple of days earlier. The devotion was based on John 4:35, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest”, and challenged us that the crops may no longer be ripe in the field but ‘rotting’ because no one has come to harvest them. The response from patients, their desire to have a bible, for people to explain how to read it, and for regular devotions at the clinics shows the harvest is ripe and we need to take action to ensure this is harvested and not left ‘rotting in the field’.
Flying Mission Care Ministries is considering possibilities for following up with patients they have already engaged with and ways to expand the programme and to link it with with other ministries so that they can reach more people, not just with the gift of scripture but also with support and help as they engage with it, perhaps explore Christianity for the first time or are seeking to grow in their faith, knowledge and understanding.
Please pray for the patients who received Bibles that they would read them, come into relationship with God and/or grow in that relationship. Please pray for the Flying Mission Care Ministries team as they seek to discern how best to follow up with patients, develop relationships with them and the clinics, and how to take the programme forward.