Thursday, October 05, 2000

On Safari with The Push Me – Pull Me of Africa

The pressures of ministry

I visited the National Museum of Zambia in Livingston. There I saw stuffed lions, snakes, and the fish of the rivers of that part of Africa. I even saw a stuffed armored ant eater that looked like it came from the prehistoric era. But I did not see the elusive Push Me – Pull Me of Africa.

One sighting was during the Abundant Life Crusade clinic. 12:30 PM – clinic had been going from 11 AM, with a start time of one hour late. We were already one half hour late for lunch. And yet there was a line of patients with our health advocate students waiting to be seen. There was another line of people who through stealth joined the queue to see the doctor & nurse from America. And then there was the line outside the tent of expectant mothers with children, the elderly, all waiting that they too could have access to the free American medical handouts. And there was a fourth line around Pastor Peter with very vocal people demanding that he give them access to our medical team.

Balance boundaries were pushed aside. There in the "Ark", the blue & white tent, behind the makeshift walls within its quilt of maize bags I saw the African Push Me – Pull Me. It was behind Pastor Peter – and I don’t even think that he saw it. Others tried to point it out to him, but I don’t think he saw it.

“Can you please see these patients? We started one hour late, and the people are complaining that I do not let them see the doctor.” Pastor Peter pleaded.

The Push Me – Pull Me actually now had Pastor Peter in its mouth.
“I’ve promised the people. If we could see 20 – 30 more patients. You don’t understand the pressure I’m under.”

Pastor Peter wiggled, and squirmed trying to get away, but the African Push Me – Pull Me would not let go.

“I have to stay here, and when you leave and go back to America, I’ll be the most hated person. I’ll hear about it, after you leave. Please will you see just these people?”

Consultation. Negotiation with the doctor & I.
How many more?
What do we do?
The Push Me – Pull Me was tearing the Pastor up.
We had to act fast.

We adjusted the schedule: we’d skip our lunch break and have Miss Sybil & food crew bring us our lunches, and see patients for one more hour till 1:30 PM. Then it was class time

Where do we get the time?

The previously scheduled house call appointment at 3:30 PM would have to be canceled.
Dr. John and I turn back to the African Push Me – Pull Me, and Pastor Peter, who was in its mouth. “Pastor, we will see patients for one more hour. But Pastor, because you let the Push Me – Pull Me inside, we will not be able to see the 3:30 PM patient.”

Pastor Peter's face fell. He now noticed his precarious location inside the Push Me – Pull Me’s mouth.

“But that’s my wife, and my family. That was their time with the MD, and I’m getting sick too!”

By letting the others in line, you’ve forced your family out of line. The "pull" of the people "pushed" out his own family.

Now saw the elusive African Push Me – Pull Me. But alas, it was too late