Fasting, a story by Timothy Seitz-Brown

Fasting, a story by Timothy Seitz-Brown April 6, 2011

From Timothy Seitz-Brown and here’s Timothy’s blog:

Fourth of July weekend, 2000… hot dogs, hamburgers, and BBQ chicken on the grill. Over by the pool, my oldest son, CJ, undergoes a metamorphosis, turning into a deathly pale ghost. We take his temperature, and it is in the triple digits–105 degrees. And now, pardon the image, he becomes a vomit factory in addition to a ghost.

Ann, my wife, calls the doctor. We get an emergency on-call appointment with the physician. Unfortunately, the doctor struggles with the diagnosis until—it hits us—it might be malaria. Sure enough, the doctor runs the blood tests and CJ tests positive for the Big M.

Our family (yours truly, Ann, CJ at twelve, Marybeth at eight, and Jeremy at four) had recently returned home from a year in Tanzania, serving as Global Mission Volunteers for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the Konde Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. Ann taught biology while I taught Bible knowledge at the Manow Lutheran Seminary, a high school run by the diocese.

The light bulb had gone on. We realized that CJ must have contracted malaria on the way home, probably in the “malaria capital of the world,” a town called Morogoro. So our family doctor prescribed anti-malaria medication. And CJ got better temporarily; for a few weeks he seemed to be recovering. But then malaria mugged him again.  And then a second time, and later, for a third time, when it was much worse.

Through a college friend of Ann’s, we were able to get CJ’s blood tested at the National Institute of Health, the world experts on malaria. The results came back. It wasn’t good. CJ had four different strains, including plasmodium falciparum, or cerebral malaria—the kind that can kill you. So the NIH bigwigs faxed CJ’s doctor, suggesting another medication.

I slept with CJ for the next three nights in the Ephrata Community Hospital in Pennsylvania while he received medicine through an IV. Looking around at all the equipment in his hospital room, I wept with thanks and grief. I was thankful because CJ was receiving excellent care and getting better. Yet I grieved because I knew that thousands and thousands of children would die that year from malaria because they did not have the same care. Poverty meant they could never afford the same treatment.

I tell you this story because I have been fasting for the past week. In the past seven days, I have consumed five meals. I have a routine going. I fast for 24 hours, followed by eating a small meal, usually rice and beans, then fasting again. And I am not fasting alone. See David Beckmann or Jim Wallis. They are fasting, too, [and they’re joined by five thousand others].

We are fasting because Congress and the Obama administration are planning to cut the federal budget, targeting the first cuts at the ones who are already hurting the most!

Last week, Rajiv Shah, US AID administrator, testified before a House panel, saying that because of these cuts malaria control programs will have to be scaled back, and 30,000 children will die next year because of under funding. Please hear me. I agree that we need fiscal responsibility. Yes, the budget needs to be cut. But I protest starting with the most hurting people first!

In 2009. I read Scot McKnight’s book in the Ancient Spiritual Practices series, titled Fasting: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series). In the book he talks about an A, B, and sometimes C pattern. First, there is A: a grievous, sacred event. Second, this leads to, B, a whole body prayer response, fasting. On occasion, not always, and certainly never as a manipulation of God, there is C, a positive outcome that follows A and B. For me, the “grievous, sacred event” is the choice of our elected leaders to slash programs that keep the vulnerable from going under.

Therefore, along with 5,000 others, I am mourning. I am hungering for what is right. I am thirsting for what is just. I am praying for what is merciful (Matthew 5:4, 6, 7).  I am fasting to say that we should not begin the budget cuts with the people who are hurting the most (see Isaiah 58:3-6; Matthew 6:16-18, 25:31-46).

I believe that through the death and resurrection of Christ we are set free to love. Loved people, love people, Forgiven people, forgive people. Fed people, feed people. And, treasured people, treasure people. Of course, I naturally treasure my son, CJ, providing the best medical care for him. And, because of Christ, I hope  we can treasure everyone, everywhere as precious, too.

Please consider joining this fast. See here and here for more information on this fast.

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