Barriers...everywhere you are in Niger, one experiences barriers!! There are many barriers for security at the hospital. On the home front there are barriers on windows and doors for protection too. I must say that I do not feel unsafe here at all. Perhaps the barriers give a sense of security...being hedged in?
However, the barriers that are not material are the ones that are the most difficult to get through. What do I mean?
- barriers of language....French and many tribal languages
- barriers of culture...European, Canadian, American, Nigerien, Mali, North Africa...
- barriers of economics....poverty and wealth
- barriers of clothing.....uniforms, burkas and various African costumes
- barriers of education.....educated and uneducated, professional, laborer etc.
- barriers of position....nurse, doctor, taxi driver, security guard, kitchen worker, patient
- barriers of religion....Muslim, traditional religions, Christianity and denominational divisions, too!
- opening doors-hospitality
- shaking of hands to greet one another even if I don't know the words
- conversation in my broken French...any effort on my part is rewarded with kindness and respect
- food...nothing breaks down barriers like free food!
- understanding, acceptance and honest inquisitiveness
- sharing similarities like motherhood and care for children, grandchildren and the elderly
- playing a game.....cars, pitch and catch, tag, dollies....
- mutual projects....a task, a nursing skill.....building, operating, fixing, cleaning
- communicating...with words if necessary!
- giving gifts
- art and music
These are barrier busters that I have seen which open the door for relationships to develop over time. It is easy coming from the USA to want to blast in and breakdown the barriers in our efficient way.....after all aren't we so intelligent and have the answers to most world problems....or at least we throw some supplies and money at the barriers and hope that all will be well?You know me, it is my desire to develop relationships and partner with people to obtain and sustain a mutual goals with respect to nursing education and patient care. In this sense, I am trying to break down barriers every day at the hospital here in Niger. It is normal in every culture to have barriers to break down to facilitate working relationships. Some obstacles for coming together are harder to break down than others. It is such a blessing to be received joyfully and respectfully in spite of these many barriers.
The Bible talks about barriers that are humanly speaking impossible to break down. In the book of Ephesians the apostle Paul speaks of a wall of hostility between two people groups...the Jewish People and Gentiles. The great gap between these people was closed by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His death on the cross broke down the barrier between Jewish and Gentile people. More importantly, Jesus Christ bridged the gap, broke down the barrier between sinful people and Holy God. This is true and wonderful reconciliation at its finest!!
For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us....He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups....Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought the Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done. (Ephesians 2:14-18)
This fuels my passion! Please pray for God's strength to do this work His way and for His honor....to make His name great at CURE!!