Today’s reading comes from a chapter in Matthew’s Gospel. It is one of the rare occasions where he writes of Jesus directly referencing the Church.

According to Matthew, Jesus does so to teach us about overcoming disputes within our church community. The reality of conflict is not one that Jesus discourages, but prepares us for with the steps to address, learn, and move on.

At the very core of this lesson is the reconciliation process Jesus lays out for us. It is also, the understanding that God remains our guide through any conflict. If we put our faith in Jesus and share our prayers, God will help no matter the circumstance.

Conflict is never ideal, but with it comes an opportunity: When we open ourselves up to resolution, we might just come to understand a new idea, perspective or strategy. After working across different countries and cultures for over a century, we’ve learned a lot about the beauty that comes when we open ourselves up to something new—even if it’s hard at first.

Martin holds baby Max in front of the hospital

Martin and Max in front of the hospital in South Sudan

Long-term volunteer Martin Rubino experienced this firsthand while leading the construction of three new buildings at St. Therese Hospital in Nzara, South Sudan. Today, the project is complete, but it didn’t come without challenges.

Trained as an engineer in the U.S, Martin brought to South Sudan a set of standards, strategies, and methods. He had expectations for things like the size of the bricks he would build with and the patterns in which they would be laid. But he very quickly realized that the local contractors, masons, and builders had their own set of trusted standards and methods.

In the words below, Martin reflects on the experience of accepting new perspectives and his extending trust to others. You can read his full reflection on our blog.

It is difficult, even painful to break away from the sense of comfort one derives from the calculated methodology of building codes and industry standards. Though oftentimes wearisome, they provide the assurance that things get built in a manner that has been worked out and refined over many years. In that world bricks are tested and rated. Proper masonry techniques are expounded on in pages of literature. Concrete trucks pour precise mixes. Diagrams, charts, tables, and appendices abound. We cling to these commandments, and for very good reason. Only, maybe good buildings can also exist in other worlds, like the growing hospital in Nzara, South Sudan.

In grace and peace,


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