In the time between last week’s Gospel and the passage we read today, Jesus predicts that his 12 disciples will face challenges as they set out to proclaim the kingdom of heaven—communities will not accept them and even their families will turn their backs.

In light of the challenges they are to face, Jesus shares words of comfort and reassurance with his disciples. In today’s Gospel, Matthew recites these words to remind us that God is always nearby—no matter where our journey leads us. He’s our guide in times of uncertainty, our light in darkness, and our advocate in persecution. God is our protector.

But there are moments along each of our journeys when God calls on us to be the protectors—to surrender ourselves to others.

Nearly one year ago, CMMB volunteer and engineer Martin Rubino said goodbye to Nzara, South Sudan—a once unfamiliar place that he and his wife had come to call home. At the time of his goodbye, Martin was preparing to reunite with his wife and welcome their first child into the world.

Martin holds baby Max in front of the hospital

Martin and Max in front of the hospital in South Sudan

On this Father’s Day we celebrate Martin and the words he shared during his final weeks in South Sudan. In a powerful reflection, Martin describes the moments along his journey where God called on him to surrender himself to others and the joy he he’s discovered along the way.

Things have come full circle. It is just one cycle in a countless succession of rainy and dry seasons, and yet I have seen many changes. There are three new buildings at St. Therese Hospital, under whose roofs we now take shelter when the thunderstorms come. I too have changed over the course of this year. I arrived an outsider, and the workers and I were both at times unsure of each other. Many of my methods were as unfamiliar to them as theirs were to me. A year has seen a bond forged by working together day in and day out, sharing in toils and frustrations, as well as moments of pride and accomplishment.

It is with a heavy heart that I now leave the project. The knowledge that my fellow colleagues are continuing on with one less member saddens me.

But, in rejoining my wife Sarah as she prepares to deliver our first child, I am reminded that all of life is a continual surrendering. There was a surrender when Sarah and I left family, friends, and work to come to Nzara. Likewise there is a surrender now that I must uproot myself from a place I have grown very fond of and a project that has become part of my everyday life. And, if I can be sure of one thing, it is that new surrenders await Sarah and myself as we welcome a baby and navigate the uncertain course of our future.

St. Ignatius has written much on the sense of detachment, openness, and discernment we must strive for as we set out and are led along our journeys. These concepts are difficult enough to fully understand, much less to implement practically and with confidence. Yet somehow it is linked to our relationship with a God whom we believe emptied himself completely out of love (Phil 2:7). Sarah and I are deeply grateful to CMMB for the opportunity that has been given to us and the unflagging support and understanding which they have shown.

In grace and peace,

Bruce Wilkinson signature

Bruce Wilkinson

President & CEO, CMMB

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