Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Rev. Kimberly Burke

Today, I am honored to feature the last in a series of four guest posts from Rev. Kimberly Burke in which she relates her experiences as a missionary in Uganda, Africa under the umbrella of Tree of Life Ministries. Rev. Burke serves First United Methodist Church in Boerne, Texas as Associate Pastor. I am honored to also call her my friend.

Click on the appropriate link to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

In Christ There is No East or West

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

In Him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord,
Close binding humankind.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!
Who serves my Father as His child
Is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet North and South;
All Christly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.

John Oxenham 1908

Finally, there is a sense and practice of gratitude and thanksgiving in the East that I have not encountered before. My sisters and brothers in Africa seem to view everything as a great gift in which they give God the glory.  They truly understand that everything they have comes from God.  I witnessed gratitude and honor to God for things that I daily take for granted.  A potato for the day, an unexpected gift, a visit from a friend, a well in a community that brings fresh water, a child given the opportunity to go to school, a pair of shoes, a mosquito net, seeds for planting, a song for singing, a vitamin, the ability to teach and learn, a bible, a church to worship in, friendship and community.  I wonder what you hope for, what you depend on and what you are grateful for.  I wonder how you express that.  I wonder when you have felt so overcome with joy that you set your feet to dancing.

I wanted to cling to the Eastern way of living a Christian life.  I felt like it would slip away if I left this place, returning to my complacency.  Some might ask, don’t you appreciate all that is so plentiful in the West? I certainly do.  Don’t you think there is enough suffering and poverty here to tend to? Yes I do.  I have read thousands of statistics over the years about poverty, death, infant mortality in the third world.  But I must admit I had a deep sense of shame for all the waste in my own life.  I still don’t understand why some live in a mud hut and some live in a mansion with rooms they never use.  Why some starve while others throw away food? Why one country has so much and another so little.  I think God would ask us the same questions.  I no longer have statistics and national geographic images in my head, because I have spied with my little eye.  In the Gospel of John, Andrew and (Cephas) Peter followed Jesus.  Jesus turned to them and asked, “What are you looking for? “ They said, “Where are you staying?”  Jesus said, “Come and See.” (John 1:37-39) I for one learned more about living a true life of grace, dependence, joy, faith and love in the two weeks I spent on the red planet than I have experienced in my entire lifetime.  I pray that I can hold on to it. I pray that I can truly live it.  I pray that I will not forget that we are one planet in various stages of healing.  I am grateful to my sisters in Uganda for being such great missionaries to me.

Special note: Several of our readers have expressed an interest in donating to this ministry or sponsoring a child. To find out more please visit Tree of Life Ministries here


  1. Kathy, thank you for allowing me to share my experiences in Africa. May you and yours have a wonderful thanksgiving!

  2. Thank you for these wonderful, inspirational posts! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well. Go Longhorns!