Almost two years ago, I made a naive inquiry into an internship with an organization I knew very little about. Thankfully, humankind’s naivety is fraught with God’s sovereign will. I had become a Christian in college and strove to bring my life and ambitions in conformity with cruciform discipleship. My dreams of pursuing training in medicine for status, money, power, and pride were irrevocably abandoned in the baptismal waters. Raised to life was a deep concern for the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed. Like a good American Evangelical—armed only with a bible and a prayer—I was ready to take on the world and boldly go where no human had gone before... to practice medicine among the poor.
That’s when I found CCHF. Whether it was God or Google, I am not sure; all I know is that I stumbled onto this website of a group in Chicago (CCHF) that seemed to embody everything I felt called to pursue. Luckily for me, there was an available intern position. I applied and was accepted. A few short months later, I was in Chicago. Suddenly I found that “where no human had gone before" was in fact a well-worn path.
My short summer with CCHF was deeply formative. I was greeted with the exceedingly generous hospitality of the Wilcoxen Family-White folk that took John Perkins and Tony Campolo seriously. While I had just begun to think about what it would mean to live in solidarity with systematically oppressed peoples, the Wilcoxen family invited me into their home to see what it looked like. They refused to take a dollar in rent. They demanded I eat their food, cooked vegetarian meals to appease my palate and convictions, and would not let me pay 50 cents toward the grocery bill. Lisa Wilcoxen even bought me socks when she noticed mine had holes.
Then there was the committed and passionate family in the CCHF office. Bruce, Marlene, Keesha, and company took me under their wings and deposited into me the wisdom accrued after years of experience administrating health care the poor. They shared with me their first-hand know-how, in addition to the stories of our brothers and sisters across the country struggling to live faithfully in an unjust world. Their wisdom was seasoned with support, and once again I was humbled to find that the wheel I had set out to invent already had well-developed tread. ...And all of this was before my first conference!
All along, God has used CCHF to challenge, humble, and encourage me. Surrounded by “such a great cloud of witnesses,” I find myself sustained by the Spirit and empowered to accomplish the call of God—to the Luke l0:9 initiative. The women and men who have devoted their lives to continuing the healing ministry of Jesus among the poor make real the ideals I uphold. Having stumbled upon CCHF—by God or by Google—I’ve become foolish enough to believe that kingdom has indeed come near.
by Joseph Wolyniak who is in his last year of a Masters of Theological Studies at Duke University (Durham, NC). He plans to work as a community organizer with IAF-affiliate Durham CAN and eventually pursue training in medicine.