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August 27, 2016
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Random Acts of Ministry

Those of my friends of certain religious persuasions talk of every believer being a "minister", called upon to serve G-d at any time, in any way, as a testament to His existence (and attributes). Most of the time, they're talking about simple acts of kindness and living the Golden Rule but sometimes, their intent is active proselytization. That I remain firm in my own (rather than their) beliefs is as much a testament to our mutual respect as my genuine interest in understanding their beliefs and the arguments they use to present them.


That said, I have at certain times felt myself a "magnet' for the loud, public rants of "there are witches among us, and we must not allow them to live" and "you are going straight to Hell" anytime/anyplace evangelists regardless of whether or not I was wearing or carrying anything associated with non-Christian or "fringe" elements.


Less obvious, and sometimes more insidious, than the targeted, loud public rant would-be evangelists are those who engage on a less-crowded street with a non-threatening opening anything ranging from polling your opinion on a hot-button political matter to a casual remark based on what you are wearing or how you choose to travel from place to place.


It was my bicycle helmet that spurred the most recent of these. "You must be brave," my fellow shopper remarked, a few days before Christmas. Brave is not a word I usually associate with cycling. For many in my area, "necessary" is the appropriate association, as folk working lower-pay jobs often can't afford cars. There are other words I have for those who ride on sidewalks, against traffic, or without lights and reflectors after dark, but that's another story...


The conversation turned, perhaps expectedly, to that of death and afterlife. I ride with, and wear, enough lights and high-visibility/reflective clothing that it should be hard for a motorist to not see me on the road. But the rider who rides with the constant fear of being run over (or run off the road) by a motorist is the rider who is a hazard to all road traffic. Confidence, bicycle handling skills, and knowing the rules of the road all help.


Still, this is not meant as a sermon on safe cycling.


It's about how, in the familiar conversation about the would-be evangelist "finding G-d" and having had extraordinary experiences as a result, I could relate experiences I've had of seemingly-chance encounters with others where my previous experiences, and my most difficult trials in life, have made me uniquely able to help. It's about how we, who are active in the diabetes community and knowledgeable about how other people with diabetes are best able to manage their own conditions, are able to offer suggestions for others to discuss with their healthcare teams. And it's about how diabetes mellitus is so prevalent in our population that even those who do not fit the stereotypes for any type of diabetes may be profoundly effected by it.


For just as my fellow shopper prepared a card with information to pass on to someone she would minister that day, some of us walk around with one or two spare World Diabetes Day pins to be passed on to other PWDs, Type 3s, health activists, and public figures. Just as she chose to share her information with me, I passed a pin on to her. I learned that she was prediabetic, and that she would look up the International Diabetes Federation. And so, just as her ministry is passing on the Word of G-d, ours is passing on the words of better diabetes management.


Though I think I would prefer not to be called a "diabetes minister"...

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