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CBU Chapel Speaker Challenges Students to be a People of Love

Riverside, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2015) -- A chapel speaker at California Baptist University shared her experience working in a hospital in Togo, Africa and challenged students to be people of love.

Sarah Thebarge is a Christian speaker, writer and has a postgraduate degree in medical science. She also has a passion for people in need. Thebarge spoke at CBU Oct. 14 about her experience on a recent trip to Africa, to volunteer at the Hospital of Hope. The hospital opened in March and was funded by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian international humanitarian organization.

Hospital of Hope is a 60-bed medical, surgical, acute care facility and regional trauma center.

Thebarge recalled her experience of working 28-hour shifts and witnessing a lot of death— including children—from tuberculosis, malaria, meningitis, accidents and more.

"I was physically exhausted. I was emotionally and spiritually spent," Thebarge said. "I kept going back anyway because I felt so bad for these people who are suffering and dying."

During off time, Thebarge listened to a podcast about Sisyphus, a Greek mythological character, who angered the "gods." His punishment was to carry a rock on his back up a hill, but before he reached the top it rolled back down and he had to do it again.

"This is what the hospital felt like to me," Thebarge said. "I kept trying to do something and no matter how hard I tried, every shift I was starting back at the beginning."

As Thebarge kept researching the Sisyphus story, she soon discovered that a few authors interpreted the story from the viewpoint that Sisyphus eventually fell in love with the rock and it was not a burden anymore to carry it up the hill. This commentary on a service mindset reminded her of Christian principles and caused her to think about what motivates people to do what they do.

"Love does not give up, love keeps on working and it keeps moving that rock up the hill.  This is what Jesus did for us," Thebarge said.

Thebarge cited World Bank statistics on poverty, noting that a billion people live in extreme poverty—defined as less than $1.25 a day.

Since 1990 that number has dropped, Thebarge said, noting the World Bank has a goal to end extreme poverty by 2030. She said that means today's college students can be the generation to end it and urged students to work toward achieving that goal.  

"You have the opportunity to be a person of love, to put it into practice. Fall in love with the rock on your back and because you see it with love it is not drudgery, it is not a burden, it doesn't make you feel guilty or depressed or in despair," Thebarge said. "It gives you hope that you can carry this rock up the hill, just like Jesus carried all of us up the hill and loved us enough to die for us."