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Ministry with heart

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With faith: Dean Sue Slusher, CIST (Caucasian), Majorie Richardson-Caines, Evangelist Joan Simmons, President KSOM

Zetamae Linda Burrows spent a large chunk of her childhood in hospital after she was born with a heart condition.

As an adult she vowed to avoid the hospital at all costs, but God had a different plan.

She’s ministered to the sick and terminally ill at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for the past three decades.

The 67-year-old has also accompanied people overseas for emergency treatment, with the goal of praying and ministering to them in their time of need.

“Growing up my mom [Cora Gwendoline Wallace] was very active in the Church and once I turned 30 she decided I had been in church long enough and it was time for me to start my ministry,” Ms Burrows said.

“That was the same age that Jesus Christ started his ministry, so she took me to the hospital, the one place I didn’t want to go.

“As a child I was born with a heart condition, so on a weekly and monthly basis I was visiting the hospital. When I first started serving I was seeing a lot of things I didn’t want to look at. I didn’t like the sight of blood, but as I went from one room to the other and prayed for whoever needed and wanted it, things started to change.

“Sometimes we were rejected by the patients, but most times our prayers were graciously accepted. One thing I realised, is though I was ministering to the sick on their beds, they were also ministering back to us.

“You go in to help others, but come out yourself feeling revived knowing that someone else has been blessed. The Bible tells you that you should visit the sick, the prisons and all those in need and that plays a great part in our ministry knowing we can help people with great needs like sickness or disease.”

She soon realised just how emotionally challenging ministry could be.

Many people she prayed for succumbed to their illness; she started to wonder if maybe she was praying for the wrong things.

“The Lord later revealed to me that He was sending me in to the people who needed me most,” she said. “As I prayed I was believing God for their healing, but I was also praying that the patients wouldn’t miss out on heaven. The rewarding thing was seeing them find peace after our visit. Some weren’t saved, so we would introduce them to the Lord so they could cross into the other side.”

She’s hopeful new opportunities will open for her to serve overseas.

To aid in that she studied with Koinonia Training Centre, a school opened three years ago by Reverend Dr Conway Simmons and Joan Simmons. The school’s mission is to build people’s knowledge of the Bible, encourage them to have a more intimate relationship with Christ and share the gospel.

Ms Burrows learnt about Koinonia after being invited to a workshop by Mrs Simmons.

She had no intention of going through a rigorous study programme but gradually felt the Lord urging her to go deeper into the study of His word; friends like Dorthea Simons encouraged her to persevere.

“Finishing this course hasn’t been easy, but before my mother passed a year-and-a-half ago she told me to go all the way. The first two years I didn’t work and had more time, but since then I’ve been working as a caregiver for a husband and his wife who has dementia. It’s been a struggle balancing everything. Sometimes we had 26 chapters of scripture to read in a week and would have to write papers on top of that, but with God’s help I got through.”

Ms Burrows graduated from the programme on May 6. A ceremony was held at Radnor Road Christian Fellowship in Hamilton Parish. Deborah Trimm and Marjorie Richardson-Caines also graduated.

“For me it was just as much about my grandson as it was about me,” she said. “He’s 19 and often struggles with his academics, but I said, ‘If I study, you have to study too. If I graduate, you have to do that too’.

“I’m not only helping myself, but helping him too. On the day of the ceremony I was grateful that God allowed me to do what I set out to.

“All the praise and glory goes right back to God. I had great support from the Church and family members at those times I felt like giving up and God taught me a lot in the process.”

She’s learnt that her spiritual gift is to be a nurturer.

As the eldest of seven children, Ms Burrows took care of five of her siblings while her mother worked “day and night”.

“I cooked and cleaned, helped to bathe my siblings and did their hair,” she said. “I took care of the whole household.

“I used to think I missed out on my childhood because of that, but now I’m looking back on my life I’m seeing it as a blessing from God. Over the years I’ve had a lot of spiritual children and foster children. I even help to transport children to and from school up to today.

“God has entrusted me to be a mother all my life and even when I feel like resting, God keeps saying, ‘No, there are other children who need help and mothering, they need encouragement and mentoring’.”

•You can contact the Koinonia Training Centre on koinoniaschoolofministry2014@gmail.com or 236-3680

Doing God’s work: Reverend Dr Deborah J. Trimm and Zetamae L. Burrows, right, at Ms Burrows’ graduation from the Koinonia Training Centre
Zetamae L. Burrows