Community:a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society – from Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
Community, a word with many varied meanings. The residents of a certain town or village are referenced as living within a community. A group of professionals at large like doctors are referred to as being in the medical community. In it’s most general sense it simply means a collective group of individuals no matter how varied their interests. Yet the word community can mean so much more as well.
Our English word community comes from the Latin word communitatem which simply means fellowship or shared relations and feelings. But if we look at the Greek equivalent to the word community we find the word koinonia. Koinonia is a term used frequently in the New Testament to describe the relationship between the early followers of Jesus Christ. In it’s simplest definition it means sharing a common life. Recently, the word community has taken on a deeper meaning for me.
Most of you know that Kim was diagnosed in October of 2012 with rheumatoid disease (RD). Kim is an RN and works in the Ambulatory Care department at our local hospital. One of the jobs that she does is administer various shots, medications, and transfusions; drugs for rabies, cancer treatments, etc. Lately she has been handling some of the transfusions and treatments for other patients with RD. This has given her the opportunity to relate to them on a very personal level as she shares with them that she too has RD. Last fall she was taking care of a lady that was diagnosed with RD three years ago. The woman had not responded well to treatments and was seeing Kim for one of the more aggressive RD infusion treatments. When Kim told this woman that she too had RD the woman became quite emotional. Kim was the first person this lady had ever met who also had RD. For three years she had suffered silently with RD without ever talking to another person who had the disease. She had never interacted with anyone online and did not know about the large Rheum community and information available to her on the internet. Kim gladly shared with her some of the various options that were available to her.
For us, the Rheum community is extremely important. In late December of last year I wrote a blog post asking for help from the Rheum community as we faced some serious treatment roadblocks with Kim’s RD. The Rheum community responded by viewing that post over 600 times and providing dozens of comments with incredibly helpful information and encouragement. And this was when everything started to take on a new meaning for me. As we interact, email, read one another’s blogs, and encourage one another with funny Rheum tweets, we are building a real community. This isn’t a Latin word meaning of community that says we are merely sharing feelings. No, this is koinonia, a sharing of common life. Men and women, singles and married, Christians and atheists holding each other up as we travel the same road.
And now we are asking for others to join the Rheum community. For those who do not have rheumatoid disease to come and share our common life, our koinonia. On February 2, 2013, we will participate in the first annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day. We are asking for you to join us as we raise awareness for rheumatoid disease. Through increased awareness we hope to fund further research, educate others, and dismiss the wrong perceptions that people have about rheumatoid disease. We want to stop rheumatoid disease from being so silent and invisible that patients suffer alone for three years. We want to work towards a cure and we need your help.