“Are you crazy!? Don’t you know there is Ebola in Africa?”
That’s what I am hearing from a few friends as they know we are returning to Africa in the next week or so. This Ebola scare creates irrational fears in all of us, simply because it is a virus without containment or cure. Believe me, I am not crazy, reckless, or overly bold. I respect this deadly virus. Having seen what plagues can do to wipe out entire populations, I am alert to what’s going on. To those of us who frequent mission fields around the globe, and especially Africa, here is my prayerful thinking on this:
First, at this stage of the Ebola crisis, the virus has not mutated to an airborne danger. Unlike the avian flu a few years ago, or even the common flu, those traveling on airplanes are at very minimal risk of ever coming in contact with an infected person on a plane. You would be at much greater risk of catching the flu on an airplane, than contracting Ebola.
Secondly, Africa is a large continent, not a state or nation. It is 2,000 plus miles from West Africa to East Africa, or even 3,000 miles from South Africa. To be fearful of Ebola reaching Tanzania where we are doing mission, would be like hearing of an outbreak of Ebola in Buenos Aires, Argentina and being afraid to travel to New York. We must use common sense in determining risk every day lest we become phobic and never leave the house!
Thirdly, and I mean to encourage all of who are serious Christ followers, we do not serve or live in a spirit of fear. We, who follow the commands and calls of Christ, walk by faith not by sight (or the evening bad news). God goes before you and prepares the way for His missionary ambassadors. Look at how God protected Dr. Kent Brantly and nurse Nancy Writebol after contracting the Ebola virus. A true miracle of God’s Grace.
You might be thinking, “What about those Christians God did not protect from Ebola?” That’s a fair question, and one I have thought about often. Why do some we pray for get healed and others die? In my many years as pastor and missionary I have seen how the Father answers in His own sovereign way. About 10 years ago, BWM hired a bright Kenyan University grad to do ministry for us among University students. He was the best of the best. He had a really bright future before him, when unexpectedly, while traveling on a cross country bus there was an accident. The bus crashed and killed several people, our young staff guy was among the fatalities. You know I asked God why. I really struggled with it. Why him and not me, who has been in ministry half a century and God has protected me countless times?
It is a mystery to many of us, but one truth I stake my life on and have done it repeatedly. That truth is we are to be risk-takers for the sake of the Kingdom. We are to live dangerously in the center of God’s will, leaving the results up to Him with whom we have to do. Whether we live or die, we are the Lords! So, be blessed as you take a risk for Jesus’ sake today!