Why did Dr. [Kent] Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”
[S]erving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.
Today’s Christians are aces at sacrifice, amazing at serving others, but strangely timid for people who have been given eternal life. They need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.
Why did he decide to take his family to “this far-off place” he knew nothing about?
“It’s because God has a call on my life,” Brantly said.
Quoting the Apostle Paul, Brantley urged the congregation to live boldly, saying, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity.”
The sermon offers a deeper look at the man whose life has been permanently damaged by his work, and how his faith drove him to sacrifice.
“On difficult days,” Brantly said, “when I want to give up or when I wonder if I’ve made the right decision, retelling my story reminds me of how God has brought me to where I am.”
Brantly served the poor and infirm and put his own life in jeopardy serving patients in Liberia, so you would think that he would be received as a hero, admired for his work, and held up as an example of the highest calling of his profession and his religion. The same is true of his colleague, American Liberia volunteer Nancy Writebol, who just arrived in the States for treatment.
But not everyone seems to think so. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has received hate e-mails and phone calls. An op-ed in Bloomberg View questions who made the decision to bring Brantly home, and social media is abuzz with demands that Ebola victims not be admitted to the United States at all. The New York Post proclaimed “Ebola fear is going viral” and quoted one of Donald Trump’s tweets: “Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days — Now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!”…
There are two epidemics in the world today. The first is a troubling spread of the Ebola virus in poor countries in Africa, an outbreak that is the result of poverty, inattention by those countries’ political leaders, and a general lack of concern by the wealthier nations about epidemics that don’t yet seem to directly affect them.
But the second epidemic is a more dangerous one. It is a spreading lack of compassion, characterized by disaster fatigue, helplessness in the face of war refugees, intolerance for immigration, and now, the desire to ban even American citizens who are sick and need our help. The second epidemic seems harder to contain than the first, but it is every bit as important.
Even atheists could find a guide to goodness in asking themselves What Would Kent Do?
What Jesus would do is what Brantly did when he agreed to work in an Ebola isolation ward in Liberia despite being admittedly terrified.
What Brantly also did was what Jesus also would have done after the doctor’s worst fears became real and he was infected along with a fellow health worker.
Only one dose of an experimental serum was available, and Brantly insisted that it go to his colleague, Nancy Writebol.
Instead, Brantly got a blood transfusion from a 14 year-old Ebola survivor who was among those the doctor had treated while placing himself in such mortal peril.
A good preacher could draw a telling parallel between the absolving blood of Christ and the blood of this teen, which contains antibodies from the successful fight against the virus that Brantley so selflessly assisted.
The hope now is that those antibodies will now help Brantly in his own battle for life.
These Americans generously went to Africa on a humanitarian mission to help eradicate a disease that is especially deadly in countries without our health-care infrastructure. They deserve the same selflessness from us. To refuse to care for these professionals would raise enormous questions about the ethical foundation of our profession. They have a right to come home for their care when it can be done effectively and safely.
As health-care professionals, this is what we have trained for. People often ask why we would choose to care for such high-risk patients. For many of us, that is why we chose this occupation — to care for people in need. Every person involved in the treatment of these two patients volunteered for the assignment. At least two nurses canceled vacations to be a part of this team. They derive satisfaction from knowing that, after years of preparing for this type of case, they are able to help, to comfort and to do it safely. The gratitude they receive from the patients’ families drives their efforts.
As human beings, we all hope that if we were in need of superior health care, our country and its top doctors would help us get better. We can either let our actions be guided by misunderstandings, fear and self-interest, or we can lead by knowledge, science and compassion. We can fear, or we can care.
Liberals treat prosperity in America as a zero sum game — if there are winners, there must be losers. They are wrong. Christians should not do the same with Christianity — surely a Christian may lose his life, but even then he is a winner. There are no losers except the Devil himself when a Christian goes therefore until all the nations.
How many Liberians might come to know the Lord because of Dr. Brantly’s sacrifice? How many Americans, in an age of growing hostility to Christians, might see his sacrifice and pick up their own crosses? How many Liberians might grow in affection for the United States through Dr. Brantly’s sacrifice? We may never know the answer to any of these. But history itself shows us many will be saved and many will turn their hearts toward this great country. Christians should be focused on saving souls where the Lord leads them and lends them talent and we should all praise the work of the Holy Spirit in so doing.
Surely Christians in America can spare one man to Africa or even ten. After all, Christians are to save souls, not just American ones. Had Dr. Brantly gone to our southern border and provided his services there, some would attack him there too for helping illegal aliens.
But Dr. Brantly, as do we all, goes where the Holy Spirit leads.