The Centers for Disease Control announced yesterday that 1.4 million people could be infected with the Ebola virus by early next year if interventions don’t start working soon. The CDC director arrived in Africa Monday to assess the crisis, and is calling it “absolutely unprecedented.”
But there’s good news on this tragic front from two unlikely sources. One is the role Ebola survivors are playing in confronting the epidemic. Many doctors believe that those who are infected but survive this strain of Ebola become immune to it. As a result, they are being enlisted to counsel those who may be infected. They are helping bury the dead, since bodies of Ebola victims are even more contagious than when the person was alive.
Survivors such as Mohamed and Zena are now Ebola Ambassadors in Guinea, working with community groups to show that the disease can be prevented if people take certain precautions. And survivors such as William Pooley, the first British person to contract Ebola, are donating blood plasma to treat victims.
A second source of good news is the growing role of volunteerism in fighting the disease. For instance, the YMCA in Missoula, Montana is partnering with the YMCA in Sierra Leone to stem the Ebola tide. They are donating funds for chlorine buckets and bleach, sanitary gloves, and other health aids. They are also paying for delivering food to families that are quarantined in their home while they’re determining if anyone is infected with the virus.
When I heard these reports, I thought of Matthew 8, where Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount and was immediately confronted by a leper. This man was the first-century equivalent to an Ebola victim—dangerous to others, ostracized from society, doomed to die. But Jesus “stretched out his hand and touched him,” and “immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (v. 3).
When the people of Capernaum learned of his remarkable healing powers, they “brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick” (v. 16). They were not forcing their beliefs on others or violating the separation of church and state. They were simply bringing sick people to the One who could heal them.
When you and I share the good news of God’s love, we’re doing the same thing. We’re Ebola survivors helping others survive. We’re people with resources in Montana helping those who need our resources in Africa. An evangelist has been defined as “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”
Who do you know who has not met the One who heals and saves? Have you prayed for that person by name today? Have you enlisted as a Grace Ambassador to share the good news of God’s transforming love? Have you given of your resources to help those who are helping the lost find Jesus?
Ebola may infect 1.4 million people, but sin infects us all. You know the cure. Is there a greater privilege than sharing it with those who need it today?