I was asked yesterday to write a blog about the church’s readiness to address a potential Ebola pandemic-in our own neighborhoods. Here is what I answered:

Two years ago, I led a children’s missions trip to Swaziland Africa- a county that has the highest AIDS population in the world.  It was a shock that many many of the people my age were deceased, and most of the homes we visited, ministered at, were headed up by a grandmother raising 8-12 children. There simply was no area of the country, culture or daily life that wasn’t impacted by AIDS.  And about the only medical help or assistance I was seeing was coming in from Christians or Faith based organizations.  At the state hospital, they actually ASKED ministers to speak about Jesus and pray for the sick.

If we did have an ebola outbreak where we are now (I live in the U.S.), I do not believe we would be “prepared” or equipped to handle it. Our biggest problem would be panic and possibly hoarding of supplies (I’m remembering 9/11, year 2000 and “H1N1”).  First world cultures are not particularly great at handling an epidemic- what I mean by that is…..at least in the United States, we put death very far out of our minds, and pretend that “normal” here on earth is healthy, safe and never ending. The reality is that we humans are so very fragile, and life is short- eternity is LONG. 

What we would need to recognize in the event of a massive pandemic in our area is….the enormity of the Christian community’s responsibility and OPPORTUNITY.  Never were our churches so full as in the days right after 9/11.  When the last few tsunami’s and earthquakes hit around the world, the world watched the response of the Christian church. If a pandemic, like ebola, actually did hit on a more global scale:

1. The church would need to rise to the occasion and serve people-despite their own fears of infection etc. This may mean providing medical help, encouragement and even supplies to those in need.

2. This would mean being prepared to offer a message of hope as our places of worship fill up.  In times of crisis, many people (at least briefly) turn to the church to hear what we and the Bible have to say.  And Scripture is FULL of words for times of suffering, loss and crisis. It’s a HUGE opportunity to give them Jesus- a God big enough to handle the biggest of world fallout.

Are we ready for a pandemic around the world- definitely not 🙂 But I would hope we would rise to the challenge in His grace when needed…..

What are your thoughts about the recent Ebola outbreak?