I’m a Seattle girl, and one of the hallmark traits of a Seattleite is that we speak our mind and share our opinions because what’s the worst that can happen; someone disagrees and then goes back to drinking their coffee or smoking their pot. My world doesn’t hinge on wether you agree with me or not, it hinges on whether I was authentic and spoke up when something was important to me.
Sitting here in Cotonou, Benin, a mere two hours from Lagos, Nigeria where another case of Ebola has been confirmed, this Seattle girl has something on her heart she wants to share:
My God is not a god of death and disease but of life and beauty. My God is bigger than fear, no matter how valid or logical. My God is not bound by borders nor confused by Ebola. My God is unpredictable and wild and my God loves in just the same way.
After monitoring the Ebola situation and evaluating the risk, Mercy Ships made the bittersweet call not to go to Guinea for our 2014-15 field service. So our team packed for Benin instead. Because of the short notice we heard a lot of, “Just do what you can, everyone will understand if something doesn’t get done.” But since we arrived in Benin we have watched as door after door was blown off the hinge for us and tasks were checked off that no one expected us to accomplish. And to that all I can say is God is for us and for this country. I believe this is a nation set apart and Mercy Ships has been brought here to play a part.
And because of that I refuse to believe that we have been preparing and speaking hope into people’s hearts just to pack up and leave before the first patient steps a foot on the gangway. I refuse to believe that all our connections and hard work were for nothing. I refuse to believe my God is that small.
But its still easy to succumb to fear, look around, there are plenty of reasons. We live in a broken world where planes are shot out of the sky, where earthquakes devastate entire communities and disease kills thousands. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel that twinge of fear in my gut when I read the news– over the next three weeks one of my primary tasks will have me at the international airport every couple days.
But I have to cling to truth and what some may call foolish trust. There have been two distinct times where logically and medically I should have died. But here I am, living and breathing and enjoying each day. I know intimately that God holds each day of mine and I can say with confidence God knows how my story will end. It doesn’t mean I throw caution to the wind and neglect preventative measures at all. It does mean that I will continue to do what I’m doing everyday and maybe use the hand sanitizer a bit more often.
But what really gets me is that, should Ebola cross the border into Benin, I can cash in my American citizen chips and go home. But my friends here aren’t so lucky. They have no golden ticket in the form of a blue passport. They have no choice but to face this. For one friend going home would be just as bad as staying here… Home is Guinea and Sierra Leone. But that’s an internal dilemma for another day…
At the end of the day, I work for an organization that I trust. I know our leaders evaluate well and I know they pray hard. I don’t envy the decision makers but I trust the decisions they make. They made the call to change our course from Guinea to Benin and they have continued to monitor the outbreak and will evaluate again. And because I trust them I will keep doing what I’m doing and praying big bold prayers.