Spending over 22 years in Africa and the Middle East, I’ve experienced a few health issues. The first came as a young 22-year-old, when I learned a lot about germs, while living in Ivory Coast, West Africa. I had already learned how to soak vegetables and fruit in disinfectant to avoid disease, but I must have missed the memo when I quickly developed an infection in my blood after picking a small bump on my leg. The twelve shots in my hip helped me learn not to do that again!
I took chloroquine to prevent malaria; tried to avoid, without much success, eating things that gave me diarrhea, and lost a good bit of weight. However, I did survive, and came home to tell some interesting stories.
Having learned a lot of lessons from those two years, my next twenty in the Middle East and North Africa were much healthier overall. This didn’t mean there were not health risks.
We faced the Swine Flu epidemic in Egypt, which meant a loss of many pigs in the country, most of which were used to help keep trash at bay, and were a source of income for the poor in the Garbage City area of Cairo.
We also lived through the Bird Flu epidemic, which meant a greater loss of poultry for many months, and real fear for the lives of the many Egyptians who kept chickens or ducks in their homes in the villages.
The latest COVID-19 pandemic is affecting missionaries around the world, who, like me, were already making adjustments in their adopted lands. I pray for them, as many will not have the health care facilities we enjoy in the United States.
When a health crisis arises, I ask God what he wants to teach me through this time. I also ask what he might be teaching the people around me, my countrymen, or adopted nation.
As a result, I’ve made a short list of potential Corona Lessons:
- Am I learning to rest, as I step back from the busyness of life?
- Am I learning to give priority and quality time to my spouse, my children, my family?
- Am I learning to live with less — less food, less stuff, less entertainment?
- Am I learning what really matters in life?
- Am I learning that I’m not in control?
- Am I learning to focus on God?
- Am I learning to be sure of my eternity?
While this pandemic may have taught you how to wash your hands or stop touching your face, there are deeper lessons to be learned and applied to life. What has God taught you? What’s he teaching your community or family?
May we each hear his voice in these days of change and learn the lessons God’s prepared for us — to his glory.
Grace and Peace