What happens when you come into contact with someone with a communicable disease?
When we first arrived in Atlanta, before the days of bus trips and even before we remodeled our house in 1983 to accommodate larger groups, we hosted an African emphasis meeting at our house one Sunday afternoon. Oddly (or just true to nature?), I had completely forgotten about it as I was on my way home from the airport from twice waiting to pick up a young Christian family from Ethiopia, who had fled the country with, literally, the clothes on their back.
What a “coincidence”: an African family in need of shelter and clothing and a young church studying and praying for Africa meeting under the same roof. Noticing that the African wife was 7 months pregnant with child #2, one prominent church family, who later founded what became the largest travel agency in the USA, invited them to their “mission clothes closet” where the American wife knew she had several new outfits perfect of an expecting mother. Both the African husband and wife walked away with suitcases full of stylish apparel.
But that’s all. Before they left, a young 4th year Emory med student quietly approached me to ask if he could exam the 2 year old boy. Although he had never seen a case of a communicable ring worm disease, he had seen text book pictures of it and suspected we could all be at risk. His diagnosis was correct. Without drawing attention to anyone or even alerting them to the potential danger, we stood aside and agreed in prayer for the power of Blood of Christ to protect each and every one of us. He did. The young doctor personally escorted the new family to Emory Hospital for proper medication and treatment.
My only other experience with a communicable disease threat came during the SARS epidemic in China in February 2003 when we were hosting Friday evening Dinner and Discussions. As always, we had new quests from China, 2 of whom were FOB: Fresh Off the Boat. As soon as they were introduced, instead of the traditional applause, a rapid fire q&a ensued. How awkward it was not to immediately welcome and pray for them. Rather, because many in our group were medical doctors/researchers, some in the crowd immediately covered their faces with scarves or napkins as they began peppering the new arrivals: “When did you arrive?” “What city did you come from?” “Were you quarantined before you left?”, “What kind of medical exam and written inspection certificate were you issued?”
The sense of panic that could have erupted, ended calmly when they discovered the new guests were not from Hong Kong or Guangdong Province where the outbreak occurred.
As relieved as most felt, I often wonder how we could have just as easily prayed in the power of Jesus Name to overcome that fear and disease and give Him the glory.