Why Do So Many Doctors Treating Ebola Have To Be Christian?
Not long ago I read this article on slate.com about how most of the medical care for Ebola patients in Africa comes from missionaries. And the author, who wasn’t a Christian, made some interesting statements about those missionaries. He said he’s uncomfortable with the missionary medical personnel in Africa because they don’t collect data the way some secular medical organizations do, and because they lack oversight. Then he said this,
“And yet, truth be told, these valid critiques don’t fully explain my discomfort with missionary medicine. If we had thousands of secular doctors doing exactly the same work, I would probably excuse most of these flaws. ‘They’re doing work no one else will,’ I would say. ‘You can’t expect perfection.'”
Kind of weird.
A Pastor Fund Raises For A Gulf Stream Jet Aircraft
Some of that bias is caused by people who identify themselves as Christians but don’t live as a Christian. I recently heard about a man who calls himself a pastor who’s organized a fund raising drive to purchase a 50 million dollar Gulf Stream jet aircraft. That’s kind of weird too. And that kind of weirdness leads to a bias among people like the author of that slate.com article.
But my experience with Christians has been different.
Relocating From The Rogue Valley
In the last post I mentioned that Kathy, Alex, and I are relocating. As I write this I’m sitting in our mostly empty house on Angel Crest Drive in Medford, Oregon among boxes, cleaning supplies, and an ironing board. Over the last few days we moved most of our belongings to our new (new to us) home in Portland, Oregon. We’ve lived in the beautiful Rogue Valley for 35 years and it’s a difficult place to leave. You can walk down any street in our neighborhood around Angel Crest and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valley. The physical beauty of Southern Oregon is amazing. But that’s not the only thing that’s amazing about this place.
Why It’s So Hard To Leave A Valley Full Of Christians
When I came here 35 years ago, I wasn’t a Christian. But the first crew I was assigned to on the Medford Fire Department was made up of a bunch of Christian firefighters. In a fire department you become very familiar with your crewmates because you live with them 24 hours at a time. It works out so you spend about a fourth of your life with your crew. When I got to know these firefighters I thought they were freaks. Up until that point I’d never met anyone so gracious, and honest, and of such high character. Their lives attracted me to Christ and I started going to church.
This church was full of people like the Christian firefighters. They were (and are) gracious, and lovers of God, and lovers of people. The pastor was the same.
Later I got to know the pastor fairly well because we bought the house next door to his. He never organized a fund raiser to purchase a Gulf Stream jet aircraft. In fact, today he and his wife live in a house that measures less than 1,000 square feet. We lived next door to him for more than ten years and he was the best next door neighbor anyone could ask for. He was just like the people in his congregation. He loved God, and he loved us, and he loved others.
Our pastor’s daughters babysat our kids. (Tragically, one of those daughters passed away in a car accident when she was a teenager.) Our kids told us these sitters were always playful and active. They never spent the evening on their phone or watching TV. And get this, when we came home at the end of our evening the house was cleaned from top to bottom. What babysitter does that?
And his church. His church feeds 1,000 or so people a meal after every summer Sunday service–for free. You can go on a personal retreat in a cabin on a picturesque mountain top most anytime you like–for free. You can attend group retreats at the same mountain top facility–for free. There are worship services offered 365 days of the year. This church is in a beautiful but remote location that no church consultant would ever endorse but thousands of people make the long drive to attend there every week. What church is like that?
Our electrician, our realtor, one of my doctors, our dentist, one of our bankers, our mason, our finish carpenter are all Christians. And they’re all really great at what they do and great people besides.
The Christian neighbors around us have all been great friends.
Over the years we’ve watched our family members who became Christians transform into better people.
I’m not saying these Christians are perfect. And I’m not saying there aren’t people who identify themselves as Christians, or even genuine Christians, who blow it. I’m just saying: Christians in my experience have been amazing. I’ve seen Christ in the lives of the Christians described in this blog post.
I don’t know why it’s been this way. Maybe the Rogue Valley is an anomaly, a place where virtually every Christian is Christlike. I don’t know. I just know, reflecting back over the last 35 years here in the Rogue Valley, in my experience, the Christians I know have been filled with the Spirit of Christ.
I’ve been richly blessed to know them.
And that makes it difficult to leave.
What is your experience with Christians?
*You might also like: Why Is That Christian So Appalling?
Brian Palmer, In Medicine We Trust, Slate.com
Dee Parsons, Slate.com writer: Too many doctors who treat ebola are Christians, Faith In Practice Blog