Thursday, August 7, 2014

After Ebola, What Then? by Mike DeCamp

It has been just about two weeks since I learned of Kent Brantly’s battle with Ebola, and it has been quite a ride.  I’ve written a couple of blog posts.  I’ve done a radio interview on Moody Radio (Thank you Kelli Thompson).  I’ve watched the TV news visit our worship and interview a couple of my friends.  And, I’ve even seen our minister, Greg York be interviewed on a national Fox News TV show.  Not to mention that I’ve seen Kent’s picture on every media outlet possible.

I’ve prayed like I haven’t prayed in a long time.  With fervency.  With emotion.  Pleading.  Negotiating.  Reasoning with God.  Fasting was even in the mix.  (That is a practice we need to renew in our church culture.) 

I’ve been sad for the struggle that the Brantly’s have faced.  I’ve been concerned for the outcome.  I was full of Joy when I watched Kent step out of that ambulance and walk into the hospital.  And, I’ve been sorely tempted to be angry at the ignorant and frightened comments of people who are not fully aware of the facts; whether it was some noted public figure, or just some random person commenting on a newspaper article.

And, I’ve been amazed.

I’ve been amazed at the spirit of the church at Southeastern.  So many people jumping in…praying…asking others to pray…sharing information….encouraging one another.  Getting intimately interested in the struggle to care for the Ebola victims in Africa.  There has been a spirit of purpose and unity that I’ve just never seen before.

I’ve been amazed at how God seems to be using this situation.  Incredible new levels of attention from key potential resources have been drawn to the Ebola crisis through Kent and Nancy’s illnesses.  Potential treatments have leapt over years of study and could be brought to bear much, much sooner because of what happened.  And, then there is Kent’s sermon.  Wow.  In the week or so since the link was posted on our church Facebook wall, it has been seen by over 8000 people and been shared 94 times.  (And those are just the hits we can see on Facebook.  There have been more.)  Everyone from CBN to CNN to Fox News has checked it out.  The woman who interviewed Greg even said she had listened to the whole thing and was moved by it.  The message of God’s call on Kent’s life has touched incredible numbers of people in both high and low places…all to God’s own glory.

And the world is awestruck. 

I’m reminded of Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Jesus

Kent has given us another very personal example of this to follow.  One article in a popular online publication even coined a phrase:  WWKD (What Would Kent Do?).  Well, I can tell you one thing he would do…he would reject that and point to God.  He would give God the glory.  Kent has done the things that he did because God did the things that He did.

So, it’s been a wild ride, and God has been working, and is being glorified like I have not seen in my lifetime.

But, in a couple of weeks, the crisis will be in the past, and what will we do then?

Will we use this as a catalyst for real change in our lives and in the life of the Southeastern Church of Christ?  Or, will we simply slip back into old patterns?  Will we continue to love more deeply?  Pray more fervently?  Share more urgently?  Care more passionately?  Give more fully?  Worship more zealously?  Or, is it back to the same old church that we were?  If YOU won't change, then WE won't change.

Only you can decide.

Let me seriously challenge you.  And, frankly, this challenge starts with those of us who claim to be leaders.  (Are we going to lead?)  Make some specific decisions to change.  Renew your heart.  Renew your zeal for God.  Find God’s “call on your life” and give yourself to it.  I’m looking for my call…and I’m determined to be different as we come out the other side of this thing.  Are you with me?

Judges 5:2
“When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves – praise the Lord!”

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