I received news a few weeks back of a baptism that took place in a village I know well. A witch-doctor father of a child I knew and loved who often refused to even come to our hospital, is now a baptized follower of Christ. As I sit far away from Togo here in DRC, I am reminded of how our call is to be obedient, then get out of the way. There is no one that changes hearts and minds other than Christ himself; no one other that turns water to wine, ashes to beauty, or witchdoctors to believers.
Coming over to DRC to help with the Ebola response so soon after returning to Togo was not a decision taken lightly. But it many ways, it was a culmination of many experiences, desires and skill sets both planned and unplanned. Much of my time has actually been spent in government and NGO partner meetings. Any frustrations I have had in Togo with government dealings now seem dwarfed in comparison. But even in these, I’ve had sweet moments of seeing how the Lord always gives someone nearby, often from unlikely sources, an ally— Someone who has protected me in a situation, offered encouragement where it wasn’t expected, or a helping hand without being asked.
I do not think this outbreak shows any signs of slowing and it is painful to imagine what this region may have in store for the months to come. We now have an open Ebola Treatment Center in the community, but suspicion is rampant as is widespread denial that Ebola exists at all. But the sweet moments continue as a patient says to us “You all have treated me so well here, I wonder if I can work here for you after I get discharged?” After asking him what he wanted to do for work, he said, “maybe I can be one of the men that makes sure people are washing their hands.”
While many in the community are resisting transfer to isolation units and hiding illness in communities, our patient is trying to find out a way to stay among us, and it’s nothing but a beautiful picture—not of us—but of the invitation that the love of Christ is to those who experience it. Don’t we all long to stay in those moments of life where we feel surrounded by the grace and love of the body of Christ? These glimpses of heaven, when we experience Christ among us, are what allow us to continue in a work that is often juxtaposed by trauma and devastation. And the irony is that even during those devastating times, Christ has not parted, but remains in the midst of us, reminding us of that day of victory that will come, a day we long for more and more with each passing hour.
I will soon be leaving DRC and heading back to Togo. In many ways, my three months here has felt more like nine. In many other ways, I feel like we just started. Please continue to pray for the team that remains and for this land to heal both physically and spiritually. Pray that we all may continue to walk in a way worthy to the calling of Christ as he serves his people through us.