(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, October 22, 2015
Another day, another memory. Except, this is an especially poignant one, concerning the Ebola crisis in Africa. (And, there is recent, hopeful news. The crisis has been over for a number of months!)
This post also concerns my friend Jim, in Africa. He and his family are over there, far away. He and his wife Amy are doing important, life-saving work. God bless them!
A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 24, 2014
A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way (Feature Friday!)
Ebola crisis. When I say that, what happens inside? Do you get anxious? Afraid? Do you know much about Ebola? Do you know anyone who is actively working with the medical personnel concerned with Ebola, in areas affected by that particular disease? I do. My friend Jim—Dr. James Mcauley, medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—is stationed in Africa, along with his wife and part of his family. (Jim and Amy’s younger son was in the same grade as my son—we all knew one another from church.)
Jim has been stationed in Africa for three years. Formerly an infectious disease physician here in Chicago, he is now doing life-saving work managing and supervising medical personnel in a large area of Africa. Here’s a snapshot of what his day-to-day work looks like, in his own words.
“Our team has been working flat out trying to stop this epidemic, and morale is always an issue. I visited four of our teams in the last 48 hours – bringing supplies and listening. [I’m thinking of] two – discussing infection control with the nurse in charge – part of our roving team and have had a particularly rough road…. Others have had to deal with the stress of having a cold or diarrhea and wonder if it might be Ebola. Although our teams avoid contact with Ebola patients, it is always a concern. I have lost a lot of sleep worrying about my team.”
One other important thing about Jim? Yes, he attended seminary part-time while holding his position as infectious disease doctor—full-time. He and I were in seminary at the same time, in the same Reformed Tradition class. We sat at the back of the room, and made joking and snarky comments to each other. (Yes, I was that kind of student.) He is now ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has that qualification, too. So, when I read that he is concerned for his team, I know he and his wife Amy (also a physician) are praying for the workers on the field.
More from Jim: “Saw first hand the Ebola Holding Units where people are isolated while diagnostic tests are done. [I] visited two quarantined villages, and participated in several calls with the US. CDC staff do not enter Ebola Treatment Centers or any home where an Ebola patient might be housed. So we kept our distance…. I think the bags of Snickers I left with my teams held the Dementors at bay for another day…. Pray, resist the urge to call for US isolation, donate (CDC Foundation has been amazing), and consider volunteering to help our neighbors in Africa.”
Jim is reporting from the field, from where the disease is affecting countless people, every day. Not only the people who were infected, but also their families. Their friends. The people who lived next door, or down the street. All because of the fear and anxiety that comes from Ebola.
This is what Jim has to say about that: “So much we don’t yet understand. I am starting to think of ways to reach out to the faith based health worker groups – who better to stand in the gap and demonstrate to the world what it means to love God and love my neighbor. Wouldn’t it be great if in a few years when the world looks back on this epidemic they say, ‘Ah, but the people of God stood fast and demonstrated real love!’”
This is my hope and prayer, too, Jim. I pray that you and Amy will demonstrate God’s love in your actions, too. God’s blessings on your work and service. And, thanks for the permission to share your story!
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)