May 3 Reflections

In November of 2015 I traveled with a group of folks from Bridge of Hope, the congregation I was serving at the time, to Liberia through an organization known as One Body One Hope. This organization worked closely with an orphanage that housed children whose parents were either killed in the revolution or died from Ebola. Living with these people for a little more than a week my faith grew exponentially as I saw them having nothing yet content. Living in faith not fear. Yet the stop of the spread of Ebola in that country was done by observing some basic health practices. Isolation of those diagnosed. No contact with the body of a loved one who died from Ebola. This one was so significant because often loved ones would spend days by the dead body. To stop the spread often a dead person’s body was immediately cremated upon death. Also, some basic health practices such as washing hands and using bleach to wash hands became a priority. Through diligence the spread of Ebola stopped.

There are times I have heard Christians say I am not going to live in fear by living my life as if Covid 19 does not exist. We are not called to be wimpy Christians, be strong and courageous. While I agree with living in faith not fear, I don’t agree with being inattentive and failing to use common sense all in the name of some trumped up superficial idea of what faith is. If you want to see faith and using common sense in the face of a crisis, I will take you to Liberia where no health care is available and often all the people have is faith and common sense. I struggle when people separate faith and common sense. Go ahead, accuse me of not living in faith…I know better.

While in Liberia I contracted pneumonia. Pneumonia was and is the leading cause of death in Liberia, it was not Ebola. There is no health care to speak of and medication is too high of price. It hit me hard. My lungs were compromised. High fever, coughing endlessly and so very tired. There was a PA along on the trip. She did have one medication with her that I needed. But one more needed to be found. One member of the group went out on an all morning pilgrimage to find it which she eventually did one hour away from where we were staying. I took my medication. I rested. I drank fluids until I couldn’t anymore. And people prayed for me…oh how they prayed for me; back home and in Liberia. I often chuckle and say you have not been prayed for until you have been prayed over by a Pentecostal Liberian. I think Satan turned tale and ran when that prayed was not just said but literally yelled. But never once did that person imply, I could stop taking my medication or following basic common-sense health practices. It was that and faith. I did recover in time to leave and not only to leave but preach the morning that we left. In my weakness I sensed God leading me to extend an altar call. People began to come forward with tears in their eyes to recommit their life to Christ or commit for the first time. The people lived in faith. But also, common sense. We need to do the same in the days of Covid 19.

Paul wrote to Timothy. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid (fearful, anxious,), but gives us power (dunamis), love (agape) and self-discipline (self-control, sensible, mindful, common sense). (2 Timothy 1:7) The Holy Spirit living in us gives us power to see, understand, and live fruitful lives. The Holy Spirit gives us agape the energy to give of ourselves for the good of another. The Holy Spirit also gives us common sense, self-discipline (the ability to say no that we may yes to God), self-control, and the ability to use our brains. So, when I believe that it would not be wise to worship corporately this coming Sunday, it is not because I do not have faith, it is because my faith also includes my mind and common sense and love for others and myself; you cannot separate them. Some passages to read for Sunday: Romans 8:31-39;Numbers 13-14:9; 2 Timothy 1:7.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn