July 27, 2015

The Hand of Hospitality

"Our first Ebola patient looked up at me weakly as I knelt next to her bed of blankets...."
"Dressed in full protective gear, I offered the young woman my right hand protected by two surgical gloves. She grabbed hold. 'Felicia, my name is Dr. Brantly,' I said. 'This is David. He's one of our nurses." David greeted her. 'We are going to take good care of you here,' I assured Felicia."

I was on page one of Called for Life the newly released book of Kent and Amber Brantly and I was already being challenged.

I have always LOVED reading accounts of missionaries and spiritual greats. I have read and re-read Hearts on Fire, the Autobiography of George Muller and The Simple Path by Mother Teresa. From my couch with my cup of coffee I can be jolted through words on a page to look beyond myself and my world.

We have inspiring biblical accounts of Paul and his missionary journeys, Ruth and Naomi setting out together, and Abraham leaving his homeland just to name a few. All of these stories teach me great truths about the faithfulness of God and what great things He can accomplish through people who will walk in the path He has set for them. I love these stories. They have stood the test of time, thousands of years and they are still riveting.

However, through modern day accounts of people who have let God have His way with them we can also be inspired. Modern day accounts of God showing us He is alive and active though his people, here and now, builds my faith in exponential ways.

The Holy Spirit will ask me the question when I set down a book like Called for Life once I have turned the last page. So what? Are you going to let this book change you in some way or are you going to stay the same?

I have had several days to think about what my take away would be. I am not a missionary doctor, my vocation is not one of working in a church. How does one translate holding out a hand to an Ebola patient in Liberia to living and working in Abilene, Tx? I think what I love so much about the account of Felicia is that Kent probably knew that he could not take away her Ebola. He knew that she would continue to become more sick each day. His job would be to help her medically how he could, but equally (or more) importantly was to let her know that she was not alone. The team at ELWA would walk it out with her. They would offer her dignity and assurance through her illness. This love that Kent and the team at ELWA would offer would be a supernatural love that comes from being a vessel of Jesus.

In scripture, just like the Good Samaritan stopped when the others had passed the beaten and broken man, maybe I can stop more often, too. It might not be convenient, but it probably wasn't convenient to move across the world to be a hand to hold for Felicia as she was dying. We can pray for God to bring people into our lives that could use a hand. We might not be able to fix or heal them, but we can walk beside.

There are worse things than struggling through life,... struggling alone. I cried the hardest when reading Called for Life when I read about the times Kent was alone as he was getting sicker and sicker. A friend or helping hand brings comfort even in the darkest of times. God was certainly with Kent, but he needed a physical presence in the room with him, too.

There are times that I have been able to walk along with others and just a physical presence has eased their pain. Many times other people have been that for me. God does not ever let that desire subside, He has lots for us to do. He has so much love to share and to be the vessel that the love flows through to others is such a gift. In the words of Samuel..."Here I am, Lord,.... I am listening...send me."

To sum up where I think God is tapping on my shoulder is to simply live a life of hospitality. What that means to me is welcoming others. Holding a hand out like Kent held his hand out. Offering a smile and kindness when there might be some discomfort for me, making others feel welcome and not judged or as though they have some sort of standard to live up to. Just being a friend.