Tuesday, August 5, 2014

thrust into the spotlight

10 days ago, most people in the world had never heard of SIM, even though our organization has been working around the globe for more than 120 years. The Ebola virus changed all that.

Now Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, President Obama, Donald Trump, the CDC, the WHO, and just about every other person with access to news in the developing world has heard of it.

Danny and I have been members of SIM for 12 years now, but as we settle into a new community, we're finding that lots of people we meet don't know what it is. Today's press release explains:
SIM is an international Christian mission with a staff of nearly 3,000 workers serving in more than 65 countries. In addition to medicine, SIM serves on every continent in areas of education, community development, public health and Christian witness. While SIM stood for Sudan Interior Mission when it was founded 120 years ago, it is now a global mission known as SIM. Two of SIM’s three founders died of disease within the first year of the organization’s founding. Yet SIM continued on to become one of the largest Christian medical missions in the world.
A few hours ago I watched a live press conference in Atlanta with our director, Bruce Johnson. No doubt his voice was heard on nearly every news network this evening. In the midst of a medical crisis, our SIM leaders and coworkers around the world have an unprecedented opportunity to "give an answer to anyone who asks us the reason for the hope we have" (1 Peter 3:15) in the face of suffering. Bruce did an outstanding job on this occasion, and he'll have many others in days to come. The disease threatening thousands of lives in West Africa may never have caught the attention of the West aside from this direct threat to American missionaries. Kent and Nancy are now known around the world as heroes who put themselves at risk for the sake of others in need.

I, for one, am grateful to belong to a band of people such as these. People who deliberately go where it's not safe. Who serve tirelessly where the need is greatest. Who have been doing so for ages without media attention. And who stand ready to give an answer for their hope in death's valley. Kent and Nancy (and the countless others like them who you will not see on the 10 o'clock news) remind me very much of Someone Else who gave up everything for the sake of the dying and lost His life in the process. May their tribe increase!

UPDATE 8/27/14: Last week Kent and Nancy were both released from Emory Hospital in Atlanta, virus-free! We're rejoicing in this answered prayer. Sadly, the virus continues to spread in West Africa. Pray that effective treatment will be developed and the spread will be stopped.

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