Sunday, March 1, 2015

Listening to a hero . . .

Today I sat in church and was privileged to listen to a hero.

Dr. Kent Brantly didn't go searching for greatness, nor has he sought celebrity.  Rather, he is one of those people who had celebrity thrust upon him.

Last July, news hit that a young American doctor, married with two children, had contracted the deadly Ebola virus.  He was a medical missionary working in Liberia, helping with the Ebola outbreak.  After a week where he hung between life and death, he was evacuated on a medical transport and brought to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.  He recovered.  Since then, he has been speaking about his experiences to audiences throughout the United States.  Today, we were the audience that was privileged to listen to him.

He is not a hero because he survived Ebola.  Rather, he is a hero because of how he has used and is using those experiences.

Kent Brantly is the nephew of one of the ministers at my church.  During his talk, he commented that if it were not for the Ebola, it wouldn't matter how great of a person his uncle thought he was, he (Kent) wouldn't be up there talking!  (That line got a laugh from everyone.)

I had thought that he would tell his story about how he got Ebola and how he dealt with those days until he was brought to Emory.  And while he did share some details of that story, that was not the focus of his visit.

In our Sunday School, he spoke about being an "ambassador for Christ", and said that his goal was to find a way to be the hands and feet of God.  It was that goal that eventually led him to become a doctor.  It wasn't because of fame, celebrity or prestige.  What he wanted was to be God's hands and feet--which is what we, as Christians, are all called to do.

In speaking of his illness, being brought to Emory, and getting well, he said that while he did believe that his being alive was a miracle, he wasn't sure where the miracle was.  Was it that ZMapp, the experimental drug, was available to him, and that he was willing to be the guinea pig for that drug? Was it the logistics that all came together--including someone in the State Department that decided that Dr. Brantly needed the help--that got him to Emory?  Was it that the staff at Emory unanimously said "Yes!" when asked, do we bring him here?  (I would like to think that maybe "the miracle" was how all of that worked together.)

I got two impressions while I was listening to Dr. Brantly talk.

One was, "I could do that.  I could be the hands and feet of Jesus."  That is a different perspective than the one I got during my college days, when "ambassador for Christ" meant "sharing your faith", which meant "invite everyone you see to church, study the Bible (really, that meant "study our study series with them") and get them into the baptistry.  Once there, you teach them to do the same things, and that is how you bear fruit.  If you do not do this, or if you do this and you do not have 'success', you are a failure as a Christian."

The other was the sentence that dropped into my brain, "Dedicate your writing to God."

Dr. Brantly asked the question, how can we live as ambassadors for Christ wherever we are?

He also said that he'd learned, God will give you everything you need to be faithful to him.

When Don spoke to Dr. Brantly during our church service, he asked the question, "Why are you comfortable with Christ as your master?"

In answering that question, Dr. Brantly referred to his favorite book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  When, in the land of Narnia, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver were telling the Pevensie children about Aslan the lion, they asked, "Is Aslan safe?"

Their answer: Aslan wasn't safe.  But he was good.

God isn't safe.  But God is good.  I don't understand all of the ways he works, nor do I understand why he does what he does.  But I do believe he is good.

The last sentences I have in my notes for today is, "Mission is not a location.  God invites us to join his story where we are."

So what's my takeaway?

1.  I can be the hands and feet of Jesus, wherever I am, whenever I am, wherever I go.  I'm not completely sure what that's going to look like, but I do understand that it involves loving God, loving my neighbor as I love myself, doing good to all, avoiding evil.

2.  I can give my writing to God.  I believe that writing is a gift from God, and I want to use it for

3.  The experiences I have had, I can use those in joining God's story.

So, here I am.  I am joining God's story, right here, right now.

Come join with me.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.


  1. Here's the video of Dr. Brantly's talk to our Sunday School:

  2. -- This is the video of Don's interview with Dr. Brantly during our Sunday worship.