EBOLA: SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?
The story won’t go away, will it? Because this killer virus doesn’t seem to go away. Now Dallas is jittery all over again with the announcement that a second nurse who treated the deceased Liberian Ebola-infected patient is herself infected with Ebola. And now a whole new network of family, neighbors, associates must be staked out to determine if this infected nurse accidently infected one of them as well. Add to these concerns the World Health Organization’s announcement this week that the infection rate of Ebola in West Africa will accelerate in two months to as many as 10,000 new cases a week. How does the global community build a fire-wall around that number? It doesn’t take an epidemiologist to recognize that just a handful of breaches in quarantine efforts—just a few infected humans slipping across a border or two into a previously uncontaminated region or country—could conceivably turn this regional plague into a trans-African crisis of unimagined proportions. And then how long would the rest of the world remain untouched? Just the typical media hype? I’m not so sure anymore. I read a report this week from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (part of the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota) stating: “We believe there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients”—the implication being that “healthcare workers should be wearing respirators, not facemasks” (http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2014/09/commentary-health-workers-need-optimal-respiratory-protection-ebola). I.e., the virus may be transmitted in the air surrounding an infected victim. If those CIDRAP concerns are valid, then obviously the spread of Ebola virus is no longer limited to contact with bodily fluids. But doesn’t God promise, “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling” (Psalm 91:10)? The Adventist Review reported this week that Ebola has killed 16 Adventists in West Africa. The truth is, divine protection was never intended to be a permanent immune shield for the ills and evils of this planet. Then should we be worried? No. We should be concerned, deeply concerned both for the plight of the inhabitants of West Africa and for a world where “pestilences” will abound until Christ returns (Matthew 24:7). And where we can, let us act on our compassion in humanitarian ways that can help alleviate human suffering. We must respond like Jesus. (Go to Adventist Frontier Missions—www.afmonline.org—for ways you can respond.) In the meantime let us not dismiss too quickly the disequilibrium Ebola has already injected into global consciousness. Should this epidemic jump the firewall, life on this planet will be radically altered. And the difficulty of communicating God’s last appeal “to every nation, tribe, tongue and people” will be significantly ramped up. Jesus’ description of the global psyche when He returns may not be so far off—“men’s hearts failing them from fear” (Luke 21:26). So with hope and an urgency borne of compassion let us go to our neighbors and nations with the announcement that the Healer of the human family is coming soon. “Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45:22).