It is hard to relay the emotional and spiritual experience of living through an epidemic or pandemic to those who haven’t yet experienced it. While we have been blessed to live in America at a time where epidemics have been distant memories, many living overseas have had the experience of living through such times.
My wife Megan and I experienced our first epidemic while living in Sierra Leone in 2012. Right before the Ebola outbreaks of 2013-14, Sierra Leone experienced their worst cholera outbreak in 2012. We lived on a small peninsula outside of the capital, which led to our community being impacted to a greater degree than others.
When the first seasonal rains came, we only heard a distant wave of rumors and reports of cases. Then the first few outbreaks happened in our own community. Then the variety of responses began swirling. Some spread misinformation, others spread uncertainty and fear. Many people began to hunker down, and we even did ourselves to protect our son who was only two years old at the time.
But soon another response emerged, particularly after the first death in our immediate community. A group of young Christian leaders gathered with community leaders to formulate a plan to lean in. Their goal was to educate the community on prevention and treatment. They gathered supplies, networked with community members and ultimately organized gatherings. They invited Megan, who is a certified Community Health Educator, to provide presentations to the local churches, mosques, and wherever else people gathered. And through their work we soon saw cases decrease and eventually the outbreak completely subsided in our community.
This experience has been on my mind and heart a lot during our current circumstances. We’ve each been able to adjust to our “new normals” and managed working at home and educating at home. But let us also not forget that we also have the responsibility as Christians to reach out to those around us and love them during this time.
As our friends from Rwanda recently shared on the eve of marking the 26th anniversary of the genocide, “let us ask God to give us a message to share with the people who don’t know our beloved Jesus Christ.” A message that can be both embodied and proclaimed. They shared 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
The number of our neighbors here in Milwaukee who need comfort in this time is great. The needs are varied. It can be very difficult to stay on top of everything that is going on in the community. That is why we have created this temporary blog as a resource page to encourage, empower, and equip each member of Eastbrook Church to lean in to our community during COVID-19.
Together, let’s move forward together and lean into the lives of those around us. Stay tuned for weekly needs, opportunities and resources for you and your family. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Dan Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.