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Serving in a Pandemic: Don’t Worry, I’ve Got This

March 26, 2020
Photo of a man wearing a blue suit with red tie

By Dr. B, serving in Central Asia

Our family medicine clinic has been in high gear for several days now as it hopes for the best but prepares for the worst. A medical bag has been assembled in order to visit people in their homes who need acute medical attention. The family medicine residents have been actively working on a website for our clinic to screen potential patients before they overwhelm the clinic with non-life-threatening conditions. 

And I have been busy guiding the process. The nursing staff indicate that we need more masks. The residents ask whether we can include the country’s other family medicine residents (in total over 100!) at the Coronavirus lecture that I will be giving this week. The managers wonder how we can get our staff into the clinic now that the public transportation has been curtailed. 

And those are just the internal issues. Various local and ex-patriate agencies are also reaching out to us to see what help we can provide if the epidemic affects their members. Churches and embassies are all asking what the clinic can do and how much it will cost. 

Things reached a crisis today when the government announced that major cities in the country will be placed on “lock-down.” Although medicine is a necessary service, the new rules were still causing problems for our staff. The clinic director, building manager and director of human resources all came into my office, worried about the impact that the new rules would have on our team. They said, “We have to close the clinic. Our staff won’t be able to come in, and there won’t be any patients. Even if we take phone calls, we won’t be able to visit them in their homes.” 

My heart sank. I had been saying, “God put us here for such a time as this.” I was sure that God would use us to make a difference for His Kingdom in a time of crisis, and now this. “We’ll open tomorrow anyway,” I said. “Even if no one else comes, I will be here.” But inside, my heart was heavy. “What now, God?” 

It was barely five minutes after the three managers left the office that a well-dressed gentleman walked in. He wore a tie and had a silk handkerchief stylishly folded in his left breast pocket. 

“How can I help you?” I asked.

 “I need a refill of my medication,” he responded.

 And so began the usual banter that I have with my patients. Where are you from? How long have you been here? What do you do? How did you hear about us?

He said, “The US ambassador told me about you.” Wait, what? The US ambassador? Who talks to the US ambassador?

“Who are you?” I asked.

 “I am the country director for the United Nations,” he responded. And he went on to say, “I can’t believe that I’ve been here for over two years, and I’ve never heard about you! All my colleagues speak highly of your service to our people, and I have been wanting to discuss the possibility of an agreement with your clinic to provide healthcare for our members,” he continued.

I responded, “Well, we seem to be having some difficulty right now with moving freely around the city in order to serve our patients.”

He answered, “That would not be a problem if you were acting as an agent of the UN. Let me talk to my people, and they will get back to you in the next day or so!”

As this distinguished gentleman left my office, I felt God saying to me, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this!” I was overwhelmed by a sudden sense of His presence with me in the room. I had been trying so hard to hold it all together in the kind of crisis that only happens once in a century, and God comes to me, holds me in His hands and say, “I am here.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1 (NIV)