by Carol Spears
“I’m scared, Doc. I don’t want to get this virus.” These were the words of my associate, a wonderful young Muslim woman with young children. Her face was full of anxiety and despair. I whispered a silent prayer as I sought to reassure her and give her hope. I wanted to echo and further explain the message that has been communicated from the leadership of our Christian mission hospital in the Middle East – “God is in control, our hope is in Him.”
I have the privilege, and rather unique situation, of working at a Christian hospital in a Muslim country in the Arabian Peninsula. We are fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with the royal family in this country who donated the beautiful modern facility that we work in. Our government responded quickly and aggressively to the threat of coronavirus with early closures and restrictions that so far have been effective in limiting the rapid expansion of COVID-19. The Ministry of Health and other government health agencies are working closely with both government and private hospitals to do detailed planning and preparation. A whole team of our staff is on overdrive, similar to most places around the world, creating processes, procedures, and protective measures for staff and patients. The quality of their work is on par with anything in the major developed countries around the world, and they are doing a fantastic job. All of this preparation, however, does not allay the fear and anxiety of people like my young friend.
This country is home to people from over 190 countries around the world who make up 88% of the population. Our hospital staff come from over forty different countries and many different world religions. This diversity ranges from the top leadership team to the doctors, nursing staff, support staff, gardeners, and cleaners. This creates a unique hospital culture and challenges, as well as unique opportunities to be “Light” and to give “Hope” to patients, as well as co-workers.
As I thought about what sets us apart in how we are responding to this pandemic crisis, the answer is not in our detailed policies, procedures, and preparedness – although those things are impressive. But rather in how we are attempting to show that we care. We are responding in a way that communicates the love of Jesus and the hope that is in Him – to both our staff and our patients – and our prayer is that this will have impact around the world. For our patients, we commit to provide medical and surgical care on par with the best standard of care available – and for that care to be carried out with the love and compassion of Jesus. That loving care is why patients come to this hospital.
What about the anxiety of our staff who are on the frontline? As the crisis began to intensify, there was a corresponding response from the hospital leadership offering encouraging words of Scripture, giving hope and reminding us of the sovereignty of God. Decorative signs went up around the hospital with reminders to Stay Calm and Trust God and that our Hope is in Him.
The hospital core values of Being Christlike, Restoring the Broken, Intentional Relationship, and Being Rooted in Community are demonstrated by these examples of how hospital staff are being treated and assisted:
For people like my young Muslim coworker, these responses have provided hope and comfort that go beyond what is happening in other facilities in our community.
I feel blessed and thankful to be a part of living out the gospel in this part of the world. No matter where we live and no matter what our healthcare role may be, we can point others to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10