Atheist Upset Christian Docs Are Treating Ebola In Africa

Are missionary doctors and nurses who are risking their own life to treat Africans infected with Ebola making atheists and secularists look bad? From reading Brian Palmer, Slate’s science writer and a self proclaimed atheist, it sure seems like that’s the case. It pains him greatly to admit this but he’s honest enough to write…

“Missionary doctors and nurses are stationed throughout Africa, in rural outposts and urban slums. Rather than parachuting in during crises, like some international medicine specialists, a large number of them have undertaken long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans.”

What really bothers Palmer is that these medical missionaries do their work in the name of Christ. “It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?” And it drives him crazy that one long term doc isn’t aggressive about sharing his faith but tells his patients, “I’m treating you because of what God has given me and his love for me.”

Palmer goes on to state that missionary docs don’t do everything “by the book” and that they often fail to report their data to the World Health Organization but then admits that these “criticisms” are rooted in his own personal bias.

“And yet, truth be told, these valid critiques don’t fully explain my discomfort with missionary medicine. If we had thousands of secular doctors doing exactly the same work, I would probably excuse most of these flaws. “They’re doing work no one else will,” I would say. “You can’t expect perfection.”

Reading this article I’m left with the impression that Brian Palmer is embarrassed that his fellow atheists and secularists are being made to look bad by a bunch of Jesus loving medical missionaries who are willing to give up a comfortable standard of living and risk their own health in order to serve those in desperate need of basic medical attention all in the name of Christ.

He’s not alone. Julian the Apostate, whose uncle was Constantine, became emperor of Rome in 361 A. D. After leaving the Christian faith for paganism, he initiated persecution agains the church only to see it continue to grow. His explanation for the rise of Christianity (he calls it “atheism”) is crystal clear:

“Why do we not observe that it is the Christians’ benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead and the pretended holiness of their lives that have done the most to increase atheism? When the impious Galileans support not only their own poor, but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us!”

So it seems that Brian Palmer, and others like him, join a long list of people who recognize that Christians’ acts of love and self sacrifice are a powerful witness to the truth of the gospel and spur the growth of the church. Palmer never says that the medical missionaries are doing anything wrong. Almost the opposite. He says that they are doing something right and it’s making his team (what Ross Douthat calls “Team Secularism”) look bad.

Final Thought: Is there some act of love and self sacrifice toward someone in need that you could do today in the name of Christ? Is there someone who is overlooked or who is hurting that you could call or send a card or fix a meal or lend some money or visit at the hospital or rake their leaves? It’s often the “small” acts of love that God uses to gain a hearing for the gospel and draw people to Jesus.


One Comment

  1. I’m an atheist and this guy is sick. Most Christians are decent, hardworking people – even the ones that I disagree with about everything have always been warm and caring people.

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