It was a case of death, it was not a case of life, many people were dying, not many were living, and there was a chance to survive, but the report that there was not cure for the virus caused many to throw their hands in the air.
It was an uncertain period and surviving demanded the intervention of God, many people claimed.
But the morning after three family members perished, hundreds jammed the local community church on Bushrod Island, and like the people of the Biblical Nineveh, tore their clothes and disorganized their hair and from morning till night, refrained from food.
Twenty eight year-old Jason Mandela emerged from his self-imposed fast, with vigor and expectation from a group, including Pastor John Towah in tow. The withering evening cold seethed through the environment as the two men reclined on soft chairs for reflection. The invitation had come from Mandela and the pastor was willing to answer to his concerns.
“God heard the people of Nineveh,” Mandela said with references to the Writ, “and he would by no means hear our pleas.” The pastor chuckled with excitement.
“He would definitely do as we have requested.” Mandela could not restrain a smile, despite the harrowing experience of losing more than seven family members, including his mother and a sister.
“Does the Lord destroy the just with the unjust,” a question that the pastor was apparently prepared for, made certain for his years as a man who searched the Scriptures, and was able to see the angle of the conversation.
“The Lord is just and he would by no means destroy the just along with the unjust.” He explained further the incident recorded in scripture about the doom cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And offered more reasons why the just would not be swept away with the unjust.
“The patriarch Abraham was allowed to plead with the Lord to save the few just and as a result to have saved the many who were unjust,” a statement that Mandela nodded in appreciation.
But Mandela could not fail to throw the next question, which intruded his mind, since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease.
“Are we a doom generation?” The pastor emitted a grave smile and urging Mandela to look at him, he shook his head, as a consequence.
“What could make you ask such a question?” Mandela could not retain his surprise, for the pastor’s reaction and sweeping his head away from the pastor folded his hands across his chest. The evening was approaching fast and the echoes of automobile engines filled the air.
But to his utter surprise, Mandela could feel the pastor regaining his composure and excitement in his eyes.
“It would be unfair to assign any evil with the Lord,” he said, “but due to our limited understanding as to how the Lord works, many people are quick to place their difficulties onto the Lord and when tough times come, credit him of their sufferings.”
Mandela then said, “Should we not throw our burden on to the Lord?”
“You should by any means.”
“How is it different from what I said earlier?”
The pastor could not fail to catch the sarcasm in Mandela’s eyes, and he went on in full blast, for he would be remiss if he failed to defend the Lord in this instance.
“Throwing your burden on the Lord is not the same as suggesting that we are part of a doom generation. May the Lord’s name be praised, for it is clearly a situation where human mistakes ganged up to destroy what belongs to the Lord to shame.
“Like before the destruction of the doom cities Sodom and Gomorrah, it is a question of trusting in the Lord, for he is mysterious in his saving grace.”
The young man’s interest heightened.
“When will the Lord speak?” he knew his question was deliberate, an intentional response to get the man of God out open up. ‘The Lord saves,’ yes he was aware of what he did in ancient Israel. But when would the Lord speak to set the records straight. There had been heart rendering issues in the land, and Liberians knew that. What did the Lord’s saving grace in the days of old mean to the present? Many, including good men who were willing to take care of those who were infected with the deadly virus, perished, and yet the Lord had not spoken.
Drawing him out from his reverie, the pastor explained that though the Lord had not spoken, as many of the faithful would have expected he had already spoken, just that people were not aware of it.
“Scripture provides us a deeper meaning of what we must do as a people to take care of any problem like what we have right now,” he said, and the young man had no alternative but to smile, with some purpose.
This was when the pastor, most especially said, “Like the case of the city of Nineveh, the Lord realized the iniquities of the people and therefore sent his prophet to declare the danger that was coming.
“It is of interest that aware of the Lord’s kindness and considering that we are dust, the prophet, in this case Jonah knew about the Lord’s kindness to forgive those he was sent to proclaim their doom.” The young man could not but offer a discerning smile, for the Lord’s patience he knew was beyond compare to that of his created beings. He knew man’s inhumanity to man, and the recent war in which whole families perished deliberately which could not be compared to the goodness of the creator of all mankind.
Pastor Towah apparently was thinking on the same line, when he responded with a sense of appreciation to the Lord’s dealings with his creation.
“Human beings may show off their kindness to the suffering, but in truth human weakness is so overwhelming that in actual fact if the world had responded to the Ebola crisis as expected, there is every sense that we would not have suffered and lost hundreds of people.”
The young man nodded in agreement for he held the belief that the universal creator was more considerate and compassionate in his dealings with mankind than mankind and its dealing with its own. Mandela knew the sorry record of mankind against itself, and with a little recognition he realized that the creator of everything living was more considerate than mankind itself.
The pastor might have apparently read his mind, and he followed up with a conclusion that his listener could not deny.
“Jonah as a prophet had been aware of the goodness of the Lord; he was aware of God’s unparallel judicial decisions offered the people of Israel.
“He apparently followed God’s divine justice when Moses led the Jews from captivity and later in the days of prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel and therefore he knew, and therefore Jonah could make many references about God’s willingness to forgive the erring people of Nineveh.”
Then Mandela interrupted with a question. “Was Jonah not interested in the amazing forgiveness of the creator of everything living?” Mandela knew his question could get the pastor to open up. And the pastor could not prevent a mild smile.
“That is an interesting question, but don’t forget that he made an attempt not to carry out the divine judgment against the people of Nineveh.
“Remember that whatever his interest and maturity, he was simply a human and there was evidently an urgency bothered on anger to see the Lord handle the situation from his standpoint, which the Lord later, contrary dramatized when what gave him a wonderful rest was removed and he showed similar anger.” Mandela now could see the situation from a positive angle, for man’s actions were not meant to help his kind, and even if man had the means to make the world a little better, his in-born tendency to show off and identify with his self destructive ego, was too glaring for him to ignore.
Liberians were dying, that was evidently true, and there was evident that many others were surviving, which was also true. What was responsible for the two groups then?
“I’m getting the message that,” Mandela said with some purpose, “our survival depends on what we reasonably do as a consequence of what is happening here.” The pastor once again could not refrain from a hearty smile.
And his response was calculated to serve as a purpose and also to remind his listener that to survive in the current Ebola scourge meant the deliberate use of preventive measures with the intent of staying alive.
Mandela could not fail to appreciate God’s provision and the means to save mankind in a situation that by all accounts, demanded the use of information for survival. The Lord would provide a means, true, but is a means to use common sense measures, to stay alive.
In the end, Mandela realized that when all had been settled and there were remnants of the Ebola scourge, there would be celebrations and thanksgiving to the Lord, concerning his amazing grace.
As the two men left each other, Mandela was convinced that while divine justice did not overwhelm the people of Nineveh, it was not the case with Liberia and her neighbors. And therefore if anyone would want to twist the current epidemic and blame it on the Lord, since he is the maker and knower of all things, Mandela would denounce him, for God’s grace was sufficient for all.