By Belen M. Lohr ’01
The other day it dawned on me that the word “quarantine” comes from the Latin root “quadraginta,” meaning “40.” The number rang in my mind, evoking thoughts of Jesus on His journey through the desert, fasting and praying for His Father’s guidance. Alone. Isolated. For a whole “quarantine.”
The number also reminded me of a story shared by my friends Herbert N. Giebel ’88 and his wife, Gail, who work at Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore, India. This story was written by a young Muslim man, the son of one of their patients.
“One hot summer day, my father began to have cold symptoms which soon progressed into a wet cough with bloody sputum. He was having trouble breathing, so we took him to the government hospital where he was tested for COVID-19 and admitted. The positive result came as a shock to all of us, not only because it meant the whole family had to be isolated, but also because we were worried about his care at the government hospital. For many years our family has trusted the CMC. My great-grandfather moved to this area from the north during the early revolts against the British. That is when he met and had many conversations with Dr. Ida Scudder, so his whole life he had deep faith in the CMC, bringing all our sick ones to this hospital. My father’s illness should be no different, but due to strict COVID-19 rules, it took over a week to convince the hospital staff to let my father be transferred to the CMC.
“That’s when the difficult 40 days without my father started. With the isolation rules, I could not communicate with him until a kind doctor helped connect us through video, which was such a blessing. As he became more short of breath, he had a tracheostomy done and could no longer talk to us, but we could still see him through video and know that he could hear us. I am thankful to say that I am taking my father home today. These 40 days have laid a heavy impression on my life, and I will never forget the many kind doctors who patiently answered my every request, put my worst fears to rest, and gave me the assurance that my father would get better. I must admit though, that finances have not been easy. Our textiles shop has been closed for the last four months due to the lockdown and with my siblings still in school, money has become very tight. And I know that my father worries about this, too, since the first question in his eyes today was, ‘How did you handle the expenses?’ ”
CMC wrote off the patient’s unpaid balance as a result of the funds raised by AIMS and distributed to multiple overseas hospitals impacted by this pandemic. I am inspired to see our missionaries ministering to patients and their families. I think of those 40 days or the “quarantine” Jesus spent in the desert, and how even our loving Savior needed to be ministered to by angels. He calls us to be His hands and feet by ministering to others. Thank you for helping us answer that call.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 25:40 (NIV).