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gess sierre leone

I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Lowell Gess recently.  For those of you who don't know who this is, I would encourage you to listen to the short podcast.  Dr. Gess has great insight when it comes to pandemics given his experience traveling to Sierre Leone at the height of the Ebola crisis in early 2015 when he was 93 years old.  As he shares, at some point in his correspondence with his beloved staff at the Kissy Eye Hospital in Freetown, telling them that he was praying for them was just not enough.   He felt he had to put some actions behind his prayers so he bought a ticket to travel there even covertly from his family.  

gess podcast

Dr. Gess spent over 2 months in Freetown at a time in which nearly 500 people were dying per week.  While he was there he prayed and comforted the staff and those in the church even though he stated that he didn't touch anyone for 2 1/2 months.  Upon his return from Sierre Leone, he quanrantined himself in his Minnesota home for 3 weeks and wrote the book - Ebola's Den to document his work while he was there.  Of note, he was reportedly the first doctor to discover the presence of uveitis in Ebola survivors.  Since then he has partnered with Dr Stephen Yeh of Emory University who has been one of the leading researchers in this area.  The whole crisis claimed nearly 4000 lives including that of 12 doctors and over 100 health care workers in a country of just 7 million.

Make sure also to read this article published in EyeWorld in April 2020 - Medical missionary shares insights on practicing amid epidemics.

Quick google searches also reveal a number of great articles and Youtube videos that detail other parts of his life:

 

Lastly, I'd like to share a short devotional that Dr. Gess shared with me the day after our interview: 

“THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR”

The words of Dr. Stan Pletcher are so apt:  “A lot of people are stressed out, scared to death about getting sick, losing a loved one to COVID19, or losing their job or their business…there are a lot of reasons to be afraid right now.”  He raises the question of how help can be given to be unafraid.

Psalm 91 addresses the problem…

                “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
                                will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
                I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,
                                my God, in whom I trust.

                Surely he will save you
                                from the fowler’s snare
                                and from the deadly pestilence.
                He will cover you with his feathers,
                                and under his wings you will find refuge,
                                his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
                You will not fear the terror of night,
                                nor the arrow that flies by day,
                Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
                                nor the plague that destroys at midday.
                A thousand may fall at your side,
                                ten thousand at your right hand,
                                but it will not come near you.
                You will only observe with your eyes
                                And see the punishment of the wicked.               

                If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’
                                and you make the Most High your dwelling,
                no harm will overtake you,
                                no disaster will  come near your tent.
                For he will command his angels concerning you
                                O guard you in all your ways;
                they will lift you up on their hands,
                                so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
                You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
                                you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
                Because he loves me, says the Lord, “I will rescue him;

                                I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
                                I will be with him in trouble,
                                I will deliver him and honor him.
                With long life I will satisfy him
                                and show him my salvation.(NIV)

This Psalm ministered to me when I was in Sierra Leone in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in 2015. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways” Psalm 91:11 (KJV). It is appropriate for the Covid19 pandemic of 2020. 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV).
“Bless the Lord O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” Psalm 103:1 (KJV).  Amen and Amen