An atheist, Brian Palmer, has penned an article for Slate with a subtitle, Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries? In this article Palmer demonstrates that he is worried. In his own words, here is his problem:
And yet, for secular Americans—or religious Americans who prefer their medicine to be focused more on science than faith—it may be difficult to shake a bit of discomfort with the situation. Our historic ambivalence toward missionary medicine has crystallized into suspicion over the past several decades. It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?
In other words, the very motivation that causes these men and women to leave behind the medical wealth in America to serve peoples with little or no healthcare is the problem. He seems concerned that those motivated by pure science and humanitarianism haven’t been likewise motivated.
Palmer concedes that even when governments and scientists respond to moments of crisis, the effect is not the same as those who invest their lives.
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.
But one does not have to travel to the rural outposts of Africa to see the effect of Christians motivated to serve God and their fellow men. Who does Palmer think founded the majority of hospitals in our own country. Take a look at almost any regional directory of hospitals in the United States. You will surely find hospital names that include words like Baptist, Methodist or some other religious identifier.
Sadly, like institutions of education, many of these no longer function with the original Christian mandates from their founders. But that does not mean that we do not owe much of our own healthcare to the work of medical ministers in our own land.
As to the medical missionaries who treat the sick of the world in the name of Jesus, may their tribe increase.