Columnist Ann Coulter sparked controversy over her recent column on Dr. Kevin Brantly. Brantly is the Christian missionary who contracted Ebola and is now in Atlanta for treatment. Coulter referred to him as an “idiot” and argued, in part, American Christian missionaries should work in their own country instead of going to other parts of the world.
I have no reservations or caveats in liking Ann Coulter. She is a warm, kind and generous person. I know this from my own experience. I must, however, disagree with her in this.
I have written several times that American Christians have a mission field in their own backyard that too many are ignoring. Too many Christians send their kids on church run beach trips to Mexico where they hammer nails for a few days while working on their tan. I think Protestants should be pouring money into building church-run schools that the poor can go to for free or at great discounts, emulating the Catholic Church. I think Christians should take up the cross in inner cities where too many liberal Christians preach a body nourishing social gospel that never feeds their soul.
I also think had St. Thomas stayed in Jerusalem instead of journeying to India, many Indians would have never found salvation through Christ. Had Paul stayed in Tarsus instead of going on his missionary journeys, we would not have his contribution to the body of faith or the churches he planted along the way. I also think American Christians can, like the apostles and other Christians before them, do more than just domestic missions. It should not be a binary decision.
Christianity has been a stabilizing influence around the world. Had Christian missionaries stayed in their home countries, the world would be worse off. Is the faith so small that Christ cannot spare one doctor to Liberia?
Should Jim Elliott have never gone into the jungle? He was savagely killed there. His death inspired countless Christians to follow in his footsteps delivering the gospel to places it had not. Christianity is not a zero sum game where one only wins if another loses. There are no losers except the Devil himself when a Christian goes therefore unto all the nations.
How many Liberians might come to know the Lord because of Dr. Brantly’s sacrifice? How many Americans, in an age of growing hostility to Christians, might see his sacrifice and pick up their own crosses? How many Liberians might grow in affection for the United States through Dr. Brantly’s sacrifice? We may never know the answer to any of these questions. But history itself shows us many will be saved and many will turn their hearts toward this great country. Christians should be focused on saving souls where the Lord leads them and lends them talent. We should all praise the work of the Holy Spirit in so doing.
Surely Christians in America can spare one man to Africa or even 10. After all, Christians are to save souls, not just American ones. Had Dr. Brantly gone to our southern border and provided his services there, some would attack him for helping illegal aliens.
But Dr. Brantly, as do we all, goes where the Holy Spirit leads. I don’t think we should be in the business of questioning the motives or direction of any Christian led by the Lord to any corner of the Earth -- particularly when the missionary is prepared to lay down his life for a stranger merely because Christ said, “Go ye therefore ...”
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.