I’m so glad my favorite guest writer Stephen’s back again to kick off the new year with a new post on what’s now an old topic — Covid.
This time it’s an interesting account of a trip he made with his wife to Greece and Turkey last Oct/Nov and their surprising encounter with Covid.
Please read on!
An Unexpected Journey
It was an unforgettable trip. But not for the reasons we had expected from a holiday.
Our recent tour to Turkey and Greece was to trace the footsteps of Apostle Paul in his evangelistic journeys across Asia Minor where he carried the Good News of Jesus Christ to Jews and Gentiles and built churches along the way.
My wife Sally and I – together with 36 other excited Christians from nine different churches in Singapore – could not wait to explore all the places we only read about in the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation where Jesus wrote his seven letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor (now called Turkey or Turkiye, the name the Turkish government wants the world to now call it.)
We had 12 days to cover the seven cities where the seven churches used to be, including stopovers in places mentioned in other parts of the Bible’s New Testament, like the Book of Acts. There was also a three-day cruise to Greece to visit Athens and Santorini.
If all that sounds hectic and arduous, it was!
Turkey is not a small country and we traveled from one place to another by coach. And in between long bumpy rides from place to place, we were put in beautiful hotels by the tour organizer.
But guess what? We only stayed one night in each!
There was no time to enjoy the five-star facilities at all. We spent every night packing our luggage to leave the next morning.
If you think this is bad, wait for it.
What I really want to share about this trip is what I call “The Covid Controversy.”
The Covid Controversy…
It all started with one case when a member of our group of 38 tested positive for Covid during the tour, and he told our group leader.
What happened next was a disaster (okay maybe not a disaster like hospitalizations or lockdowns or being stranded in a foreign land).
A poll was taken among members to ask everyone if he should remain on the trip.
Outcome? He was “abandoned”!
Though most of us were bold and compassionate and had voted to include him rather than leave him behind, sadly the minority won. This was partly because a few of them were older folks and were afraid to catch the virus. A few others were also worried they would not be able to go on the cruise as the cruise had a zero-Covid policy for all passengers.
So our Covid-positive friend (and his wife) were left behind in the hotel when we left for our next stop in our itinerary. And he was fuming mad! He was angry because first, he wasn’t told about the poll, and second, he wasn’t given a say if he wanted to stay behind.
…that went “viral”
But guess what!
Over the next few days, a few of us experienced flu-like symptoms, so we took ART tests and were … positive! Including me and Sally.
And just before the cruise, all of us took the compulsory PCR tests taken by the cruise medical staff. Half of us were Covid-positive!
But here’s the good news. For some reason I’m still not clear to this day, the cruise medical director allowed all of us to board! But with one condition, he said – always wear a mask on board. Not a problem since all of us on the tour had already been wearing masks since day one.
So Covid or no Covid, we could board the cruise. Talk about a miracle!
To cap it all, our first Covid-positive friend and his wife (who by now also tested positive) were also allowed to board the cruise and join us in all our subsequent activities. Personally, I was quite sick on the first day I caught the virus but God healed me quickly the next day. And thank God most of us had mild symptoms and could enjoy the rest of our time.
Life Lesson #1 — No one should be left behind
From this, I learned two important life lessons.
I believe God has vindicated the first Covid-positive member for our very bad decision to abandon him halfway. God in His sovereign plan allowed the virus to hit half of us even though this poor guy did not join us after that unfortunate poll.
It’s a lesson for me about the unity of the body of Christ — the Church — and about not leaving the weak behind.
The Bible says we together as Christians, regardless of our church or denomination, are like a body. In Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he said, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
The connection between people as members of the body of Christ should be like the connection of a human body.
For when one part hurts – like this Covid case No. 1 – we do not cut him off. We do not abandon him and go our own way. We stay and we stick with him because he’s a part of us.
Life Lesson #2 — Don’t fear Covid. Love one another instead.
I believe God is also teaching me that love for one another should overcome our fear of man or disease.
The reason why we have hospitals today is that Christians in the first century started them by taking care of the sick when everyone else abandoned them.
Christians took care of those with leprosy and infectious diseases at the risk of getting infected themselves. That’s how the Gospel spread. That’s how Christianity grew. Love must trump fear.
In 1 John 4:18, we read “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
I’m not sure if it’s a punishment that 19 of us (probably more at the last count) caught Covid after we abandoned our Covid case no. 1.
But I am grateful to God for this tour even though it was a hectic and punishing trip.
It was truly unforgettable, mostly because of the unforgettable lessons God taught me.