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PREVENTING A POST-ANTIBIOTIC APOCALYPSE

Neal Pollard

Economist Jim O’Neill had readied a report about drug-resistant infections, “bacteria and other microbes that have become impervious to antibiotics” (The Atlantic, Ed Yong, 5/19/16). O’Neill’s prognostication is grim and macabre. On our current trajectory, 10 million will die every year by the year 2050 and that doesn’t include those undergoing procedures only safe because of antibiotics (surgeries, transplants, and chemotherapy, for example). No doubt, this report is no fodder for a bedtime story, but it is not without suggestions of what can be done to prevent such an ominous occurrence. O’Neill gives a nice, round ten suggestions to avert this potential “plague” on humanity.  They include: improve sanitation, a global surveillance network, a public-awareness campaign, better diagnostic tools, avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics in agriculture, promote effective alternatives, improve incentives for workers, rewards those working on the problem, adequately fund those working, and build a global coalition (ibid.). All in all, this seems like a practical, workable solution.

I read this in light of the global epidemic you and I are engaged in to fight together. It is the most dangerous threat any of us will face and it will be with us, if the world continues, in 2050 and beyond. What I find interesting is that many of O’Neill’s suggestions for fighting these microbes are the marching orders God has given us to fight our plaguing antagonist—sin.  Holiness, unity, improved evangelism, Bible study, avoid unnecessary fights, example, focusing more on eternity, better giving, and increased mission efforts all factor in saving more souls! It’s a system that will work locally, nationally, and globally.

Frankly, we don’t know that O’Neill’s prediction will come to pass. But, the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that “it is appointed unto men once to die, and then the Judgment” (Heb. 9:27). The majority will be lost (cf. Mat. 7:13-14)! God is counting on us, Christians, stemming that tide as much as possible (Mark 16:15-16).  Every individual you and I reach with the gospel is one less who will succumb to this eternally fatal threat!

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Current Events salvation

PLAGUE IN MADAGASCAR

Neal Pollard

It is hard to believe that bubonic plague could be a problem in any country in the 21st Century, but that is exactly the case in the African nation of Madagascar.  Helped mainly by extreme unsanitary conditions in that nation’s prisons, 20 people died from the plague there just in the first week of December. There were 256 cases and 60 deaths in 2012, and while that is nothing to compare to the 25 million deaths in Europe during the Middle Ages it is alarming.  Since inmates’ relatives visit those detained, the disease can leap the walls of confinement and become an epidemic throughout the impoverished country bereft of a good, organized public health system. Though 90% of the world’s plague cases have occurred in Madagascar and the D.R.C., there have been outbreaks in India, Indonesia and Algeria in the last decade or so and this summer Kyrgyzstan had its first plague case (and death) in 30 years.  While it seems like ancient history, the last global pandemic occurred just over 100 years ago ( (BBC Scotland, BBC Africa; Quartz).

Read any medieval chronicles of the black death and they seem like horror stories, compounded in those days by the people’s ignorance concerning how the disease spread.  But what was obvious was how swift, painful, and fatal it was.  The resilience of the disease is demonstrated in the fact that it can still be a story today, despite the development of antibiotics and sophisticated means of detecting and preventing it.

Sin is a spiritual disease that cannot be contained by geographical boundaries, technology, medicine, education, or any such potential preventative.  While its effects impact the unseen part of a person, its threat is eternally more great.  People who die with it untreated are lost forever.  There are ways to cope with the symptoms, but there is only one cure.  It is universally accessible and no one who seeks treatment will fail to have the cure.  If we can fathom ourselves, as Christians, and relay to the lost how terrible the sickness of sin really is, we will reach more people and lives will be saved!  Of all the Bible passages that speak of the matter, perhaps none is more impassioned than Paul’s words to Rome as he says, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 7:22-8:1).