The always provocative Ann Coulter raised a lot of eyebrows this week with her Wednesday column calling a Christian missionary who contracted ebola in Liberia “idiotic.” Headlines making the rounds on social media do a fair job of highlighting her pointed rhetoric without addressing her thesis. Coulter wrote:
Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals…
She goes on to ask, “Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?”
We can debate the wisdom of Coulter’s rhetorical packaging (though it’s fair to bet that, if she did not communicate as pointedly as she does, we would not be talking about her at all). However, the substance at the root of what Coulter wrote proves worth Christians’ prayerful consideration.
Are missions to foreign lands undertaken at the expense of needs closer to home? From a monetary perspective, in Dr. Brantly’s case, the objective answer is a resounding yes. Two million dollars could go a long way toward providing for the spread of the Gospel. But more importantly, there’s a spiritual danger in what Coulter calls “Christian narcissism,” confusing earthly mileage with spiritual accomplishment.
It may be a bit much to presume Brantly traveled to Liberia to stroke his ego, or to somehow put God in his debt. Coulter does not know his heart one way or the other, and neither do we. Only God does. Nevertheless, there remains an object lesson for the rest of us to consider which could give us a moment of prayerful pause before eagerly traveling halfway around the world before first ministering to our nearest neighbors. Sometimes — I think it fair to say most of the time — God has you where He wants you.