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Home / Opinion - Covid survivor testimony: Appraisal of Namibia’s response

Opinion - Covid survivor testimony: Appraisal of Namibia’s response

2022-01-21  Gerson Uaripi Tjihenuna

Opinion - Covid survivor testimony: Appraisal of Namibia’s response

I contracted Covid-19 sometime in mid-December 2021, and started getting sick around Christmas time. Things went bad on Christmas eve (24 December) that I was taken to the Robert Mugabe Clinic for a Covid-19 test. It came out positive, even though three days prior to this, when my wife had tested positive for Covid-19, my test had come back negative. 

I spent last Christmas not celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ but trying not to die. It was that bad, but I recovered steadily. 

As I watched myself come back to life, I reflected deeply on my Covid-19 experience and what it all means for me. I, therefore, decided to pen those reflections. 

They are three-fold: the first was the centrality of God in Covid-19 experiences and parlance; the second was the Namibian government’s stellar response to the pandemic – ranging from the efficient vaccination drive to the medical staff who treated me at the Robert Mugabe Clinic. The third reflection point pertains to activism: I have often heard cynics completely deny the existence of Covid-19. I hope to use my second chance at life to shout from the proverbial rooftops that Covid-19 is real, and it kills people.  

I am a Christian and a minister of the gospel. I, therefore, believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. I believe there was a message that God was sending me through when He allowed me to contract Covid-19. These were three weeks of self-isolation and deep reflections as well as prayer and close intimacy with my Lord. I had veered away from the Lord’s teachings and ministry. 

Through Covid-19, God wants me to minister to those who have either lost loved ones or are in one way or another affected by this disease, from an “empathetic” position. I have heard of a WhatsApp group for Covid-19 survivors. That is a group I would love to join in order to share ideas and to encourage others. 

My sharing will be chiefly informed by the centrality of the gospel. In other words, I would want to share what I think God is trying to tell us through all this and that He is a caring and loving God. 

I believe God “allowed” me to get Covid-19; I am not saying He “caused” it. There is a vast difference between “allowing” and “causing.”  Based on the book of Job and arguing from a Christian perspective, God is a good God and He is not the author of sickness or any hardship for that matter.  However, He sometimes would allow His children to get sick or to go through hardships for eternal reasons, sometimes only known to Him exclusively.

Before contracting Covid-19, friends and acquaintances would tell me that one never has any idea of what Covid-19 is about until it hits you directly. They were right, I really had no idea until it was my turn. My knowledge of Covid-19 had, until last Christmas, only been based on theory. But as it turned out, Covid-19 was for me, the closest I have ever been to dying. [You need to say more about the centrality of God. There is a punch missing. Why does he want to you minister to people? What does he want you to do? How will you execute?]

The medical staff at Robert Mugabe Clinic were as friendly and warm as they were professional and knowledgeable. Fortunately, I was not hospitalised but I spent close to three hours on a drip and oxygen. 

When I got discharged, they called me every second day to find out how I was doing. On better reflection, Namibia is yet to fully celebrate the lives of these heroes and heroines who put their own lives on the line in trying to save the lives of others; they sacrificed their Christmas time with family and their loved ones to save my life. 

The Namibian government must also be given a standing ovation for its vaccination drive – and so too the scientists who have been working for nearly a decade to find vaccines since the outbreak of the SARS coronavirus in the 2000s. 

I do not think I would have made it without the two jabs I had taken earlier last year; before I contracted Covid-19. Many people tell me that the vaccine helped me from deteriorating into a serious condition. I know that the religious community is deeply divided on the subject of vaccines, but at the end of the day, whether or not to take a vaccine, is a personal choice. I do not wish to debate my Christian brothers and sisters who are opposed to vaccination through newspapers because that is not the way we resolve differences. 

I am simply stating what I believe has worked for me, of course not forgetting the God factor in the grand scheme of things – His hand had always been there upon me during one of the darkest hours of my life. 

My appeal to fellow Namibians is that Covid-19 is real and we need to adhere to all the health protocols prescribed by our Government. God has given me a second chance and I am thankful for that. However, I would not, for one minute, want anyone to go through what I went through. 

Finally, the Bible in Mathew 24: 21-22 and Revelation 6:8 refers to deadly diseases as one of the signs of the end times. Is God perhaps not talking to humanity through Covid-19? If the answer is yes, are we hearing what He is telling us? In the midst of Covid-19 and economic meltdown, one thing is certain, this is the finest hour for the church. 

The church of Jesus Christ must rise to the occasion and be the answer in these uncertain times. However, the church can only be an answer if she knows her true identity in Christ Jesus and then takes her rightful position of being a prophetic voice. 

The Kenyan Christian scholar, John Mbiti, once said: “The Church is neither the Master nor the Servant of the State, but she is the conscience of the State”. 

2022-01-21  Gerson Uaripi Tjihenuna

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