'I'm working at reception at a COVID testing clinic in the USA'

Narelle’s story | When life doesn’t work out how you plan

“My earliest memories are in Papua New Guinea. My parents were Bible translators in the villages and I lived there until I graduated high school. Growing up in PNG, surrounded by people who walked a life of faith in Jesus, meant there wasn’t a time, or a day, when I didn’t know Jesus. It’s one of the things I’m most grateful for. And I always thought I’d be a missionary. Everything I did was part of that dream and plan.”

“I chose to study nursing so that I could be a missionary. I married someone who was also a missionary kid. I thought we’d be a missionary couple. We talked about it together. Both my brother and sister are full-time missionaries. But it hasn’t turned out like that for me. It hasn’t been the fairytale.

“I’m now living in the USA. I’m a single mum. I’ve never worked as a nurse. I’ve found myself in a different place, where none of my dreams fitted. But what does it mean for me to stay faithful to Jesus? What does it mean for me to stay true to who God has made me to be? Is my faith as real as someone who is going into missions?

“At the moment, I’m working at the reception desk at a COVID testing clinic, here in North Carolina. We do 12-hour shifts. We started testing for COVID in June last year. Back then, we were one of the few places doing it. There’s been a lot of fear. People walk in and you can see it on their faces. They’re terrified. They’re afraid of getting it themselves, or they’re very afraid of giving it to someone else. It’s more of the latter now. The caution is very high. Some people are angry. But people are also tired of hearing about it and compassion has gone up and down. In the clinic, we see 50-70 people a day, and about 20 per cent of them are positive. Some of them we send immediately to the hospital …

“For me, the important thing is realising that my knowledge of God works against the fear. I’ve been a person who has struggled with fear in the past. And if someone is leaning across the reception desk at me, fearful and angry, wanting their test results immediately … how will I respond to them? Will I respond in the way Christ would want me to respond? Do my actions uphold my belief in Jesus? Am I living out my faith in Jesus, or am I just playing with words? Do I really believe that God is in control?

“That’s been the challenge for me. As real as everybody’s fear is, the grace and love of God is just as real. I caught COVID early on, in August. It was mild. There was only once or twice that my oxygen levels were low and I couldn’t catch my breath.

“But in everything, I have to hold on to truth that, ‘The Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Deuteronomy 31:6)

It’s what I need to remember when I’m at the clinic and the people are fearful and angry, or equally when I’m at home alone with the kids. It’s just that simple. God is with us. He provides. And it’s in the broken bits of life that faith grows and grace comes … so I need to keep applying that grace, even in a life that doesn’t look the way it was supposed to look. God is the one who defines me. He’s the healer and he’s good, in the middle of everything looking not so good. Really, all that we’re called to be is to be faithful.”

Narelle’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Bible verse Deuteronomy 31 6

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