May 14, 2020
Wheaton College alumnus Caleb Luk ’17 is on the front lines of fighting the pandemic in Chicagoland.
Caleb Luk ’17 is an emergency room technician in the Chicagoland area. In recent weeks, he has seen hundreds of coronavirus patients from the suburbs, the city, and from nursing homes.
“We make sure the ER stays afloat,” Luk says.
Luk serves as the eyes and ears of the ER by observing patients and making sure their baseline stats stay stable. From a patient care perspective, he conducts CPR, does electrocardiograms, helps physicians set patients’ broken bones back into place, draws blood, bags bodies, and makes sure the ER is stocked with supplies. Caleb also cleans up after patients, serving with the realization that he’s able to provide dignity to patients during times of trauma.
Prior to the pandemic, Luk says the ER would see more than 200 patients per day, with numbers exceeding 250 during flu season. At any given time, there would be 30 people in the waiting room. Now, with the outbreak of COVID-19, his ER has seen a 50 percent drop in patients, which has given them the ability to focus more on coronavirus patients.
“I’m glad people are making the choice to stay home for the sake of loving others,” he says.
With the emergence of COVID-19, Luk’s ER designated a specific wing for coronavirus patients and began to provide doctors, nurses, and technicians with personal protective equipment (PPE). Luk became responsible for running COVID-19 test swabs from the ER to the laboratory for processing, a time-sensitive process he carries out regularly.
Luk recognizes that working on the front lines of COVID-19 in the ER puts him at high risk for contracting the infection, but he trusts that God has called him to the front lines for this season.
“I’m learning that if I die, it’s okay because I know I'll be with Jesus,” he says. “There are definitely a lot of dreams I hope to achieve on this side of eternity, but if I don't, it’s going to be okay. Jesus has done the hard work. We’re just called to obey.”
Luk is reminding himself of these truths even as he reads about discouraging cases of discrimination against Asians during the outbreak of COVID19.
“Being of Asian descent, I can’t change my physical markers,” Luk says. “But Wheaton taught me to lean into my identity in Christ. I spent four years talking with professors and mentors who deeply love Jesus, and the thing I realized first and foremost is that I’m a sinner saved by grace. Not only that, but I’m redeemed because of what Christ has done. I’m a beloved child of God. I’m his son.”
Personally, Caleb has leaned into his identity in Christ—especially 1 John 3:2—during disheartening times. He notes the importance of recognizing there are structural and personal aspects at play in addition to having safe friends to ask questions of and confide in.
“People don't often change being told they’re wrong—it’s important to remind people they’ve got something so much better,” Caleb says. “With God’s full love in Christ, there’s no need to be racist. It’s important to not forget this great gift we have.”
Luk says some of the most defining moments for him in the midst of COVID-19 have come in realizing the people we expect to lead us in society and in healthcare are in the same boat as us, and we’re all learning together.
“We need to give our leaders a lot of grace,” Luk says. “As we expect experts to know what to do, a part of science is trying new methods of what works and what doesn’t. Realizing and seeing how much grace God has given us, we can certainly give grace to others.”
With regard to encouraging words as we look to the future, Luk recommends we “stick with Jesus.”
“Jesus is with us, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Luk says. “That’s what compels me. To see the beauty of Christ. That’s where I draw my source of strength.”
-- Allison Althoff Steinke ’11