The Ebola epidemic in Liberia has led to the shutdown of many activities in the West African country. A state of emergency has been declared, the capital Monrovia is under curfew, schools are closed, only essential government services are being provided and private businesses and offices have scaled back production and services.
The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) sent an initial sum of $10,000 to Liberia through Baptist World Aid, with additional sums earmarked to counter the growing menace. American Baptist Churches through the annual One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering has sent over $20,000 in funding so far.
“I hope that American Baptists will be generous in sending and directing aid to fight the Ebola outbreak through our ABC World Relief Committee and One Great Hour of Sharing offering,” said ABCUSA General Secretary A. Roy Medley.
Congregations and individuals can give to the ongoing efforts through their church’s Monthly Report of Mission Support designating their gift to “One Great Hour of Sharing: Ebola Outbreak.” To make an online contribution by credit card, go to: https://secure-q.net/donations/ABChurches/410, noting “OGHS – Ebola Outbreak” in the comments section. Or, send a check (marked “OGHS – Ebola Outbreak” on the memo line) to “International Ministries, c/o Ebola Outbreak, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482.”
“We are struggling through one of the most difficult periods in the history of our country,” Justus Reeves, general secretary of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (LBMEC), told a roundtable hosted by the Baptist World Alliance. “Currently Liberia is the epicenter of the Ebola virus on the continent.”
Unemployment, which was already 85 percent, got worse with the scaling down of government services. Government is the largest employer in the country.
Reeves said Liberia has only 51 doctors for a population of more than four million. There is a desperate shortage of medical supplies, including medicines for ailments other than Ebola.
Reeves told the BWA roundtable, which included donors and representatives from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, that the “disease has affected every aspect of our lives, politically, socially, economically, even spiritually…everyone lives in terror and fear of each other.”
An immediate concern is the threat of hunger.
Liberian Baptists have been engaged in four initiatives: sensitization and education campaigns; the provision of sanitation equipment and materials to churches and communities; food relief; and trauma counseling for families and communities.
Thus far, LBMEC distributed 650 large bags of rice to three counties and 50 bags to a hospital that had run out of food for its patients. In addition to the food distribution, Liberian Baptists are preparing and distributing meals to Ebola patients.
Baptists have been directly affected by the Ebola outbreak, including the families of 25 Baptist pastors. Baptists, including pastors’ spouses who are medical professionals and practitioners, have contracted the disease.
On September 8 the World Health Organization warned the number of new cases in Liberia was increasing exponentially. As of September 12, more than 2,000 Ebola cases have been reported in Liberia with more than 1,200 succumbing to the disease.
The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 231 conventions and unions in 121 countries and territories comprising 42 million members in 177,000 churches. Its priorities are nurturing the passion for mission and evangelism, promoting worship, fellowship and unity, responding to people in need, defending human rights and justice and advancing relevant theological reflection.
American Baptist International Ministries is celebrating 200 years of ministry in 2014. Organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America, it began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationship with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.