VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 10/28/14)—The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa shows no signs of waning. Beyond the medical challenge, the need for food is growing every day. Since December 2013, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone have reported 8,011 suspected and confirmed cases. New cases continue to be recorded, indicating that the outbreak, which has an overall fatality rate of 55%, has not been contained.
In its meeting on October 22, the American Baptist World Relief Committee approved an emergency grant of $120,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) for American Baptist International Ministries (IM) to help partners address the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. “In addition to huge medical needs, food security has become a major issue,” stated Lisa Rothenberger, ABC’s World Relief Officer.
“People have been unable to go to work at the same time as food prices have increased and access to marketplaces has become more limited. The combined impact for the people in the 3 affected countries is that many are now having trouble feeding their families. Our Liberian partners have shared their fear that more people will die of hunger than Ebola—that is something we need to respond to now,” Rothenberger continued.
$120,000 in undesignated funds donated through American Baptist Churches to OGHS will be invested in the work of IM partners: Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Liberia Direct Baptist Missionary Conference, Baptist World Aid and IMA World Health.
Approximately 70% will be used to provide food and medical supplies, while the remaining 30% will focus on Ebola prevention. Half of the prevention funds will be used by IM missionary Rick Gutierrez to produce an animated Ebola prevention video based upon his highly acclaimed and widely viewed HIV prevention video. The video will be easily translated into many African languages.
This new $120,000 emergency grant comes in addition to the initial August 2014 grant of $20,000 in OGHS funds.
Rothenberger shared, “All of these initiatives are in need of additional funding. Through the $120,000 made available by the World Relief Committee last week, we are able to provide significant support, but each partner has needs that far outweigh our initial assistance. Any additional funds contributed will be used to expand our support to our partners response.”
Congregations and individuals are encouraged to give to the ongoing Ebola-relief efforts through normal denominational channels (through the church’s Monthly Report of Mission Support, designating their gift to “One Great Hour of Sharing: Ebola Outbreak”). They may also give online here or send a check marked “OGHS – Ebola Outbreak” on the memo line to “International Ministries, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482.”
IM missionaries in Liberia have been temporarily re-assigned to serve in Hungary
Since March of 2014, Rebecca and Larry Stanton have been serving as IM missionaries in Liberia, assigned to the Ricks Institute. Due to the rapid spread of Ebola and the danger it presents, when the Stantons came to the U.S. this summer for IM’s 200th anniversary events, Ricks Institute leadership asked the Stantons and their three younger children to extend their time away from Liberia. In light of the continuing epidemic, IM is honoring that partner request by temporarily reassigning the Stantons to serve in Hungary.
Starting November 1, Larry and Rebecca will serve for one year with IM partners, the Hungarian Baptist Union/Hungarian Baptist Aid. Rebecca will teach English to elementary and high school students. Larry will assist with building and grounds maintenance at schools under supervision of our partners.
Charles Jones, IM’s Area Director for Europe, the Middle East and Liberia, says, “We are grateful to God and thankful to our Hungarian Baptist partners for providing this opportunity for Larry and Becky to continue to fulfill their calling to cross-cultural, international missionary service! We are concerned for the people of Liberia and West Africa; and we pray that Larry and Becky will be able to return to Liberia in due time. Meanwhile, we pray God’s grace and blessings on them and their children as they transition to life and ministry in another new land and culture.”
“We feel this is our Macedonian call,” commented Rebecca in a recent journal. “In the 16th chapter of Acts, Paul and his companions were prevented from going into Asia. Paul had a vision in the night of a man from Macedonia saying, ‘Come over here and help us!’
“We have been prevented from going back into Liberia at this time,” she continued. “We are heart-broken for our friends but praying steadily that God will continue to protect the Ricks campus from the Ebola outbreak. As we have been waiting, dumb-founded that our short missionary careers would be stymied, God was working.”
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches.
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.