Reflections on Ebola, Liberia
We are watching the Ebola news from West Africa with great concern. Those of us who have been to Liberia are praying not only for the stop of the spread of Ebola throughout West Africa, but we also pray for the safety and health of our many friends we have come to know and love as family.
I have watched the development of this outbreak daily since returning from Liberia in mid-March and hearing of the outbreak in Guinea. At the time we were in Liberia, we stayed in a very isolated, rural area just within a six to eight hour drive of the very first case that happened within Liberia. We had no knowledge of this until we returned to the States, but we were safe and we were completely covered by the prayers of our friends in Liberia. That occurrence was from a local trapper who became infected from wild animals carrying the disease that he had trapped. That was totally unrelated to what was then developing in Guinea and threatening the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. I find it disturbing that this virus was rapidly spreading throughout Guinea, Sierra Leone and starting in Liberia without any notice from the international community or our own media until American citizens were sadly infected while trying to help others. From the time we arrived back in the States I was daily reading reports in newspapers throughout West Africa.
I continue to talk with people from Liberia weekly. It is clear the situation is very serious. Some families continue to hide other family members who have the disease. One person told me on Thursday that she knows some are burying loved ones who have died from Ebola under the cover of darkness during the night. Lack of understanding for the need of isolation continues to be a factor in the spreading of the disease. Poor sanitation, lack of adequate health infrastructure, misunderstanding in general about the disease and how it spreads, mistrust of those who are there trying to stop the virus, combined with traditional customs, all point to the possibility of several months before the spread of Ebola will be fully contained and stopped. Liberia and other countries within West Africa are now in a battle that continues to take lives. Ebola is totally unprecedented in West Africa and it has never before been in large populated areas in the central regions of the continent.
As I think about the prayers that our friends and members of the United Methodist Churches in Liberia pray for us, it is our time to continue to lift them and their country before the throne of God. I personally know of two women who often fast for our conference teams traveling to Liberia for a full 21 days and many often fast and pray for IGRC on Wednesdays or Fridays of each week. It is time for Illinois Great Rivers Conference to faithfully pray for this situation. As I think in terms of Liberia through personal conversations I have had within the past month here are some of the content of my prayers for Liberia.
Join me in praying for the people of Liberia that:
- People who lack understanding or knowledge will be open and willing to learn how to protect themselves.
- Those who rely on traditional customs and rituals will be willing to listen to the advice of health care workers
- Healing will come to Liberia and other countries now facing a new battle -- Ebola.
- Health infrastructures will receive international assistance needed to be effective
- Our friends and their families will be spared the ravages of Ebola.
- May God place a shield of protection around President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and grant her health, strength, wisdom and courage.
- May God stay the hand of anyone who may attempt to take advantage of the current health crisis to seek personal power.
- May the borders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and remain calm and controlled.
- May goods and food continue to flow to areas isolated by blockades to control Ebola.
- May peace prevail!
- May God have mercy!