In the past few months, hundreds of headlines have flashed across my computer screen. Among them I see stories of war, famine, crime, injustice and fear, but one word will always gravitate my attention in an instant.
The disease has infected 6,574 people across West Africa and killed 3,091. As someone who grew up darting across sand dunes in Senegal and charging through dense forests in Cote d’Ivoire, my mind constantly worries about how countries like Sierre Leone and Liberia are going to recover from the Ebola crisis, or even if they will recover in my lifetime. For much of Africa, this looming setback sounds all too common as West African nations are once again curbed in their efforts to build strong economies.
As a missionary kid raised by Texas-grown parents serving in West African nations, I feel the effects of the disease on both sides of the Atlantic.
On one side, my community in Africa asks God to intervene and end the spread of Ebola throughout the region. On the other side, I see fear mounting across the United States as increased cries to block out travelers from Africa seem to be dominating the conversation. Recently, one patient was diagnosed with Ebola and is currently being treated in Dallas, TX.
While debates swirl between governments for the best course of action to eradicate Ebola, my mind turns to the people caught in the middle of a raging outbreak. In the wake of the disease’s fatalities, a reported 3,700 orphans have been left without family, shunned by villages because of fear they might carry the disease. Some have been adopted by friends or neighbors, but many are left to pull their lives together and survive as best as they are able.
In reading testimonies of frontline clinics, I can only imagine the pain and confusion those who are infected with the virus experience after being sent to die in a dark room surrounded only by strangers in plastic uniforms who periodically spray them with chlorine. I think for anyone that type of death only instills fear and misunderstanding among all others who are watching as victim after victim is carted off. I am not condoning that sick patients escape or attempt to avoid treatment centers, but I do understand that an Ebola patient might experience a deep fear of being isolated and dying alone.
My friends and colleagues across Africa have started to prayerfully intercede for African nations affected by the disease, and they are asking God to work in a mighty way and halt the relentless pace Ebola has taken as it spreads.
I ask for your prayers to join theirs. I am certain that for any hospital staff member to watch person after person succumb to Ebola, days are hard and long in the fight against an adversary with the upper hand. Pray for God to comfort the dying and draw near to those working on the frontlines.
I have also received word the Baptist Association in Togo will distribute 15,000 brochures among their churches and communities in an effort to prevent an outbreak from occurring in Togo. Keep church leaders and believers in prayer as they educate villages about Ebola and share the gospel.
Will you join me in prayer for West Africa and those who are affected by Ebola?
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Evelyn Adamson is a writer for the IMB working in London.)