Ebola and the Assemblies of God
By Kristel Ortiz
Ebola continues to ravage West Africa, infecting and killing people of every color, creed and class. Currently more than 3,500 West Africans have been infected, and more than 1,900 have died. Among the dead are four Assemblies of God pastors from the Monrovia district of Liberia, and several believers in the Koindu region of Sierra Leone.
“With a heavy heart and tears in my eyes I write,” reports Tommy Bangura, general superintendent of the Sierra Leone AG. “We have lost so many church members in the Koindu and Kailahun areas. Many health workers have died. Public gatherings are not allowed, with the exception of worship places. We are under a state of emergency.”
Borders between Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia remain closed, as do their borders with Senegal and Ivory Coast. Major airlines have discontinued flights into the infected areas, and many countries are refusing entry to people arriving from West Africa. Several church leaders from affected countries are unable to return home after attending the Centennial Celebration of the U.S. AG because of interrupted flight schedules.
The Liberia AG closed all four of its Bible schools. One school in Sierra Leone is closed, but Evangel Bible School in Freetown, the nation’s capital, [reportedly] reopened September 1.
Food crises are developing at a frightening pace in areas that have been quarantined because of the disease. AGWM has already sent funds to assist struggling areas in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“We are grateful for the faithful giving of our donors that enabled us to respond,” says Randy Hurst, AGWM Communications director. “We did not have to appeal for funds and were able to immediately send aid to our African brothers and sisters.”
“We are deeply saddened by the lives lost from among our churches in West Africa,” adds Greg Beggs, AGWM Africa regional director. “But we thank God for the compassionate hearts and diligent efforts of believers who are reaching out to the suffering.”
The fear of contracting and dying from Ebola has caused many people to turn to the Lord. Missionaries are requesting prayer that believers will be empowered to boldly share Christ with those who are seeking hope.
Greg Mundis, AGWM executive director, says, “We are grateful to those who have given to our relief funds in the past and enabled us to send physical aid to the affected countries. Now we need our churches to join us in earnestly praying that God will deliver our brothers and sisters from this dreaded disease, for many souls to be saved, and for the Holy Spirit to minister to those who are working directly with the suffering.”