Beauty from Ashes in Ebola Weary West Africa
By Monica Carr
While the world watches on in fear as the deadly Ebola snake strikes down one victim after another, there are those who are soldiering on with one foot on the snake’s head and both hands outstretched to those in need. Some have paid the price with their very lives like Rev. Joe and Hannah Sonkpah of Monrovia, Liberia, who helped a pregnant woman with Ebola. They are our heroes, heroes unsung by the media, heroes reflecting the true nature of Christ–Christ who laid down his life so others might live. In Sierra Leone, also shadowed by Ebola, Rev. Vidal Cole, observes, “In the midst of fear, God has been our source of hope and strength. We have chosen to stand upon His Word and put our trust in Him and He has really proved Himself faithful. We believe this is the time for the Church in Sierra Leone to arise and shine in the midst of darkness.” Isaiah 60:1-3 proclaims:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth . . . but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
This brightness shines through the actions of pastors in Waterloo who organized a prayer revival as a way to confront the virus. Pastor Kanu reported. “Fifty-five people gave their lives to Christ during the revival. Many testified that their spiritual life was strengthened. They felt empowered; their hope and courage was restored to go back and face the reality of the current situation.” In Kissy, local churches engage in personal evangelism. Pastor Manna describes. “As we go, we share the Word of God and let [our neighbors] know that in such times Jesus is the only hope. Our message has been greatly welcomed as it is very different from the message of fear.” Many people have come to Christ, and are now in discipleship classes. Lives are being transformed. When children in Lumley were no longer able to attend school because of Ebola, several pastors decided to reach out and minister to them. Pastor Marie shares. “Our youth are very excited with this initiative.” Many young people have come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and we are now planning to begin a discipleship class for them. Because of this outreach we are also experiencing growth in our churches. We are very grateful for what God is doing and we give Him all the glory.”
These praises in Sierra Leone echo Paul’s testimony:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but
not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not
destroyed . . .Therefore we do not lose heart . . .For our light and
momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far
outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9,16,17)