A recent article from Us (formerly USPG) has brought the voices of Church leaders in West Africa to the Anglican Communion, as they ask for global prayer for healing, comfort and hope in their struggle against the deadly disease.
Ebola is spreading in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and threatening other countries in West Africa, including Ghana and Nigeria.
As of 6 August 2014, the cumulative number of cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria total 1779, including 961 deaths.
The Ebola outbreak has recently been declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Director general Dr Margaret Chan said the current outbreak is the “most severe and most complex” in the nearly four decades of the history of the disease.
Dr Chan said the announcement is a “clear call for international solidarity” over the outbreak, which is the largest and longest in history.
Here are the calls for prayer from Us partners in West Africa:
From the church in Liberia:
The Most Revd Jonathan Hart, Archbishop of Liberia, reports: “The Ebola virus is having a very bad effect on the lives of citizens in Liberia. We have joined hands with the council of churches, the government and other organisations in the fight against Ebola. Churches are educating our members to avoid contact with infected people, wash hands with chorine, and not to panic. Our church has joined the health authorities in calling on our people to wash their hands with chlorine and soap, avoid hands shaking and, as much as possible, refuse unnecessary bodily contact. We encourage the public to keep their environments clean. The government has authorised the closure of all schools. Places of entertainment are operating on a reduced level. We need disposable surgical gloves, chorine and basic hygiene kits to safeguard against Ebola.”
From the church in Sierra Leone:
Ade Renner-Thomas, Chancellor for the Diocese of Freetown, Sierra Leone, writes: “Many thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Here in Sierra Leone the government has declared a state of public health emergency. It means there are quarantines in the areas most affected. Movements are restricted in certain areas, and gatherings of more than five people are prohibited. When we have met as a church, there are no more handshakes when we share the peace, etc. We need as much prayer as you can offer.”
From the church in Ghana:
The Most Revd Daniel Sarfo, Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana, said: “People in my country are anxious. They are alert and watching the situation closely. The Anglican Church must act and prepare congregations to face any eventuality. There are instances in Ghana where people ran away from relatives who came from neighbouring affected countries. People are scared and anxious. The church needs to respond. We cannot remain idle in this situation.”
Us have published this prayer to use in support of those affected across West Africa:
God of our anguish, we cry to you
For all who wrestle with Ebola.
Grant we pray, peace to the afraid,
Your welcome to the dying and
Your comfort to those living with loss.
And, merciful Father,
bless those many loving hands
That bravely offer care and hope.
God of healing,
whose Son healed those who were brought to him.
Hear our prayer for the peoples of West Africa
suffering from the Ebola outbreak.
Inspire and enable your church
to be a source of healing, comfort and hope to those affected,
and an agent for the education
and equipping of communities
to stop the spread of this disease.
For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
You can also follow these links to see how other Christian organisations are responding to the crisis:
Episcopal Relief & Development
In the picture: A church service in Tamale, Ghana.
 Figures from http://www.who.int/csr/don/2014_08_08_ebola/en/
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