A new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has killed hundreds and spread fear throughout the largest nation in sub-Saharan Africa. We all remember the 2014 outbreak in western Africa, which killed over 11,000 men, women and children in three countries.
Samaritan’s Purse is once again at the forefront of the fight against Ebola. For several months, our staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or DRC) have been training local health workers to safely care for patients and prevent an epidemic. The day after Christmas, we airlifted doctors, nurses, and other highly trained specialists to Africa, along with everything needed to set up Ebola treatment centres.
Ebola is extremely contagious and deadly. At one hospital in the DRC that I have visited many times, a woman in labour came to the emergency room. No one knew she was infected with Ebola, and as hospital staff worked to deliver her baby, several of them were exposed to the virus. By the grace of God, none of them got sick.
At Samaritan’s Purse, we don’t run from trouble—we run to it. Still, we take the utmost care when responding to a crisis as dangerous as Ebola. Our workers in the DRC are highly trained, and as they step out in faith, they trust that nowhere is safer than the centre of God’s will. One of our doctors in the DRC said, “I believe I am here by God’s calling and His plan, and I don’t want to be anywhere else.” Please pray that God will protect our staff as they work to save lives.
Medical researchers have made great progress in the fight against Ebola and have developed a vaccine to minimise the spread of the virus. An experimental drug called Zmapp that God used to save the life of our Dr. Kent Brantly in Liberia is one of several treatments now available.
Greater than any medicine is the hope that our staff can offer in the Name of Jesus Christ. The Director-General of the World Health Organisation pointed this out when he visited our Ebola treatment centre and saw the cross on the Samaritan’s Purse logo where we welcome patients. “When they see the cross, they will know peace,” Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said.
The Bible tells us, “Trust in the Lord, and do good” (Psalm 37:3). When we are faithful and compassionate—even in the face of a deadly epidemic—God will give us opportunities to share the message of eternal life in Christ.
I travelled to the Caribbean to help hand out Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts on the island of Antigua, where families are still recovering from Hurricane Irma. Samaritan’s Purse is still working hard on Antigua and neighbouring Barbuda to rebuild houses and churches. It was a blessing to be able to bring gifts and the hope of the Gospel to children who have suffered so much. We praise God and thank people like you who packed 10.5 million gift boxes in 2018 that we have shipped to more than 100 countries around the world!
As churches hand out shoebox gifts as an outreach to their community, they share the Gospel and invite children to get involved in our follow-up ministry, called The Greatest Journey. We train hundreds of thousands of volunteer teachers who lead children through a 12-lesson course where they learn Bible stories, memorise Scripture, and realise how much God loves them. We praise God that nearly 9 million children have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour through The Greatest Journey! Millions of them are now prayerfully sharing the Gospel with their families and friends.
God is using The Greatest Journey to transform lives even in places like Syria, where children have been terribly traumatised by war. In one class, a 10-year-old boy told his teacher that he did not love anybody—not even God. But as she prayed for him and he continued the lessons, she saw his heart transformed by the Gospel, and he gave his heart to Jesus. He even began boldly sharing Bible stories with friends at school. When his teacher asked him about his new attitude, he told her, “God has changed me.”
As shoebox gifts are handed out and The Greatest Journey lessons begin, please keep praying for the children whose lives are being touched by your gifts. Ask God to transform their hearts and make them into ambassadors for Christ.
Thank you for your prayers and support for the work of Samaritan’s Purse.
May God bless you