We Are About Relationships
It has been less than a year and a half since 12 members from Christ UMC visited Sierra Leone. So much has changed since then. We went there as part of a cultural immersion experience that focused on agriculture and sustainability and the role of the church. We spent over a year planning and learning about the country and its people. We knew that we would see and experience poverty on a level that is hard to comprehend. We learned that almost two thirds of the people in the country were involved in sustenance agriculture (farming for their next meal). Daily life in Sierra Leone is so different from the lives we live in Williamson County. The Ebola outbreak is changing every aspect of life in Sierra Leone.
What if you woke up tomorrow to find out that your job was gone, your children could no longer attend school, the market where you purchased your food was closed, you were ordered to stay in your home, the medical system had collapsed, and the seed you needed to plant your crops had increased ten fold in price? That is the reality for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Sierra Leone. The Kennema District, where we spent the majority of our time in country, has been living this nightmare for several months and has no real end in sight. We have received very little information from our friends there, and what we have heard has been heartbreaking. One of the facilitators we worked with named Sentu recently shared that her son was feeling sick and she took him to the hospital where she waited to see a doctor for eight hours. Her son passed away in the waiting room from a completely treatable intestinal problem. He was one of eight people who passed away that day while waiting for treatment in a healthcare system that is overwhelmed and understaffed.
I recall a moment while riding in the back of a pickup truck (remember when you could do that?) on a dirt road in the jungle where I had a God moment of feeling so small and far from home and confounded about how different my life was compared to lives of people in Sierra Leone. I feel the same way now in light of the Ebola crisis and what my response should be. West Africa has been a regular fixture in my prayer life for over two years. Yet, I want to do more. Perhaps many of you feel the same way.
While in Sierra Leone, we partnered with Agricultural Missions Incorporated who heads up the West Africa Food Initiative (WAI). Winston Caroo, the director of WAI, has recently issued an emergency appeal to provide supplies to rural communities in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The emergency funds will provide the opportunity for villages to purchase sanitation kits, school supplies, and most importantly, seeds for the upcoming planting season. The monies collected go directly to the villages in need. There are strong controls and accountability measures in place to assure donations provide the maximum impact.
I hope that you will include West Africa in your prayers and also prayerfully consider responding to the emergency appeal linked below.