by Pastor Daryl Largis
I wanted to take this opportunity, as we turn the corner on a New Year, to give an update related to the Ebola Crisis in Western Africa, specifically Sierra Leone where we as The Chapel family have many friends. As was mentioned during our services around Thanksgiving of 2014 and in my blog posts of a month ago, The Chapel, as an active member of the Sierra Leone Alliance, continues to play an important part in helping to catalyze and facilitate that which the Alliance is doing to meet the needs of the people impacted by Ebola in Sierra Leone. One of the single greatest ways we can and have demonstrated the reality of the gospel is to help feed those who are under quarantine (house confinement) as pictured above—note the white tape marking off the restricted boundaries. Even though the mainstream media has largely left Ebola in 2014, the threat remains for thousands today in many parts of Western Africa.
According to WHO, there have been more than 9,400 cases of Ebola reported in Sierra Leone as of December 31, 2014. This number many believe is woefully low given the reporting methods and documentation rigor. Even still, it is a staggering number. Of that, nearly 2,800 people have died. Of the three countries involved in this most recent outbreak, Sierra Leone now has the highest number of Ebola cases representing 47% of the total and this number continues to climb. The active transmission rates in Sierra Leone are lessening in some areas but intense in others especially the Western districts where there are more people. Experts are cautiously hopeful that the tide is slowly turning in Sierra Leone as it has in Liberia. We are definitely praying for this to be the case. Thank you for your prayers and financial gifts if you participated during the Thanksgiving season. You can still participate financially in this ,if you feel led, by denoting your gift as Ebola Relief through The Chapel’s secure electronic giving platform found at www.thechapel.com.
The Sierra Leone Alliance of Western New York members (Jericho Road Community Health Center, EduNations, Global Outreach Mission, Houghton College, let them LOL, World Hope, and The Chapel) are actively working alongside of each other both here in Western New York and there to help end this crisis. Each of these organizations continue to give of their time, talents and resources for this Food Program. The results so far are outstanding. God has moved in the hearts of many to enable these before mentioned organizations to do much and to prepare to do more. Given the need is so high and the Alliance has gained not only experience but also additional momentum in regards to this Program, the Alliance made a decision recently to literally double its efforts in regards to this program. As a result, the 12-month budget was increased from just above $200,000 to $400,000 believing God will continue to provide. In the first two months of this program more than $200,000 has been given to this program with over $100,000 already disbursed for in-country expenses. The remaining funds are spoken for and will be released in the near term. Please note that the Alliance is committed to ensuring the maximum amount of resources are utilized directly for in-country needs even though each member is incurring additional cost as a result of supporting, facilitating and leading this initiative.
In terms of activity, the Food Program, since its inception in November of 2014, has impacted 435 homes and more than 2,100 individuals, many of whom are children. Please note that this Food Program is not just for one meal. Typically, a home once quarantined involves several people for at least 3 weeks. If somebody in that house contracts the disease during that 3 week period, that person is removed and the 3 week clock is reset for the remainder of the household. So, each household helped entails several points of contact over several weeks. In addition, some of the upfront investment was for motorbikes so that those representing the Alliance in country could easily come and go into the target communities. Furthermore, the Alliance pre-paid, if you will, the shipping costs to get several thousand meals from Canada (20-foot container with approximately 400,000+ meals). The cost of the meals is being covered through a grant by the supplier (Ontario Christian Gleaners). This shipment will hopefully leave Canada in a month to arrive in Sierra Leone in the March time-frame.
As I close out this blog entry, I am overwhelmed with the immense blessings God has bestowed on those who live in the United States and Canada. While we certainly have our issues and challenges as well as needs in certain places, we are as a whole unbelievably blessed. It is my firm belief that God has blessed us to be a blessing. We are and can continue to be an answer to the prayers of many as they cry out to God. When we in humility and obedience give and go, God is glorified. May it be so of us. May Christ’s love compel us to continue to demonstrate and declare the gospel—we are God’s ambassadors in this world.