Liberia (MNN) — The Ebola outbreak is claiming the lives of pastors, leaving many churches without a leader. Tony Weedor with Advancing Native Missions, originally from Liberia, says missionary pastors are often called to lay hands on sick villagers and pray for them.
“They’ll go there and do it without knowing this person is carrying the virus, and by the time they realize it, it’s too late,” Weedor explains.
90% of people who are infected with Ebola are killed by the virus; however, early detection has reportedly brought that rate down to 60% in this outbreak. Symptoms include headache, fever, and fatigue, but they don’t appear immediately.
Once symptoms do appear, victims usually have about 10 days before massive internal bleeding occurs.
“By the time it’s realized, it’s too late; maybe two, three, or five people are already infected,” says Weedor.
The risk of infection doesn’t stop there. Contact with the body of an infected person can spread the disease, and that’s where another problem arises.
“Burial is very, very important in Africa,” Weedor explains. “They have to bathe the body, wash the body before they bury it; all that includes touching.”
The Ebola outbreak has killed over 600 people in West Africa so far. According to the latest WHO update, Liberia accounts for 224 of those deaths.
Weedor says the true amount could be much higher.
“Those are the ones that have come to hospital, but what about those in the villages who have just died without [visiting a] hospital?” he questions. “[We have] very few hospitals in Liberia.”
In fact, health workers are abandoning their posts at one of the country’s largest hospitals, Weedor reports. “They’re abandoning their duties and leaving the hospital, literally running away from the hospital.”
ANM missionaries are trying to teach villagers how to stop the disease from spreading, but they need transportation. Can you help? Click here to contact ANM, and ask how you can contribute to the Ebola outbreak response.
“Any little help…in terms of funding and what-have-you, we would really appreciate,” says Weedor.
Here’s how you can intercede for the people of Liberia:
- Ask the Lord to protect pastors and native missionaries from infection.
- Pray for health workers who are responding to the crisis will not be infected.
- Pray that the food crisis caused by the Ebola outbreak will not worsen.
“Drivers are afraid to drive or move around,” explains Weedor. This means rural villages aren’t getting the food or supplies they need.