News Update – August 2014

To download the original copy please follow this link: News Update – August 2014

From this issue of News Update:

Ebola

Lately, I have been asked dozens of times how our ministry has been affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I believe I need to provide some updates, so you will know how to pray for us and the people affected by the epidemic.

Firstly, it is a misconception that the entire West Africa is affected by the Ebola outbreak. Out of the 16 West African countries, only 4 (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria) are currently infected. The 2 countries (Ghana and Togo) where we have been travelling to and sending STM teams remain intact.

Secondly, even though Ebola has a high fatality rate, the virus itself is quite fragile and difficult to contract. Only those who exhibit symptoms are contagious and one is only affected through direct physical contact. Consequently, health personnel working at the front line are the most vulnerable to the disease.

Thirdly, due to the illiteracy of the local communities and their distrust of the government, little or no precaution has taken place to curb the spread of the virus. Some people still deny the existence of such a virus and believe it is either the work of the evil spirit or a rumor from the government in order to get foreign aid into the country.

Fourthly, given this situation, many people see the damage of the Ebola disease going beyond the health crisis. People in the infected areas are living in fear and distrust, and they are isolating themselves from each other. This is totally against the African culture where people used to be knit closely together and live interdependently with each other. Since people are, in a way, forced to stop helping each other to protect their health, those who live from hand to mouth will have a very narrow margin to survive.

Despite the fact that Ghana and Togo are still free from the Ebola threat, CIM Canada has cancelled all our STM trips to those countries in August. We do not want to create too much a burden for the families and friends of the STM members if we persist to go amidst the torrential terrifying news and reports of the outbreak. We believe a postpone trip will be more meaningful and helpful to those who want to go and those supporting behind.

If you have read my last News Update, I have finished it with a question: Are Chinese still welcome by the African people? How does the current Ebola crisis relate to the above question?

About a week after I had sent the last News Update, I received a response from a leading local pastor in Ghana. He wrote:
I am still happy to see our Chinese brethren here in Ghana, bridging the Chinese Churches and those in Ghana.

In a later email, he further elaborated:
…… the best the Chinese Church can do with us as an African Church is to invest in each other the strength to accomplish God’s will for a dying world.

The message was clear: African people may not feel comfortable with the increasing presence of the Chinese who come to their continent with dubious motives. However, those who come to work closely with them and with the desire to contribute to the African nation will be much welcome.

In the current health and growing survival crisis in West Africa, while people are avoiding or seeking to leave the region, CIM Canada finds it more important to focus our resources on the suffering communities in those countries.

We believe there is no better time than now that our presence and contribution will be needed and appreciated in West Africa.

Sincerely,
Rev. Philip Leung (Executive Director)