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Ebola Prevention: Training and Encouragement for West African Pastors

Sep 1, 2014

MTW missionary and nurse practitioner John Sexton just returned from West Africa where he trained national pastors to be Ebola prevention teachers. As part of the training, they discussed how to prevent the spread of Ebola and how pastors can safely minister to the sick without becoming sick themselves and spreading the disease to others. Balancing safe medicine with cultural practices is difficult; common death rituals for both Christians and Muslims have been a source of spreading Ebola.

Participants did problem-solving on how to show respect for the deceased and still remain safe from disease. For instance, an important ritual is the washing of the body at home, often a source of spreading the infection to all those in the house. This turned into a discussion: Can washing only the face still show the same respect? Can simply covering the body in a new blanket rather than changing the clothes show the same respect? In Ebola epidemics, recommended protocol is to cremate the bodies. Though this may be the best method, it is not culturally acceptable in much of West Africa. Participants discussed how to reach a compromise and still keep the community safe.

John trained nearly 150 pastors and seminary students in three separate countries that border Ebola infected areas. He had three goals for this project:
1. To build a "firewall" of prevention to slow the spread of Ebola to these countries.
2. To encourage the national churches that they are not alone during this terrible time. He carried a
personal message from the new MTW coordinator, Lloyd Kim, encouraging and assuring them that the
American Church is with them.
3. For the national churches to be a light in their communities during this dark time.
Already, the national churches in West Africa are planning health and evangelism conferences in 10 border communities.

We need more people to assist in further training. If you're a health educator and want to learn more about volunteering, email [email protected] 

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Pray that people will come to faith in Christ through our medical clinics, where we seek to do what Jesus did and care for those in need.

Pray for Francesca and others like her who receive medical care through MTW clinics. Pray that the care they receive would strengthen their faith in Christ.

Pray for a new initiative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to hand deliver soap and provide education on disease prevention to 600 families in poverty-stricken communities. 

Pray that MTW medical trips would be used of God to provide much needed care and to draw men and women to faith in Christ. 

Pray for the young sexually-abused girls and adult survivors of childhood trauma in San Jose, Costa Rica, to find healing. Pray for the clinic workers who are proving much-needed counseling.

Pray for Muslims in West Africa who have been impacted by the Ebola virus to find hope in Jesus Christ.

Pray for the the Medical Campus Outreach team in Cusco, Peru, and for the medical and students at the clinic who are learning to practice medicine and hearing the gospel.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Pray for those in the urban slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who are struggling economically due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Pray for ongoing ministry in the Suki community during COVID-19. Many day workers cannot work, and the church is having to find creative ways to minister. 

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