Many of us remember the aftermath of the Islamist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. In the weeks following the attacks, churches throughout the United States were packed, at least for a time. During our national time of desperation and sadness, and the loss of thousands of murdered Americans by al-Qaeda, many Americans sought solace from God against the forces of evil. In a similar way, many West Africans filled churches this past Sunday seeking God’s mercy and salvation. They gathered together in worship and prayer despite official warnings to avoid public gatherings.
Since I asked for prayer last week for the victims and families of those afflicted by the Ebola virus, hundreds more have died. Both Sierra Leone and Liberia have declared states of emergency to face the highly contagious and incurable Ebola disease that kills up to 90 percent of those infected. Pastor Martee Jones Seator of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Monrovia, Liberia, said, “Everyone is so afraid. Ebola is not going to shake our faith in any way because we’ve been through difficult times.” The Reverend Marcus MacKay said, “We are in trouble here. We are in trouble. But you know what? There is no way this devil is going to do its work!” Bishop Abu Aiah Koroma of the evangelical Flaming Bible Church of Freetown, Sierra Leone, called Ebola “a devil.” Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria and many other clergy around the world have offered prayers for a “quick divine intervention” against the Ebola.
Sadly, as in any crisis, charlatans, false prophets and teachers, and other unscrupulous persons prey on vulnerable victims and their families. Elements of the Nigerian government have warned the public to be wary of some clergy who claim to have a cure for Ebola. Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Senior Pastor of Trinity House Church in Nigeria, sparked outrage for posting recently on his Facebook page his solution to Ebola, which involved the laying on of hands for those infected. The senior pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations of Nigeria, T. B. Joshua, said that he would donate 2,000 bottles of his “Anointing Water” to the affected countries of West Africa. There is no information that the special water has been sent to West Africa.
Please continue to pray for the thousands of living victims of Ebola. Please also pray that an outbreak of Ebola does not come to the United States. Media reports indicate that in the event of a widespread Ebola outbreak, our nation’s doctors, hospitals, and medical system is not prepared. But when it does come here, as was the case after 9/11, I suspect that our churches will again be packed to overflowing. At least until the crisis subsides. May God save us all.