but not from stigma – by Holly Beech.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE – In December, nine of the people in Nazarene Theological Institute student Clarence Labor’s neighborhood contracted the Ebola virus. Seven of them died.
Labor and his fiance and children were quarantined for 21 days, not knowing if they too had Ebola. Thankfully, they all came through the quarantine period virus-free.
Even though they are healthy, the family is now treated differently by the rest of the community. People don’t want to interact with them. Vendors don’t want to sell them anything.
“Many people are afraid because they thought that after the quarantine we could still spread the virus to them,” Labor said.
Before he was quarantined, Labor and his neighbors were friendly and shared with each other. Now people often avoid him. “Those are my saddest moments,” he said.
“People used to talk to me. We used to do things together,” he said. “Now they run away from me.”
Labor said he has found comfort through his church, Faith Community Church of the Nazarene in Freetown. While he was quarantined, pastors and church members would bring him food, call him and pray for him and his family.
“Church, the fellowship, those are my happiest times,” Labor said.
Rev. Vidal Cole, the district superintendent and pastor of Overcomers Assembly Church of the Nazarene, said the 70 Nazarene churches in Sierra Leone are spreading the message that when individuals have survived Ebola or have made it through quarantine, they should be welcomed in and not treated as a threat.
This has caused new people to join the church, Cole said, because it’s a place they feel welcome. Churches have even experienced revival in the midst of the crisis, he said, and attendance has gone up.
CHURCH RESPONDS TO ECONOMIC, SOCIAL CHALLENGES
Sierra Leone has had the highest number of Ebola cases, with more than 10,740 cases and 3,276 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
The crisis has caused many schools, shops, businesses and mining operations to shut down, eliminating jobs and leaving several families with no income.
“The economic crisis is getting harder every day,” Cole said. “Our currency is declining. Prices of food commodities are going up seriously, so much that it’s difficult for people to buy.”
In rural areas, farmers who have been quarantined often return home to find that their crops have been harvested and stolen, Cole said.
Nazarene churches have distributed rice to more than 700 families, supplied through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. They are also educating the community about Ebola and how it spreads. Each church has a tap bucket filled with chlorine water where members of the community come to wash their hands.
“Every local church in this community, they are doing this kind of work and sending a very big message to the community around,” Cole said.
But there is not enough food to meet the demand. “No, it’s never enough at all. Because this is what we eat every day, and here the families are large,” Cole said. “It’s normally a husband, wife, many children, brother, sister, cousin, father, mother, extended family.”
The Church in Sierra Leone is praying for an economic recovery and for the complete eradication of Ebola.
Message de fin d’année : Courrons la course !
« Vous savez où je vais, et vous en savez le chemin. »
Nous connaissons tous ces paroles de Jésus notre Seigneur qu’il a dite à ses disciples juste après l’une des plus merveilleuses promesses en Jean 14 versets 1 à 3 :
« Que votre cœur ne se trouble point. Croyez en Dieu, et croyez en moi. Il y a plusieurs demeures dans la maison de mon Père. Si cela n’était pas, je vous l’aurais dit. Je vais vous préparer une place. Et, lorsque je m’en serai allé, et que je vous aurai préparé une place, je reviendrai, et je vous prendrai avec moi, afin que là où je suis vous y soyez aussi. Vous savez où je vais, et vous en savez le chemin. »
C’est une merveilleuse promesse !
« Je suis le chemin, la vérité et la vie. Nul ne vient au Père sans passer par moi. » Telles sont les paroles prononcées par notre Seigneur Jésus Christ à ses disciples en Jean 14.6. Elles ont été dites dans son dernier discours avant la crucifixion. Il nous parle d’un chemin qui mène à une place, à un lieu, à un endroit. Cet endroit c’est le ciel. Mais il parle au futur, car il s’agit de la réalité du royaume de Dieu qui est « présente et en même temps pas encore accomplie. »
Nous sommes sûrs par la confiance en Jésus Christ qu’il y a un lieu qui nous est réservé, mais il y a un chemin que Jésus a tracé en venant vivre sur terre, mourir sur la croix, ressusciter des morts et monter au ciel. Il a ouvert la voie, tracé le chemin et reviendra nous y emmener.
Mais que devons nous faire en attendant ? Danser et chanter «Haïssez moi sur la terre, ce n’est rien ma patrie est dans les cieux ? » et attendre que Jésus revienne ? Loin de là !
Jésus nous dit bien dans sa prière en Jean 17.14-15 : « Je leur ai donné ta parole; et le monde les a haïs, parce qu’ils ne sont pas du monde, comme moi je ne suis pas du monde. Je ne te prie pas de les ôter du monde, mais de les préserver du mal. »
Oui, nous avons l’assurance par la confiance en Jésus que nous avons une place au ciel, et il faut suivre le chemin qu’il a tracé et notre part c’est de courir dans ce chemin. Une année vient de s’écouler, nous rendons grâce à Dieu, à présent continuons la course.
Il y a eu diverses situations durant notre course cette année 2014. Des milliers de personnes en Afrique de l’Ouest sont mortes de l’épidémie Ebola, d’autres sont mis en quarantaine et l’économie, la culture et les habitudes de millions de personnes ont été bouleversées.
Et tout cela nous rappelle que notre Dieu est souverain en toutes circonstances. Comme nous le dit le roi Salomon en Ecclésiaste 9.11 :
« J’ai encore observé, sous le soleil, que ce ne sont pas les plus agiles qui gagnent la course, ni les plus forts qui remportent la victoire au combat, ce ne sont pas les sages qui ont du pain, et la richesse n’appartient pas aux hommes intelligents, et les faveurs ne récompensent pas les plus savants, car chacun rencontre tour à tour des circonstances favorables et des circonstances défavorables. »
Oui, chacun de nous, durant cette année, a rencontré des circonstances favorables et des circonstances défavorables dans sa course. Mais nous avons continué de courir malgré tout.
La course s’est arrêtée pour certains qui se sont endormis dans l’espérance de la gloire. D’autres ont tout simplement abandonné la course, ou ont été déviés de leur course par « … la philosophie et par une vaine tromperie, s’appuyant sur la tradition des hommes, sur les rudiments du monde… » Colossiens 2.11.
Bien aimés, pour ne pas nous arrêter dans la course, que l’obéissance soit notre principale source de motivation.
Affirmons comme l’apôtre Paul en Actes 20.24:
« Ma vie m’importe peu, je ne lui accorde aucun prix ; mon but c’est d’aller jusqu’au bout de ma course et d’accomplir pleinement le service que le Seigneur m’a confié c’est-à-dire de proclamer la Bonne Nouvelle de la grâce de Dieu. »
Et ayons constamment devant nous cette déclaration : « Maintenant, est-ce la faveur des hommes que je recherche ou celle de Dieu ? Est-ce que je cherche à plaire aux hommes ? Si je plaisais encore aux hommes, je ne serais pas serviteur de Christ. » Galates 1.10.
En 2015, deux choses seront essentielles pour que nous courions dans la course sans nous décourager ni nous lasser : Que nos yeux soient fixés sur Christ et que les désirs de notre cœur soient orientés vers Christ. Non pas sur les hommes et les femmes, non pas sur les circonstances bonnes ou mauvaises mais sur Christ. Et l’Esprit de Dieu nous y aidera chaque jour.
Lorsque nos yeux sont fixés sur Jésus Christ, et que nos cœurs sont tournés vers Jésus Christ alors nos pieds resteront dans la course et nous pourrons dire comme l’apôtre Paul : « Je poursuis ma course vers le but pour remporter le prix attaché à l’appel que Dieu nous a adressé du haut du ciel dans l’union avec Jésus-Christ. » (Philippiens 3.14).
En 2015, que nos yeux soient fixés sur Jésus Christ, que nos cœurs soient orientés vers Jésus Christ et que nos pieds soient en action dans la course.
En courant, pratiquons Hébreux 12.13 : « Faites-vous des pistes droites pour votre course, afin que le pied qui boite ne se démette pas complètement, mais qu’il guérisse plutôt. » Hébreux 12.13.
Dans la version français courant, il nous est dit sur ce verset : « Dirigez vos pas vers les chemins droits, afin que le pied qui boite ne se démette pas complètement, mais qu’il guérisse plutôt. »
Bien aimés, ma prière pour l’année 2015, pour tous les frères et sœurs dans les églises à travers l’Afrique de l’Ouest est que vos pas soient dirigés vers les chemins droits. C’est à dire que vous alliez dans les lieux qui honorent Dieu, que vous montriez l’exemple en tant que citoyen du ciel et citoyen de votre nation. Qu’en marchant dans l’intégrité dans les actes et dans les paroles, les personnes qui sont autour de vous se demandent : « Quelle est la raison de l’espérance qui est en vous ? »
Qu’en ce début d’année 2015, ce conseil de Proverbes 4.26 vous guide :
« Prépare ton chemin avant de t’y engager, et emprunte des routes sûres. »
Que le Seigneur vous bénisse et qu’il apporte la guérison complète sur toute l’étendue de nos belles nations d’Afrique de l’Ouest.
Votre frère, Pst Dany Gomis
–By Tee Latham and Monica Carr
When Emmanuel Dehpue refused a blood test it made headlines. His 11 year-old niece, Josephine, was the first to die of Ebola in Karnplay, Liberia, followed by her father Mr. Joseph Kantuah and Emmanuel’s sister-in-law. Emmanuel and his wife Reta, their children, and Joseph’s widow Victoria and her children, along with 24 others were put in quarantine. Some, like Victoria and her son Prince, came down with symptoms and were treated at the ELWA treatment center, while Emmanuel and others waited helplessly at the quarantine center. During this difficult time of isolation, one source of hope for Emmanuel came in the form of a radio devotional, broadcast by the Church of the Nazarene. The Biblical message of Christ’s redeeming love touched him.
When he was released from quarantine, Emmanuel and his extended family returned to their farm in Younlay and were devastated to discover that thieves had harvested all of their cocoa crops, and their rice crops had failed in their absence. The family now had nothing to live on. During this hard time of transition, Pastor Tee Latham, who also works with the radio ministry, came to visit the family. He prayed for the family, shared the gospel with them, and invited them to a revival conference at the Younlay church. There, the entire family received Christ as Lord. Please pray for the Dehpue and Kantuah families as they resettle, while mourning the loss of loved ones, as well as for the Younlay church.
Rev. Vidal Cole appointed as District Superintendent of Sierra Leone, West Africa.
January 7, 2015. Although the country of Sierra Leone is experiencing challenging times, God’s Kingdom is still moving forward through revivals and the commitment of wonderful leaders. Rev. Vidal Cole is one of them.
Dr. Eugenio Duarte, Africa Regional Jurisdictional General Superintendent, has appointed Rev. Vidal Cole as District Superintendent of the Sierra Leone District. He is replacing Rev. Paul Martin.
Rev. Paul and Sharon Martin served as missionaries for the Church of the Nazarene in Sierra Leone, West Africa from March 2004 to March 2013. They mentored Rev. Vidal and Marie Cole and many others to build a strong holiness foundation in the country. They now serve in Accra, Ghana in the pastoral training and education for the Africa West Field.
Rev. Vidal Cole serves as senior pastor of the Overcomers Assembly Church of the Nazarene near downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone. A life-long resident of Freetown, Vidal was raised in an Anglican family; his father was a high-level manager as a career banker.
A graduate of Albert Academy Secondary School, an Evangelical United Brethren institution in Freetown, Vidal pursued accounting and worked in banking for several years. Following his conversion as a young man, he felt called to full-time ministry. In 1995 he founded the Overcomers Assembly Church.
In 2005, through the invitation of a friend, he attended pastoral training classes offered by the Church of the Nazarene. Through new awareness he pursued and experienced the grace of entire sanctification. As he continued Nazarene ministerial studies, through his careful and wise leadership, he led his independent church into official organization in the Church of the Nazarene (Centennial Sunday 5 October 2008).
Rev. Cole has continued his biblical, theological studies. He is a graduate of Nazarene Theological Institute (2009-diploma), Nazarene Theological College-SA (2012-BTh), and is completing his Masters degree through Africa Nazarene University (MAR-to graduate 2015). He was ordained in March 2011.
He served as administrative assistant to the district superintendent 2010 – 2012 and as assistant district superintendent 2012 – 2014. In these roles, he has carried many district leadership responsibilities. As a minister and teacher, he is an effective communicator and a strong advocate of “holiness of heart and life.”
By Vidal Cole–In Freetown, our church has been experiencing God’s presence in diverse ways. Even before the Ebola crisis, we held a three day fasting and prayer revival meeting every month. This has reached a whole new level over recent months. This month, we started the revival yesterday and for the first time in these monthly revivals we broke the 50 people barrier on the first day.In previous months, it was only on Friday’s that we have had close to 50 in attendance. Yesterday, however, we had an attendance of 65 and today we had 79. The tempo is really building, and we are looking forward to what the Lord will do in our midst. There have been diverse testimonies such as God’s grace working in deeper ways in their lives in terms of time spent in prayer, the study of God’s word, and the desire for a work of holiness in their lives, God’s protection, goodness, mercy and provision throughout this crisis time.In general, I can sense that there’s is a rising hunger and thirst in the hearts of many and it’s just awesome to see what God is doing even in a crisis time like this.We are experiencing God’s presence in great ways during the praise and worship; some people burst out in praise; others prostrate before The Lord in worship; others kneel, cry. It’s just amazing. Every night after preaching, I do two altar calls, the first for salvation and the second for sanctification. Recently, two young men from another major religion got saved and they have never missed a service after that. There is so much excitement in church these days and no one wants to miss out, whether it’s on Sunday’s or week days; every week comes with a new excitement and longing to experience God in deeper ways.It’s not all bad news as paraded by the media; God is doing something in the midst of it all.
By Vidal Cole–
The news of the provision of rice for the Nazarene churches in the Sierra Leone district was greeted with great joy and delight by the section leaders and the pastors. As a result of the Ebola outbreak; many people lost their jobs and their source of income making it difficult to provide food for themselves and their families. Rice is the staple food in Sierra Leone; however, because of its rising cost the majority of the people are struggling to provide it for their families. The news that a bag of rice was to be shared in every church brought with it much celebration. The distribution went well and all the intended beneficiaries received rice. A total of 68 churches and church plants spread across five sections in the Sierra Leone District received rice: including four in Freetown, Lumely, Waterloo, Kissy and Central, as well as one in the eastern part of the country, Segbwema.
Many, like Pastor Steven Kanu of Waterloo, shared their thanks:
I am very happy for this rice. So many people have died in my section area (Waterloo). Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether they died of Ebola or hunger. The truth, however, is that we are not just fighting Ebola–we are also fighting hunger. This rice calls for much celebration because it came at the right time when our people are desperate for food but cannot afford it . . .
Pastor David Manna from Kissy shared:
I thank God and NCM for this rice. After I informed the pastors in my section about this rice . . . they told me that in some of their churches the people, upon hearing the news, began to sing and dance. They expressed that the Church of the Nazarene has done good things for them . . .
From Segbwema, Pastor Emmanuel Jusu Francis gives this praise:
As a section we are very grateful to God for the rice. Because we find ourselves in a quarantined area, life has been really difficult for us. Our people have been used to going to the farm and getting food for themselves, but with the present situation nothing has been moving– no farming, no business no income; it has really been tough. This rice has made my people very happy, that the church has remembered them in a crisis like this, and their hearts are filled with joy.
Pastor Marie Kamara says:
Many of our people have been struggling to find food and I know that this rice will bring relief to them. This will help the church know that we are doing our best to help in diverse ways to show them our love and care during this difficult time in the country.
The Church of the Nazarene in Sierra Leone is extremely thankful for this consignment of rice. We appreciate it very much and we are grateful to God and to NCM for making this possible.
By Daniel Johnson–
At the Good News Church of the Nazarene in Monrovia, one member contracted the Ebola Virus Disease and several others were quarantined.
Mrs. Betty Bonner, a member of the Good News Church of the Nazarene was discharged from the Island Hospital ETU, where she tested positive for the deadly Ebola viral disease and subsequently treated; her husband and children were quarantined for 21 days.
We are thankful to God that Mrs. Bonner is a survivor of Ebola, and her children and husband went through the 21 days of observation with none of them contracting the virus. The Bonner family reunited with the Good News Church of the Nazarene family in Monrovia on Sunday, November 16, 2014.
Sando Welloh contracted the Ebola virus and died a few days later. While she was sick she was cared for by her mother, Frances Welloh (a Nazarene); after the death of her daughter, she was quarantined for 21 days. We praise the Lord that Frances did not contract the Ebola virus as well.
Bro. Gabriel Swen (a Nazarene) took care of a sick person in his community, who later was confirmed dead of the Ebola virus. Brother Gabriel, like the others went through the period of 21 days of observation; and as the Lord would have it, he remained Ebola free.
To God be the glory for great and marvelous things He has done for His people and His church.
by Vidal Cole/
This afternoon, I was in class at Waterloo during lunchtime when I received a paragraph from Larry Myer, the Africa West Field Jesus Film coordinator:
I would be remiss to not share about our Jesus Film Leaders in Sierra Leone that, despite the literal barrel of Ebola pointed at them, they gathered, showed and led MANY to the Lord in the midst of this terrible outbreak, seizing the opportunity to offer Hope in what some call a hopeless situation. I am moved to tears at their steadfastness in sharing the Gospel Message where illness and even death could strike! Their dedication is an example for us all and a fulfillment of what we are called to do, to lay down our lives for our brothers for the cause of Christ! Well done good and faithful servants, may the Lord keep you in His embrace!
When we returned after lunch, I read it to the class and everyone was deeply touched. After I finished reading it, I invited the class to pray just like we normally do every day after lunch and suddenly Pastor Steven’s phone rang. The next thing we heard was his voice screaming. “What!?”
He then told us that he had just been informed that his closest neighbors, one on either side of his house, had just died from Ebola. They had been sick and they were taken to the hospital over the weekend. We considered the way Larry had described our situation and we all broke down; the entire class burst into tears. After a while, we pulled ourselves together and we prayed with Pastor Steven before he left to be with his family.
Upon arriving home, he called to tell us that he found every member of his family okay though worried and fearful. We praised God with him in spite of it all. It had suddenly dawned on him that the virus had been in their home area. It had hit the house in front of him, jumped over his house and landed in the next house after theirs. We consider this a miracle and we started singing the song “When I See the Blood, I Will Pass Over You”.
As we continue to minister in the jungle, in the valley of the shadow of death, we refuse to fear any evil. We are assured that The Lord is with us and His rod and staff will comfort us.
I called Pastor Steven this evening and he told me that the disinfectant team sprayed and disinfected the entire neighborhood. We are trusting that his family continues to be okay.
Please continue to pray for us, your prayers have kept us going. Honestly, sometimes, I really wonder where we get the grace and strength to move on in the midst of this crisis, however, I have no doubt — it is The Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our sight.
Standing together as a global church.
For months, the Church of the Nazarene has been responding to the needs of sisters and brothers in West Africa who have been affected by the Ebola virus. The global church is continuing to partner with local churches to bring critically needed supplies, educational materials, and a compassionate presence to those in need. Today we ask that you join us as we pray, fast, and give.
Will you watch and share this video and encourage your church, small group, and friends to join us in supporting our global church during this time of great need?
To download the video, prayer guides, and fasting resources, or to give financially visit NCM.org/EbolaRelief.
Thank you for joining us as we stand together as a global church.