West Africa (IMB) — This is a first-person letter
written by International Mission Board missionary
James Burch after Ebola struck the West African
village where he served.
I have no doubt that pretty much everyone reading
this, has heard at least a little bit about the Ebola
outbreak currently going on in West Africa. You
may remember that I actually wrote about it when
it was just starting back in March. As I penned
those words a few months ago, I never could have
guessed the impact that this disease would have.
So many things have changed. So many lives have
been claimed. So many families unexpectedly
This somewhat “no name” country that I stepped
into eight months ago now has the world’s eyes on
it. Honestly, it’s been strange to have a front-row
ticket to it all. We have watched Ebola spread on
our maps, and we have seen the fear that seems
to lie heavy in the air. But it was never on our
doorstep. Though we were close, we still had the
distance between the stage and our seats.
However this past week, Ebola came home. We
have now had a confirmed death from Ebola in our
village/town. Even though so far it has only been
one death, the news is still sobering.
seen it move from a small village to now multiple
countries, so we are forced not to take even this
one death lightly.
So the question now is: what do we do? Do we
stay? Do we go? [Our company] lets us make our
own decision, as long as they consider us to be
capable of doing so. They fully support us in
strategically staying, or strategically going. So, we
are left with a choice. And for now, that is to stay. I
know many will question this decision, but that’s
okay. Opposed to popular (at least secular)
thought, we aren’t trying to be some heroes. We
are just ordinary people trying to follow an
Years ago, each one of us gave our lives to Christ.
But even before that, two thousand years ago,
Jesus purchased our lives by giving His. He paid
the price in full, so that means our lives are no
longer our own. They are His, and He can use
them as He sees fit. He has still given us peace to
do His work here. He has still provided us a way to
be effective in the community, maybe even more
I have no idea what lies ahead. Someday, maybe
even soon, it may come to a point where we could
better serve in a different location than we are
now. However at this moment, all we know is that
time hasn’t come yet.
We ask for continued prayer for this region as a
whole and for Ebola to be stopped in its tracks.
More importantly, we ask that people would see
their need for Christ in this pressing time, and in
fact, at every time. We ask that you plead the Spirit
to do His work here, because eyes cannot be
opened without Him. And also we ask for the
Lord’s wisdom as we continue by His grace to
follow wherever He may lead.
So yes, Ebola has come home. Yet even now, we
rest in the fact that though this thief has come only
to steal, kill, and destroy, Christ has come that
these beautiful hurting people here may have life
and have it abundantly.
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