Missionaries Return To Ebola-Stricken Liberia
December 1, 2104
A missionary couple from Indiana flew back to Liberia last week, undeterred by the Ebola virus that's still ravaging parts of West Africa.
Travis and Gina Sheets sounded insistent, if not stubborn, when they told congregants at Colfax United Methodist Church Oct. 19, "We have work to do."
Since 2012, they've been bringing agricultural and business education to a Liberian economy crippled by decades of civil war.
Their mission is all the more pressing, Gina Sheets explained, since the Ebola outbreak has evolved from a purely medical crisis into an economic and spiritual crisis as well.
There were nearly 500 new cases of Ebola reported each week in Liberia at the height of the outbreak this summer, but that figure has fallen to about 100 in recent weeks.
Liberia still reports more cases than any other country in this year's outbreak, but neighboring Sierra Leone is experiencing the most rapid surge in new Ebola cases.
Nearly 16,000 people have contracted the sickness in West Africa.
Almost 5,700 of them have died.
In their first blog post since returning to Liberia, the Sheetses wrote Nov. 25 that the country they now call home is full of weary people.
"The stories will make your soul cry as you listen to those who would have rather suffered war (than) fight an invisible enemy, the Ebola virus," they wrote, noting that a lot has changed since they left for the U.S. in July.
"Life is different here," they wrote.
The Sheetses arrived in time for Thanksgiving; instead of celebrating an American holiday, however, they opted to dig into the work they've been itching to tackle all fall.
In addition to the long-term economic benefits of hands-on agricultural education, the Sheetses are focused on building the local community by putting people to work.
"Hiring a person, giving them a job returns their dignity; it brings excitement, and restores faith back into fragile lives," they wrote, explaining that a $20 donation is enough to employ one person for seven days.
More information about the Sheetses and their work is available at Hope In The Harvest Mission International.
Source: By Steven Porter - JC Online