By Bob Allen
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship announced Aug. 20 it was responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in partnership with the Baptist World Alliance, a global Baptist network that accepted the CBF as a member in 2003.
A news release from CBF headquarters in Decatur, Ga., said the 1,800-church organization has contributed $5,000 toward a joint $35,000 fundraising campaign spearheaded by Baptist World Aid, the relief-and-development arm of the Falls Church, Va.,-based BWA, and the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention.
“CBF is deeply moved by the suffering among our West African friends caused by the Ebola outbreak,” said David Harding, the group’s international disaster response director.
The BWA/LBMEC project aims to provide food, educational materials and sanitation supplies to 100 pastors and 100 communities across Liberia associated with the country’s Baptist churches and institutions.
Those institutions include CBF partners like Ricks Institute, a leading K-12 school in Liberia, and Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, currently led by an interim president on loan from Mercer University for 2014.
Both schools, along with the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention-sponsored Lott Carey Mission School, are closed under a 90-day state of emergency declared by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Aug. 6.
The BWA launched its response to the Ebola outbreak Aug. 6 with a $5,000 contribution to Sierra Leone to assist in a public education campaign about the disease.
Harding, who with his wife, Merrie, serves CBF global missions in Ethiopia and other locations around the world, emphasized the importance of an educational response to the crisis and supporting Liberian Baptists during their time of need.
“Our role is to come alongside the communities influenced by our partners like Ricks Institute and Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary to help them address this crisis,” Harding said. “There is fear of the unknown that needs an educational response on how to avoid infection. We join with the Baptist World Alliance and Baptist bodies around the world to answer the appeals for help that we hear from our friends.”
According to the World Health Organization, more than 2,200 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola since March, making it the biggest outbreak on record. More than 1,200 people have died. Two American aid workers infected with Ebola while working in West Africa were taken to a containment unit in Atlanta for treatment.
A WHO situation assessment Aug. 19 reported encouraging signs in Nigeria and Guinea, while noting the outbreak is not under control and progress is fragile, with a risk of another flare-up occurring at any time.
The CBF press release encouraged donations to support efforts to address the Ebola crisis either online at www.bwanet.org/give or mailed to Baptist World Aid, c/o Baptist World Alliance, 405 N. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046.