Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me – Jesus (Matt 25:40)
In March of this year I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ben Town, Liberia with Dean Chollar and Bruce McIntosh of CrossWay International. In Ben Town, CrossWay has started a school, built a training center, and had a well drilled (read about some of their work here).
I was invited to teach at a Pastor’s Conference where we helped 15-20 (depending on the day) pastors understand their role, learn how to study the Bible, as well as taught from the Gospel of Mark. On this trip I got a chance to experience first hand third world living conditions.
On this trip, I met Isaac. He is Crossway’s field director in Liberia. A man who has a huge heart for God and the people of Liberia.
Isaac manages the water well, which provides the water to the people of Ben town. Twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening – people are free to come and draw the water they need. Many walk what I guess is a mile or more to get to this resource.
Isaac also manages the training center, which also serves as the home for his family. He organizes and runs the school that Crossway built, hiring teachers, making sure they have supplies, and maintaining the building. Last year the school served 125 kids in three rooms. In addition to all of this Isaac pastors a church in Monrovia (around 30+ minutes away).
While I was there Dean and Isaac shared their plans to expand the school so that they could offer more grades and allow more kids to have an opportunity to get an education. They also would like to plant a church in Ben Town.
These plans are on hold.
Around 10-15 days after I returned to the USA the Ebola outbreak spread into Liberia (initial reports). Days later Isaac wrote to tell us that confirmed cases of Ebola were very close to where they live. Since March, as you know, the outbreak has gotten worse. In Liberia alone over 4000 cases have been reported and over 2000 have died (numbers which many think are under-reported). And right now many are worried that the situation may get worse before it gets better.
Over the last 6 months I have kept in touch with Isaac. He has reported that people are confused and scared. Life is at a standstill.
We take for granted access to medical supplies and a constant stream of information. But for the people in rural areas of Liberia (like Ben Town) these are not available. The people in Ben Town live in modest homes that are little more than wooden structures and tin roofs. Most survive on a diet of rice and casava roots.
- they have no local grocery store
- they have no pharmacy
- they have no car
Therefore the people lack both the access and financial resources to buy things like bleach, which is used to kill the Ebola virus and disinfect things. Nor can they buy gloves or masks to protect themselves.
Most people do not have cars so they walk, hitchhike, or use a taxi or bus to go the market, school, and work. With Ebola people are afraid to be around others and avoid traveling with others and congested areas like the market. Many are no longer going to work and the school in Ben Town remains closed. People are no longer able to earn a living or get an education.
We click a link and can find out the signs and symptoms of Ebola as well as how it is transmitted. But people in Ben Town and other rural areas have limited access to good information. There is limited or no Internet, newspapers, or radio. So people can’t look up how Ebola spreads. They don’t know how to protect themselves.
Isaac is working to help people in Liberia trapped by these circumstances. He and others are distributing what they are calling “sanitary buckets”. Each of these buckets contain gloves, masks, soap, and bleach.
Isaac and others travel around Liberia distributing these along with food. As they distribute them they tell people about Ebola and how to protect themselves from the disease using these supplies. They also use this as an opportunity to share the gospel and point people to Christ. (For more information check out Allen Mann’s blog where he wrote about his recent trip to Liberia to help (here, here, and here).
The obvious danger in doing this work is that Isaac and others are putting themselves at great risk for getting Ebola. There are some less obvious dangers. Because people are angry, scared, and don’t have information they can do foolish things. In Guinea, a neighboring country, Isaac’s cousin Mamy and 7 others were killed distributing “sanitary buckets” to villagers who had no access to medical care. They were killed by villagers who thought that the bleach they were handing out was the Ebola virus.
When I met him I thought of Isaac as a “hero of the faith”, who endured much to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those around him. Someone who captured Jesus’ call to help the needy. And that was before the outbreak. But what he is doing now is truly amazing. Isaac is willing to distribute “sanitary buckets”, food, and the gospel to the people of Liberia at great risk.
But he is asking for help.
Each sanitary bucket costs approximately $15.
Isaac is in need of your help to continue to buy the supplies that he distributes. I am asking you to consider donating to Crossway to support Isaac’s work in Liberia.