The epidemic continues to spread exponentially. In October, we read gut-wrenching stories of how Ebola destroyed extended families and communities, such as what befell the 16-year-old Promise Cooper and her family. Her mother died of Ebola and her father was being quarantined, leaving Promise home with her 4 siblings, age 15, 13, 11, and 5-month. No one came by to check on the kids, not the neighbor, no relatives, not even their grandparents. They were left to fend for themselves.
This epidemic has caused me to pray a lot more for these communities. I have serious concern for those who were left orphans. Not only were they abandoned by their extended families and were struggling to stay alive, they also became vulnerable to the "bad guys" - abduction, slavery, sexual abuse, etc. There are community leaders who stepped up and agencies and churches that took these children in, but majority of them are left without any protection or aid.
This crisis also caused me to think deeper about the Christian response to suffering in the age of globalization. As the world becomes a more connected place, we can be bombarded by sad news and reports on a daily basis to a point that we feel fatigued and numbed toward these events. Yet, these events are a lot more relevant to us than before because globalization also makes diseases, acts of terrorism, and even "uprising and revolutions" travel much faster and broader. The Ebola virus has already arrived on our soil. But on a spiritual level, there is a strong anti-care, anti-love message that accompanies the Ebola virus that many local Africans are confronted with, with which we are confronted as well. The evil message is painfully summarized by a Liberian pastor: "Those who don't care and those who don't want to express their care are those who survive. Those who actually care are those who die." On a more global level, it is possible that the countries that are helping the most, the countries that send the most volunteers and doctors and nurses, those countries get infected by the viruses and suffer more casualties and losses than countries that do nothing.
My hope is that as citizens of this global village, we realize that things that happen far away are actually closer to home than ever. But more importantly, as Christians who live in the digital, more-connected-than-ever age, the orphans and widows who are struggling far away in remote countries in Africa are indeed at our door step, and the call to do something is urgent.
PS. For a list of organizations that are helping in West Africa, see here. Christian leaders in West Africa are asking for prayer that Christians can remain strong and faithful in the midst of a very depressing situation.