Oct. 7, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Ebola continues its deadly sweep across West Africa — the death toll rising to some 3,500 at this writing — the people of the LCMS continue to respond with prayer and support for our relief efforts.
So far, we have given mercy grants totaling $67,729 to help our brothers and sisters in the most afflicted nations — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — grants made possible by the generosity of LCMS members.
In Liberia, we are providing food supplies and other essentials, particularly for people who can’t get to their workplaces to make a living. We’re also offering sanitation and cleaning supplies to households as a preventive measure. And, we are engaging with Lutheran congregations and schools to educate people on how Ebola is spread and contained.
Meanwhile, in Sierra Leone and Guinea, we are assisting with providing food in remote areas where basic supplies are not available.
Everything the LCMS is doing, working through our main point of contact, missionary David Erber, the Synod’s area director for West Africa, is being done with church leaders in the region. This is the best way — assisting our partners as they have the ability to use our help. We can do much more together than alone, as was demonstrated recently in the highly successful Lutheran Malaria Initiative.
The same holds true within our Synod. Many have contacted our offices wondering how they can help fight Ebola. The most effective way is to give through the LCMS, allowing our missionaries and staff to come alongside African church leaders to coordinate with our LCMS Disaster Response and Health Ministry efforts. The Synod’s online giving page — http://www.lcms.org/givenow/epidemics — is for this purpose, directing funds to the LCMS’ Epidemics & Infectious Diseases Response Fund.
The battle to save lives from Ebola will be a long fight, some saying up to two years. And now there are reports of another disease, the so-called Marburg virus, coming out of Uganda. We will be in this for the long haul — that is a hallmark of LCMS mercy work. As Lutherans, we stay until the job is done, bringing physical aid and comfort even as we proclaim the Gospel.
The Church’s work of mercy extends beyond national borders, and it cooperates with others in meeting human need. That is the model of our current battle against Ebola — Christ’s love for the whole person, body and soul, as our supreme example for life in this world. Christian service of our neighbor finds its source, motivation and example in Christ’s incarnate, redeeming, atoning, active love (Phil. 2:1-11). Every aspect of the faith drives us outside ourselves to care for our neighbor.
I invite you to share the contents of this letter with your congregation.
With thanksgiving to God for your faithful service on behalf of the Gospel, I remain
Yours in Christ,
Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod