Ebola — A cry for faith

Prayer for Ebola victims

(Photo by Kathleen Berry, UMNS)

The story of the four men who let their friend down to Jesus through a roof demonstrates the kind of faith that has to be shown to the many people who are poor and caught in the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The faith demonstrated by the friends was unprecedented.

The faith demonstrated by the friends was unprecedented.

It was so crowded that it seemed impossible to get near Jesus. The four needed an alternative, creative means of getting help for their friend. They realized that teamwork and a quick response was essential: swift action that would enable healing, and that had to happen immediately.

So what did they do? They took a risk, one that probably had not been done before; it was filled with danger, for they might have gotten hurt.

Issues did not matter

It was an opportunity that was likely costly, for who would pay for the broken roof?

It was an opportunity that would engender criticism, that would be disruptive, even taking a chance on the safety of those below.

Faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of what is not seen.

But those issues did not matter, a friend needed urgent help, and these four would bring their efforts and their faith to make a difference for a sick friend. The mission was accomplished. Jesus not only saw the man who was lowered down through the roof, but he also saw the faith of the friends. Their faith made a difference.

Faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of what is not seen (Hebrews 11:1). The friends saw wholeness, restoration, and God’s glory, rather than what was apparent. These four men would follow the footsteps of Esther, Ruth and little Miriam as she dashed to bring her mother to the princess. All of them, like the four friends, made a huge difference as their faith brought glory to God.

Faith that overwhelms circumstances

Similarly, the Ebola patients in West Africa need such friends: people whose faith overwhelms the circumstances and all the reasons to ignore the crisis — reasons of cost, inconvenience, time, risk, efforts, responsibilities, and the challenges of addressing a disease demanding a fight, a struggle that calls for combined efforts, a battle that has challenged the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the health experts who have done this before.

But, like the men in Luke 5 and Mark 2, the dire need of a friend has to be tackled, because this is beyond the sick one. God’s glory is at stake.

Scripture reminds us that a friend loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17), a friend is loyal, born to help in time of need (Proverbs 17:17), a friend is even willing to lay down his life (John 15:13-15). Jesus’ example of the perfect friend calls us to go and do likewise, even teaming up and putting a friend through a roof.

Our prayer is that the victims of Ebola, who are disproportionately poor, often victims of social injustice, and extremely ill, will have such friends, those of great faith who will accomplish the impossible through Christ.

Liberia outreach on Ebola

An outreach team from Miller McAllister United Methodist Church, Ganta, Liberia, gathers rice, bags of charcoal, buckets with chlorine and soap, drinking water and other food for families infected with Ebola. (Photo by the Rev. Anna Kaydor Labala, UMNS)

Editor's note: Rose Farhat, a Liberian, earned her M. Div. at Wesley Theological Seminary. She heads Women of Prayer & Praise, a nonprofit organization targeted towards education of women and girls in West Africa. While attending Wesley, she served as an intern at the General Board of Church & Society working in the area of Women’s & Children’s Concerns. She can be reached via email at Rose Farhat.

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