Rev. Billy Simbo, former bishop of Sierra Leone Conference, lives in the United States but makes frequent trips back to his homeland. He had planned to return in September, but since British Airways canceled so many flights because of the Ebola crisis, he had to delay. But now, after an eight-month absence, he’ll be back in Sierra Leone on January 17.

On Facebook, Billy wrote on January 14 that during his time in the States, “I got the opportunity to speak to Rotary Clubs in the area where I live about the Ebola outbreak and its impact on Sierra Leone and the neighboring countries. I thank God for the chance given to me to help in my own small ways to educate people and tell of the plight of our people back home. Tonight was my last speaking engagement, making the 33rd group I had spoken to with the aim of enlisting their help in our fight against Ebola. I have planted the seeds, and trust that much would come out of the efforts.”

He has a number of ministry engagements already lined up. He adds, “It would be good to be back home, away from all this cold, arctic blasts and polar vortex! I need some warm weather and cool ocean breezes. Freetown, I here I come!”

Belize. Thirteen students from Huntington University are spending January Term in Belize, working with the orphanage operated by Here’s Hope Ministries. Bob Eberly, a UB member from the Otterbein UB church (Greencastle, Pa.), is the founder and head of Here’s Hope. Bob’s son-in-law, Chris Moore, a UB endorsed missionary, is in Belize with the team from HU.

Nicaragua. On January 7, thirteen students from Huntington University, mostly members of the baseball team, left for Nicaragua. They will spend about ten days competing against Nicaraguan baseball teams and conducting clinics for Nicaraguan young people. This is the third such trip. Josh Kesler, senior pastor of The Well (Huntington, Ind.), and Jeff Dice, associate pastor of Brown Corners UB church (Clare, Mich.), are participating on the trip, as they did in 2012 and 2014.

Spain. A team of 17 students from Huntington University is headed to Spain to spend a couple weeks working with missionaries Ron and Brenda Anderson as part of their January Term. Donna Hollopeter, associate director of Global Ministries, is leading the trip. David Kline, associate director of Global Ministries, and Norris Friesen from HU drove them in two vans to O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

They were supposed to leave on Wednesday, January 7, from Chicago. However, there have been two problems. First, two of the students are Jamaicans, and visa problems are preventing them from making the trip. After reaching the airport, they were unable to board. David Kline, who was part-way back to Huntington, returned to O’Hare and took them back to Huntington. Then the rest of the group sat on the plane for a couple hours before the flight was cancelled because of mechanical problems.  It’s looking like they won’t be able to depart until Friday, Jan. 9.

Central America. Jeff Bleijerveld, director of Global Ministries, left January 7 to spend two weeks in Central America. He’s starting out in Nicaragua, attending the annual meeting of Nicaragua national conference Jan. 7-12. Next, he’ll travel north to attend the annual meeting of Honduras National Conference Jan. 12-19. He’ll conclude Jan. 19-22 with a visit to Belize, where he’ll meet up with the team from Huntington University.

France. Another team from Huntington University is spending January Term in Paris, France. This is not a Global Ministries-related trip, but is worth noting, particularly in light of Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Paris.

Bishop John Pessima (right) and conference administrator Justin Marva sort through supplies for quarantined families.

Bishop John Pessima (right) and conference administrator Justin Marva sort through supplies for quarantined families.

A Muslim mother and children receive relief supplies while under quarantine in the nearby village of Luawa Jong.

A Muslim mother and children receive relief supplies while under quarantine in the nearby village of Luawa Jong.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Last month we reported that a woman had died of Ebola at the Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone. As a result, the hospital and most of its staff came under a 21-day quarantine, along with the residents of the woman’s nearby village, Luawa Jong. Bishop John Pessima provided this update along with words of appreciation for the funds Global Ministries provided for those under quarantine, and for our nine United Brethren churches in neighboring Liberia.

I thank you so much for your assistance and support for the Sierra Leone Conference during this crisis. We appreciate the funds that were sent for the quarantine homes and Liberia. We sent some funds to the Church in Monrovia for relief.

We went to Mattru with relief for quarantined homes. A distribution team was organized, including hospital staff and community members. A total of 15 homes were supplied. Each of these homes have family members ranging from 5 to 10 in number.

We thank God because this relief was timely, and it was appreciated by both the quarantined hospital workers and community. The media was invited to take part, so it was announced over the Mattru community radio broadcasts. On a phone-in program over the radio that same night, people expressed their appreciation to the donors–Global Ministries and the Sierra Leone Conference–for their timely relief.

The day after the distribution, a lady died in one of the quarantined homes in Luawa Jong. This home has been re-quarantined for another 21 days.

In addition, we received word that the 20-foot container of medical and relief supplies gathered by United Brethren and partner churches in the Mid-Atlantic arrived and has been cleared by customs. The items will be distributed by the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone, of which we are members. The pallet of food supplies we sent should be arriving soon, along with the 40-foot container carrying $380,000 worth of Ebola medical supplies. The supplies were obtained by Brother’s Brother of Pittsburgh, Pa. Global Ministries paid for $14,000 in shipping fees, with funds provided by generous United Brethren contributors.

Justin Marva, conference administrator for Sierra Leone Conference (Jan. 3, 2015)

The Ebola outbreak has dropped drastically in Bo, Mattru, Kenema, Kailahun, Moyamba, and Pujehun in the southeast part of the country. Most of these districts are now reporting zero cases for the past week. But for Freetown and the North, the cases are still high.

At the moment, all business activities close down on every Saturday at 12 pm. Sunday is observed as a quiet day except for the usual church services, but no business activity is allowed for the rest of the day. This rule is working well at the moment, and it has discouraged people from gathering in public places on Saturday and Sundays.

Sierra Leoneans are very hopeful at the moment that the Ebola outbreak will soon be a thing of the past. The president has declared a seven-day period of prayer and fasting for God to help in this sad situation in our country.

Please continue to pray for us.

Following is an email John Pessima (right), bishop of Sierra Leone Conference, sent to Global Ministries director Jeff Bleijerveld on Monday, December 8. Jeff had already authorized sending $1000. He told Bishop Pessima, “Please don’t hesitate to make us aware of needs during this time of crisis. Our people have been very responsive and we would like to help.”

I am very grateful to the Lord for what he has been doing through you and your team for Sierra Leone since the Ebola crisis began. To be very honest with you, sometimes I become very shy and find it difficult to continuously make appeals for Sierra Leone. But I am also compelled because things are becoming more difficult by the day. We are suffering as a nation from isolation, quarantine, stigma, threats, hunger, etc., all because of this dreadful disease. Some of our members have lost their jobs because their institutions have closed down.

We have been doing our best to make sure that the hospital and staff at Mattru are secured. Justin Marva and I were there on Tuesday [Dec. 2] to investigate a case at the hospital when we had the first Ebola case. The patient traveled from Gbangbatoke to Moriba Town in Rutile, to Mokabba, and to Luawa Jong. From Luawa she was admitted at the hospital before she passed away on Tuesday. After her result proved positive on Thursday [Dec. 4], part of the hospital and some staff members were quarantined–some at the hospital and others at their homes. The total number of staff quarantined is 14. Five are at the hospital quarters and the rest are at their homes quarantined with their families.

This has worried us so much because there is not much food and other supplies from the government for quarantined homes. Individuals and organizations out here fight it out very hard to get food and other items to their families and staff. This is what we want to do for the staff and the villages involved. Apart from the hospital staff, two of our pastors and their families are quarantined also because they had connection and contact with the deceased. They are Rev. J. S. Savalie and Rev. W. O. Solomon.

I appreciate your immediate response to this call…. What you have sent is just for an emergency responce to Mattru hospital. We are also thinking of helping the churches in Kenema and Moyamba which are still quarantined and isolated. I have also been making appeals for our brethren in Liberia, because since they appealed to us for help, we have not reached them with anything.

We appreciate all what God is doing through you and our donors in North America and Canada.

If you would like to help with the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, contributions can be sent to:

Global Ministries
302 Lake Street
Huntington, IN 46750

Our Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone has had its first Ebola death. Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries, learned of the situation through an email with Bishop John Pessima and a phone conversation with Dr. Richard Toupin.

The patient came from a village two miles away. It’s not known how that person contracted Ebola, and that is a matter of high concern. The village is now under quarantine.

Also under quarantine are 13 staff at Mattru Hospital. They include one doctor and nine nurses; the rest are administrative or support staff. One of those nurses is the wife of Rev. Bondo, who pastors the Fleming Memorial United Brethren church next to the hospital.

The Bonthe District, where the hospital is located, has been kept largely free from Ebola.

Bishop Pessima will be notifying Jeff Bleijerveld of the hospital’s needs, which will include relief supplies for the persons being quarantined. Jeff says that, thanks to generous donations already made, Global Ministries will be able to respond immediately. Today, December 8, we are sending $1000 to help with the situation.

Members of the Huntington University baseball team are getting ready to spend part of January in Nicaragua, where they will conduct baseball clinics and play against local teams. This will be the third such trip; the others occurred in 2012 and 2014.

Two UB ministers will take part once again: Josh Kesler, pastor of The Well (Huntington, Ind.), and Jeff Dice, associate pastor of Brown Corners UB church (Clare, Mich.).

Do you have any used baseball equipment they could take with them? They’ll use it in the clinics with Nicaraguan kids. If so, contact Jeff Dice by email.

Global Ministries recently launched its own Facebook page. We post late-breaking news and other information there. Already, over 300 people “Like” our page. Go here.

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Every year, Global Ministries sponsors trips to our international conferences. Here are the ones currently scheduled for 2015.

January 3-10. Construction trip to Malvern Camp in Jamaica. Cost: $750 per person plus airfare. Team leader: Dwight Kuntz.

February 7–14. Construction trip to Jamaica to work on the new dining hall at Regent College of the Caribbean. Cost: $750 plus airfare. Team leader: Dwight Kuntz.

March 7–14. Ministry trip to Guatemala to work with Global Ministries partnering agency CH Global. Cost: $750 plus airfare.

April 11-25. Construction trip to Sierra Leone to work on Harmonie House at Mattru Hospital. Cost: $2500 per person. (Contingent on the Ebola crisis.)

April. The big annual Women’s Institute in Bo, Sierra Leone. Leader: Donna Hollopeter. Cost: $2500. (Contingent on the Ebola crisis.)

June 19–27. Medical mission trip to Honduras. Team leaders: Robert and Fonda Cassidy. Cost: $750 per person plus airfare.

June 26—July 8. English camp for teens in Poland. Cost: $750 per person plus airfare. The team will work with missionaries Donna and Arek Delik, church planters in Kutno.

July 25—August 1. Construction team to work at the new conference center in Masaya, Nicaragua. Cost: $750 plus airfare.

October 10-24. Construction trip to Sierra Leone to continue remodeling Harmonie House in Mattru. Cost: $2500 per person. (Contingent on the Ebola crisis.)

October 10-17. Construction trip to Jamaica to work on the new dining hall at Regent College of the Caribbean. Cost: $750 plus airfare. Team leader: Dwight Kuntz.

November 11-21. Ministry/vision trip to Macau. Cost: $2500 per person. More information will be presented at the UB National Conference in Michigan in July 2015.