Bishop John Pessima (center) and other workers with newly-arrived boxes of relief supplies.

Bishop John Pessima (center) and other workers with newly-arrived boxes of relief supplies.

Unloading supplies sent for Ebola relief.

Unloading supplies sent for Ebola relief.

Bishop John Pessima (right) and others with supplies sent to Mattru Hospital by UBs in Berlin.

UB workers with supplies sent to Mattru Hospital by UBs in Berlin.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Rev. John Pessima, bishop of Sierra Leone National Conference, reports that the distribution of items gathered by United Brethren churches in the Eastern United States has gained the attention of local and national radio, TV, and print media. With the assistance of the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone (CHASL), 50% of the items are being sent to the western region, 20% to the north, and the remaining 25% to the south. CHASL has also been instrumental in clearing the containers with port authorities, including the container that delivered the pallet of food items and the 40-foot container of medical supplies we had the privilege of underwriting.

In addition, Ebola relief supplies have come from the United Brethren church in Berlin, Germany, which consists largely of immigrants from Sierra Leone. Dr. Ladipol of the Berlin congregation has spearheaded efforts to provide for Ebola relief, including for our own Mattru Hospital.

Continue to pray for the complete eradication of Ebola. According to the Associated Press, a quarantine was imposed in a fishing district of the capital city, Freetown, after at least five new Ebola cases were confirmed there, an official said on February 14.

The report said Sierra Leone has seen nearly 11,000 confirmed, probable, and suspected Ebola cases during the worst Ebola outbreak in history. That’s the most of any country, according to the World Health Organization. Despite a drop in cases, transmission in Sierra Leone remains widespread, with 76 new cases confirmed in the previous week, according to WHO.

 

Roger and Marilyn Reeck (right) are UB endorsed missionaries in Honduras. They serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Roger has had continuing ankle problems for several years. Here is an update received on February 13.

It is wonderful and comforting to have such a great group of caring, prayerful people that we can approach at this time.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). This verse has become a reality in our lives over the last months.

Roger and I leave from Honduras for Medford, Oregon this Saturday, February 14. On Tuesday, February 17, Roger will undergo a total ankle replacement. The main requests are: good pain control, good healing (no infection), and protection from blood clots since Roger has a prior history.

The effectiveness of this operation will determine our contributions in the future. We rely on God’s promises.These are some of the things that are causing us to be hopeful and grateful:

  1. The Lord’s provision in all areas.
  2. A Christian doctor who commits everything to prayer and recognizes that he is an instrument of God.
  3. Housing in Medford: Dr. Owen, the orthopedic surgeon and his wife have graciously offered to host us in their home for the two weeks after the operation.
  4. A great place to stay during the recuperation period. After Medford, we will spend several weeks at the Wycliffe center in Tucson.

The basketball world is mourning the death of legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith. There is an interesting, if somewhat obscure, United Brethren connection. UB minister Steve Barber called in with some details.

Rev. Cecil (C. R.) Smith was a former minister in Illinois; the churches he pastored included the Manlius, Coleta, and Mt. Carroll UB churches. On the side, he coached high school basketball. Dean Smith was his nephew (his brother’s son). As Steve Barber said, it’s easy to imagine that somewhere along the line, Dean Smith showed up at a United Brethren church to hear his uncle preach.

Rev. Smith had two daughters, both of whom became United Brethren missionaries. They would be first cousins to Dean Smith. Leora (Smith) Ackerman and her husband, Don, spent 11 years as missionaries in Honduras, 1947-1958. Juanita (Smith) Guenzler was a UB missionary nurse in Sierra Leone, 1950-1965. So at some family gatherings, perhaps Dean Smith received some spiritual inspiration from hearing stories about his cousins serving Christ in distant lands.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Global Ministries, through its partnership in with International Needs, is now working on Turkey’s border, where refugees are flooding in from Syria and Iraq. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees counts over 1.6 million refugees (and growing) now living in Turkey. Most are from Syria. Half of them are children.

We invite you to help support these efforts.

The Islamic State (ISIS) and fighting in Syria has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes. Now they are trying to survive in camps amidst snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Christians are meeting the refugees in their despair, providing hope found in Christ alone.

Behnan Knotgun, director of International Needs Turkey, is with refugees handing out warm clothing, blankets, and firewood for cooking and heating. He reports that the needs are great. Although Turkey is predominantly Muslim and the nation’s evangelical church is very small, he says, “They have done marvelous things for the refugees. They are welcomed by the local authorities. They respect the churches, and they welcome us very well.”

Konutgan says many refugees were stuck in the mountains without food or water. The stories from the mountains are horrible. One woman told Konutgan that some women, not wanting to see their children suffer, threw them off the mountains to their death.

Another woman told him that she gave her daughters to a Saudi man and gave him $50. He said he would take care of them until the conflict ended. She hasn’t heard from the man and believes her daughters were kidnapped.

Konutgan says the refugees want to know about Jesus. And in the midst of tragedy, God is working. “They hear the Bible, so this is a good opportunity for the Gospel. I’m sure they will come to Christ Jesus. There are thousands of people among them who secretly say they love Jesus.”

To help with refugee support, you can send contributions to Global Ministries. Contributions will then be forwarded to International Needs.

Global Ministries
302 Lake Street
Huntington, IN 46750

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At the Honduras Conference waterpark.

At the Honduras Conference waterpark.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Honduran National Conference is working hard to develop numerous sources of income for church planting, pastoral assistance, and missions. With very limited resources, they have found it necessary to be creative and ingenious. The new waterpark at the conference retreat center is just one example.

The property lies on the coastal highway just outside the city of La Ceiba. It was purchased fifteen years ago. Since that time, a traditional pool and some picnic shelters were built. However, the long-range plan after completing the waterpark is to build a sports complex, a conference center for business meetings and receptions, and a small hotel and bungalows for snow birds. They are targeting local schools, municipal programs, and local businesses. But they would also market to tourists.

I had the opportunity to tour the center on January 15. They’ve made a great start as the project moves one stage at a time. They don’t overlook a single opportunity to turn a profit, including the sale of fruit that grows on the property.

If you’d like to know more about this project, contact us at info@ubglobal.org.

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.