Bishop John Pessima (right) of Sierra Leone Conference reports that the Ebola crisis has crippled the economy and basic food prices have soared. Offerings have been taken locally, and rice has been purchased and distributed among UB churches. But their resources are limited.

Bishop Pessima has traveled regularly among churches to encourage and pray for pastors and members. He is particularly concerned about our nine churches in Liberia whom they have not been able to visit or help.

United Brethren churches and individuals have already generously provided thousands of dollars to help with the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. However, the crisis is far from over, and may indeed become much worse.

Any continuing gifts you provide for Ebola relief will be passed on without any administrative fees being taken out. You can send donations to:

Global Ministries
302 Lake Street
Huntington, IN 46750

A pallet of food being loaded onto a truck at Cochranton Community Church, for shipment to Sierra Leone.

A pallet of food being loaded onto a truck at Cochranton Community Church, for shipment to Sierra Leone.

Containers at a shipyard.

Containers at a shipyard.

United Brethren pastors Joe Abu (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Michael Mudge (Cumberland, Md.) worked with a cluster of UB churches in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to fill a 20-foot container with medical supplies and equipment. The churches secured donations, purchased items, and raised all but $2000 of the $8000 needed to send the shipment. The additional $2000 was provided from generous gifts sent to Global Ministries.

Another container with food items donated by UBs is now on its way to Sierra Leone through the organization Brother’s Brother, and we funded a second container filled with medical supplies for sierra Leone.

Global Ministries learned that the Brother’s Brother was sending a 40-foot container of medical and relief supplies to Sierra Leone (in 2010, Brother’s Brother provided 76 hospital beds to Mattru Hospital). They had room for one pallet of food items and offered it to us, but we had to get the pallet to Pittsburgh within two weeks.

Pastor Steve Clulow and his folks at Cochranton UB church (Cochranton, Pa.) offered to receive all donated food and prepare the pallet. With the help of Dave Staples, a church member who owns a shipping supplies company, they delivered the pallet in time.

A Baptist group paid the $11,000 needed to send that container; other containers were funded by other denominations. We agreed to underwrite the next container, and once again UB donors stepped forward. When Brother’s Brother told us they had the next container packed with nearly $400,000 of medical supplies, we were able to send a check for $11,000 that same day and commit to covering the clearing fees once the container arrived in Freetown.

John Pessima, bishop of Sierra Leone Conference, was contacted by Dr. Ladipoh, a Sierra Leonean who studied medicine in Germany. Dr. Ladipoh is board chairman of the UB church in Berlin, which includes many immigrants from Sierra Leone.

Dr. Ladipah is also vice chairman of Bintumani, an organization in Germany that has provided countless supplies to Mattru Hospital over the years.

He and members of the Berlin United Brethren church sent 14 cartons of Ebola equipment and supplies for the hospital. Everything arrived in early November.

Do you know someone who enjoys working with a small church body, teaching informal classes to build relationships, and has a heart for evangelism and discipleship?

Jen Blandin, part of the Global Ministries staff in Macau, will be on a scheduled home ministry assignment from March–August 2015. We are praying for the right person to substitute for her during all or most of that period. This person will work with the Living Stone UB church in Macau and with another missionary to impact this city of over 500,000 people.

Despite over 200 years of Protestant missions, Macau is still only 1.6% evangelical. Pray with us that the right person will be found for this temporary position, and ask that God will turn the Gambling Capital of the World to Himself!


Earlier this week, a very impressive young couple visited the UB National Office in Huntington, Ind. They are preparing for missionary service in an “undisclosed” (as we say) country on the other side of the world, where they will train church leaders to be more effective in their work. The husband is the son of a former United Brethren pastor. As a staff, we laid hands on them and prayed for them.

We can’t tell you who they are. For security reasons, they don’t want their names or photos appearing anywhere on the internet–websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Such is the case with a growing number of missionaries who serve in “restricted access” countries. (Churches–be careful what you post about missionaries you support.)

Global Ministries supports a number of such missionaries, and some are doing fascinating work for the Lord. But, frustratingly, we can’t tell you about them. However, you can still pray for these unnamed persons who minister in potentially hostile situations. God knows who they are.

Dr. Martin Salia

Dr. Martin Salia

Steve Dennie, Director of Communications

Dr. Martin Salia passed away shortly before 4 am Monday morning, November 17. He had been diagnosed with Ebola on November 10. An air ambulance flew him to the United States on Friday night, November 14. He arrived Saturday afternoon at the Nebraska Medical Center, one of four US facilities equipped to handle highly infectious and dangerous diseases.

Heroic Measures to Save Dr. Salia’s Life

When he arrived, Dr. Salia was already in critical condition, with no kidney function and respiratory failure. Within 12 hours, he was in complete respiratory failure. Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Nebraska biocontainiment unit, said, “We used every possible treatment available to give Dr. Salia every possible opportunity for survival.”

That included continual dialysis, a ventilator, blood plasma from Ebola survivors, and various drugs, including ZMapp, the drug used on Dr. Kent Brantley and other Ebola survivors.

Smith continued, “As we have learned, early treatment with these patients is essential. In Dr. Salia’s case, his disease was already extremely advanced by the time he came here for treatment.”

Salia arrived on what was determined to be day 13 of his illness (people don’t show symptoms right away). The two previous Ebola patients treated at the Nebraska Medical Center, both of whom survived, arrived on days 6 and 8.

Dr. Salia was chief medical officer and surgeon at the 60-bed Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, and also helped at several other medical facilities. It’s not known where he contracted the disease.

His body will be cremated. An autopsy is too dangerous, since the bodies of Ebola victims are extremely contagious.

Statement from Jeff Bleijerveld

Sierra Leone Conference funded the medical training of Dr. Salia, sending him to Burkina Faso to a school which specialized in training missionary doctors. In recent years, Dr. Salia was involved as a consultant and occasional visiting physician at Mattru Hospital, the United Brethren hospital in Sierra Leone.

Rev. Jeff Bleijerveld, who knew Dr. Salia through his role as Director of Global Ministries for United Brethren churches in the US and Canada, issued this statement:

“I am saddened by the death of Dr. Martin Salia. This highly skilled surgeon served his countrymen selflessly and with a strong Christian witness. In addition to his employment at Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Dr. Salia graciously volunteered his services to our hospital in Mattru, Sierra Leone. People across the United Brethren in Christ denomination, in 18 countries, will be remembering Mrs. Salia and their two sons in prayer.”

Dr. Salia with his wife and two sons.

Dr. Salia with his wife and two sons.

The Salia Family

Dr. Salia leaves behind a wife and two sons, ages 20 and 12, who live in New Carrollton, Md. According to Dr. Richard Toupin, a former doctor at Mattru, Mrs. Salia came to the States in 2003 and later became a US citizen.

Mrs. Salia traveled to the Nebraska Medical Center, and was able to view her husband through a video connection. In a statement released through the medical center, she said, “In the short time we spent here, it was apparent how caring and compassionate everyone was. We are so appreciative of the opportunity for my husband to be treated here and believe he was in the best place possible.”

The Days Leading Up to the Evacuation

The Washington Post did some excellent reporting about what happened in Sierra Leone regarding Dr. Salia’s early diagnosis.

When Dr. Salia began feeling ill, the Post article said, he was taken to the 120-bed Hastings Ebola Treatment Center (a converted police training base) in the Freetown area. An Ebola test conducted by a team of Chinese lab workers yielded a negative diagnosis. Coworkers rejoiced and embraced Dr. Salia.

However, Ebola tests taken during the first three days of the illness tend to be inconclusive, because the bloodstream doesn’t yet have enough of the disease to be detected.

When Dr. Salia’s symptoms persisted—high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue–he told a coworker that, despite the negative diagnosis, he thought he had Ebola.

A second test was done on November 10, this time by a South African team at Lakka Hospital in Freetown. That test confirmed that he had Ebola.

A group of American doctors who came to the Hastings center, along with the US State department, were involved in facilitating Dr. Salia’s eventual evacuation. Mrs. Salia, a US citizen, agreed to cover the costs.

The article said Dr. Salia seemed to be constantly working, and quoted the United Methodist Bishop in Sierra Leone, John K. Yambasu, as saying, “His hobby was surgery.”

Dr. Salia told fellow doctors that he didn’t know where exactly he contracted Ebola. The Kissy hospital itself didn’t work with Ebola patients. However, Salia served at several other medical facilities.

Three of Dr. Salia’s colleagues at Kissy United Methodist Hospital are under quarantine in the surgery ward where Dr. Salia treated patients.

The Washington Post reports that since the Ebola crisis began, the disease has claimed the lives of 320 Sierra Leonean medical workers. Dr. Salia was the sixth Sierra Leonean surgeon to be stricken with Ebola. All six have died.

Contributing Toward the Costs

Mrs. Isatu Salia, 40, told the Methodist Church news service that she would pay the $200,000 cost of bringing her husband to the US.

Are you interested in contributing toward those expenses? If so, Jeff Bleijerveld, director of Global Ministries, suggests that you gives through the United Methodist Church, which employed Dr. Salia in Sierra Leone.

The Great Plains United Methodist District, which covers the states of Kansas and Nebraska, has established a “Dr. Martin and Isatu Salia Fund” to help offset the costs of medical, transportation, and other expenses related to Dr. Salia’s Ebola treatment.

Steve Dennie, Director of Communications

According to news reports, Dr. Martin Salia, 44, is on his way to the US for Ebola treatment. Dr. Salia is a surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He is a United Brethren member, but is not employed by us in any way. However, he has served as a consultant and occasional visiting physician at Mattru Hospital.

On Friday, a Phoenix Air air ambulance traveled to Sierra Leone to evaluate Dr. Salia to determine if he was stable enough to endure the long flight. According to NBC News, the plane, with Dr. Salia aboard, left Sierra Leone at 11:30 Friday night (Eastern Time) and is due to arrive at the Nebraska Medical Center around 3pm Saturday afternoon (ET). According to NBC, the medical team suggested that Salia may be sicker than other patients treated in the US.

Following is information about Dr. Salia gleaned from news reports and from conversations with various news organizations which have contacted the UB national office in Huntington, Ind.

Nebraska Medical Center

Nebraska Medical Center is one of four US facilities designed to handle infectious diseases like Ebola. Dr. Salia would become the 10th person treated for Ebola in the United States, and the third at Nebraska Medical Center. The others were infected in Liberia: missionary doctor Rick Sacra and NBC News cameraman Ashoka Mukpo.

The Center said on Thursday night (Nov. 13) that a Phoenix Air medical evacuation jet was on its way to evaluate an unnamed patient in Sierra Leone for possible evacuation to their 10-bed bio-containment unit in Omaha. The plane’s medical crew would decide whether or not “the patient is stable enough for transport.” If so, he would reach Omaha on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 15.

The United Brethren church is not involved in any efforts to bring Dr. Salia to the States, and news reports don’t identify who is underwriting the substantial expenses. There is some conflicting information. One report says Dr. Salia himself plans to cover the expenses. Perhaps the United Methodist Church, which employs Dr. Salia, is involved. We don’t know.

Inside a Phoenix Air air ambulance.

Inside a Phoenix Air air ambulance.

Dr. Salia and Kissy Hospital

Dr. Salia is the sixth Sierra Leonean doctor to be infected with Ebola. The other five have all died.

Reports say Dr. Salia showed symptoms of Ebola on November 6, but tested negative. However, when tested again on November 10, the diagnosis was positive. Salia was then taken to the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in the Freetown area. Kissy Hospital was closed the next day, and the staff was put under a 21-day quarantine.

It’s not known, or at least hasn’t yet been reported, how Dr. Salia contracted Ebola. Kissy Hospital does not deal with Ebola patients. He did help in at least three other medical facilities, as did other workers at Kissy.

The United Methodist Church website reported that, after this diagnosis, “Sierra Leone United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu and Beatrice Gbanga, the United Methodist Sierra Leone Conference’s medical coordinator, held an emergency meeting at the hospital to talk about steps to protect the staff and make sure the hospital is disinfected immediately.”

Dr. Dennis Marke is listed as the Chief Medical Officer at Kissy Hospital. Dr. Marke, also, is from a United Brethren background and has worked as a surgeon at Mattru Hospital.

Two Quarantines

The UMC article says that in September, a patient at Kissy Hospital was diagnosed with Ebola, and died after having been transferred to the government’s Connaught Hospital in Freetown. At Kissy, certain parts of the hospital were closed and the staff put under a 21-day quarantine. Dr. Salia was diagnosed with Ebola several weeks after that 21-day quarantine expired.

With Dr. Salia’s diagnosis, the staff at Kissy was put under another 21-day quarantine, starting Tuesday, November 11. The UMC article states, “The Sierra Leone Conference Ebola response team will provide a 50-kilogram (110-pound) bag of rice, sugar, milk, soap, water, and other food to the quarantined staff. The staffers also will receive minutes for their cell phones so they can report on their health condition in case of any emergency or deteriorating health.”

The United Methodist Church also operates Mercy Hospital in Bo, the country’s second-largest city (and home to Sierra Leone Conference’s national headquarters). Two nurses at Mercy Hospital contracted Ebola, and are currently at the Hastings Treatment Center, along with Dr. Salia. Mercy Hospital was closed and quarantined on October 17; it is expected to reopen on November 17.

Dr. Salia’s Family and Legal Status

Dr. Salia’s wife, Isatu Salia, and their two sons (ages 20 and 12) live in New Carrollton, Md. It is being reported that Dr. Salia lives in Maryland, that he is a “permanent legal resident” of the US, and that he continues to hold a green card. The Associated Press described him as “a citizen of Sierra Leone but also a legal permanent US resident.” At the moment, we can’t confirm anything about his legal status, when his family came to the United States, or the circumstances under which he returned to Sierra Leone while his family remained in the US.

In a November 14 article on Voice of America News, Mrs. Salia said she hadn’t been able to speak to him since his diagnosis. She heard the news from a sister-in-law, Dr. Salia’s oldest sister, who also works at Kissy Hospital. But  say she talked to Martin on Friday. She described his voice and weak and shaky, but said he told her “I love you” in a steady voice.

Mrs. Salia says, according to Newsday, that her husband frequently travels to the US, but doesn’t stay very long “because he believes people back in Africa need him.”

Dr. Richard Toupin, a former doctor at the UB Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone, has known Dr. Salia for a number of years. He is quoted as saying of Dr. Salia, “He is one of the best-trained surgeons in his country. He is a very competent surgeon.”


Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

On Thursday Dr. Norris Friesen, director of Institutional Effectiveness at Huntington University, stopped by the Global Ministries offices. He dropped off a basket of cash and checks to assist with our relief efforts in Sierra Leone. After read the latest news on our website and Facebook pages, the faculty wanted to do something to make a difference.

In total $1816 was collected.

I can’t tell you how touched I am with their gift. We work alongside each other, overlapping as we interact with students, but their generosity truly speaks to our partnership in the gospel. We’re not just neighbors; we’re one body serving the same Kingdom purposes under Christ.

The gift will be used for our continuing relief efforts in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

I just learned, Tuesday afternoon, that a United Brethren doctor in Sierra Leone has been admitted to an Ebola Care Center. Dr. Martin Salia, a United Brethren member, is a gifted surgeon who currently serves a hospital outside Freetown. Dr. Salia has often performed surgery at the Mattru UB Hospital as a visiting physician. He participated in the strategic planning meetings that took place at the hospital in February 2013.

To date, five United Brethren members have died from Ebola. The first was Mrs. Baindu Laga, a pastor’s wife and nurse from Kenema. Just last week an entire United Brethren family from Freetown–Mr. Vandie Lansana Samuka, his wife, and two children–were buried.

In the 1990s, Sierra Leone Conference sent Dr. Salia to Burkina Faso to participate in extensive training designed for producing medical missionaries. Martin was mentored by a missionary doctor with years of experience. The idea was not just developing Martin into a good surgeon, but into a follower of Christ.

The Sierra Leone Conference helped support Martin with this training, with the understanding that he would return to work at Mattru Hospital. But then the civil war occurred, and the hospital fell into chaos and disrepair. While decisions were being processed about whether or not to take him on at Mattru Hospital, Martin landed a job at the Kissie Hospital in Freetown.

In February 2013, during the strategic planning meetings, I watched Dr. Salia perform surgery on a one-year-old boy who had a hernia the size of a softball. The surgery was amazing to watch. All of the staff were Sierra Leoneans. Christian worship music played in the background. Before any incision was made, everybody stopped what they were doing and gathered around while Dr. Salia led them in prayer. The surgery went well, and they said the boy would be running around the village within a couple of days.

In your prayers, please ask God to deliver Dr. Salia from this Ebola infection.

On November 6, Jeff Bleijerveld received this note from John Pessima, bishop of Sierra Leone Conference.

“It is sad to announce that a family in our church at Kissy (Au Memorial Church) died yesterday of Ebola. Mr. Vandie Lansana Samuka, his wife, and two children were buried last evening by the burial team. Nobody is allowed in the home for now until after 21 days.

“Please continue to pray for us as they are planing to quarantine Bo this weekend. This thing is getting worse. We are all afraid, not knowing what will happen next.”

The conference headquarters is located in Bo, the country’s second-largest city.