Dear Rev Themi Friends & Supporters,
Over the past 2 weeks, Rev Themi has agonised about returning to Australia during the EBOLA crisis in SL.
Below is his email I received a few days ago and I think it is proper that I share it with you all; because of his email, I will be contacting our committees in Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne over the next week to determine how we handle this situation in regards to our fundraisers.
Christ be with you.
As you know my return annual fund raising trip to Australia this year was booked for August 7th. This booking was made 12 months ago well before the recent lethal and tragic Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Therefore following from our recent telephone conversation I would like to explain my reasons for the firm and even hard decision I have made to postpone this year’s return trip to Australia.
Our Lord Jesus has taught that the shepherd of the flock does not run away when danger or an enemy approaches but remains to protect the sheep. The hireling runs away. “But he that is a hireling and not the shepherd … seeing the wolf coming leaves the sheep and flees….the hireling flees because he cares not for the sheep. (St. John 10. 12-13). I am not a hireling!
Consequently since the next 30 to 60 days are the most crucial in this current Ebola crisis my natural place for the next few months or as long as the emergency period remains is here in Sierra Leone.
Our Mission is serving over 3000 families – school pupils, college students, two congregations and Mission staff. We are in the front line of this incurable epidemic. Consequently there is much I have to do here to ensure the protection of our people:
- There is a need for a central coordinator to ensure that strict safety, health and even quarantine measures are put in place in all the Mission compounds and projects.
- It is imperative we continue Ebola education and sensitisation since some people are in denial here or submit to irrational myths.
- The Mission’s budget needs to be seriously revised in the light of this emergency period. I have to be here to supervise this process.
- I need to be here to ensure that church services are conducted on a daily basis during this immediate critical month.
- Furthermore there is a widespread feeling among the Sierra Leoneans that whenever a dangerous calamity strikes the nation the white people run away – even if they belong to a charity organisation. By and large this is what happened during the civil war. I do not wish to give a cowardly image to the Orthodox Church.
I am sure you understand and I know you agree with my decision and reasons to remain. Indeed I feel relieved and encouraged that strong believing Christians like yourself agree with the postponement or even perhaps complete cancellation of my return to Australia for 2014. With the help, grace and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ I will monitor the situation. When the emergency period is over here we can consider if I return for a few weeks back home. God knows when.
Given the crucial significance of our annual fundraising events in Australia for the financial survival of the Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone, my only concern is that my absence from the fund raising functions not affect the indispensable Australian assistance to our Mission. I pray and hope that our Mission’s friends turn out in full force in support of our work here. However you have my sister Mary there who is imminently arriving in Australia having recently stayed in Sierra Leone. I am positive that she will prove more than a capable replacement.
Thank you for all your help. Please send my warm regards and blessings to all our friends.
In Christ’s Royal Service