Tablet Local

Liberian church members hit hard by Ebola crisis

As news of family in Liberia trickles in, Dello Davis waits and worries.

Ebola has killed two of her cousins. Many other relatives, including a grandbaby, were quarantined. On Sunday, Davis turned to the place that gives her most solace — New Life Fellowship Church in Euless.

“I trust in God, and I know we will be healed,” said Davis, who lives in Arlington. “I praise God for his goodness and his mercy.”

Less than a week after Ebola was diagnosed in a Liberian man visiting Dallas, about 150 members of the suburban church gathered Sunday morning to pray for eradication of the disease and for healing. Congregants wept and sang and shared stories of family members stricken with the disease.

North Texas is home to about 10,000 Liberians, and the close-knit community has been hit hard by the Ebola crisis, said the church’s bishop, Nathan Kortu Jr. The church will provide free grief counseling to those who have lost relatives or been affected by the disease.

There are many.

Member Keabeh Goyah of Euless asked for the congregation to pray for her son, a doctor in West Africa.

Another church member said she lost a daughter to Ebola. A different woman just learned that her family escaped infection despite being exposed to a dying Ebola patient.

Kortu has his own story: His younger sister in Liberia was exposed to an Ebola victim and must wait 21 days to see whether symptoms develop.

When the virus was diagnosed in Dallas this week, members said they felt a great heaviness. The victim, Thomas Eric Duncan, has slipped from serious to critical condition in the past two days.

“I am just so sad,” Davis said. “I pray that everybody in Dallas, everybody in Liberia, continues to have faith.”

Kortu urged church members to turn to their faith during these trying times. He said he is frequently asked how Ebola has affected the local Liberian community.

“We are all confused,” he answers. “We are all trusting God. … God will heal our land. God will heal us. Only God will answer our prayers.”

Kortu also stressed that Ebola is not a Liberian disease; it is an epidemic that threatens the world.

“Earthquakes. Natural disasters. Diseases,” he said. “It does not mean that God is mad at one country. Let us stop the judgment.”

Praying for Dallas and Liberia, Joseph Nyumah, one of the church’s ministers, said courage must replace fear.

“Liberia will rise again. The folks in Dallas, Texas, will rise again,” Nyumah said. “There is power in prayer.”