As fear of Ebola rises, Holston mission leaders are stressing that during this current outbreak, no cases of the virus have been reported in East Africa, where South Sudan is located.
However, Holston leaders are proactively working to protect teams traveling to South Sudan – as well as missionaries living there -- from the virus that has caused more than 4,500 deaths across the continent in West Africa.
“We are being vigilant and taking protective measures,” said the Rev. Stella Roberts, director of connectional ministries.
Three Holston physicians are currently preparing safety protocols and training for a Holston team departing for South Sudan on Nov. 6, said the Rev. Mike Sluder, Holston missions coordinator. Sluder is leading the Knoxville District team, along with the Rev. Nathan Malone, district superintendent.
Mission leaders are also communicating frequently with missionaries “on the ground” in Yei, South Sudan, to monitor local information and provide medical equipment for possible emergencies, Sluder said.
Since 2005, Holston has partnered with United Methodist churches in South Sudan to support education, clean water, agriculture, health and other needs. From Holston Conference, the Rev. Fred Dearing and Libby Dearing are serving in Yei, South Sudan, along with physicians Lynn Fogleman and Sharon Fogleman, originally from Red Bird Missionary Conference.
“We are OK here,” Fred Dearing said during an Oct. 13 conference call. “If something does happen, we will be prepared. Our biggest concern right now is that people will panic.”
“We will be careful, but we feel safe,” Libby Dearing said.
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Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.