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Churches urged to take on chik-V, Ebola fight

Published:Thursday | November 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator

Church leaders are urging the entire church community to join the chikungunya and Ebola fight and public education campaign, stating that the health of the nation must be a collective responsibility.

    “The church must not just be concerned about a person’s spiritual wellbeing, it must be concerned about their emotional and physical health as well,” Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, told The Gleaner.

“Whatever affects the wider community, we as a church cannot detach ourselves from it, so the church has an obligation to educate people about the diseases and what they can do in their individual homes and communities to stem the outbreak. It is everyone’s responsibility to clean up the environment, and to cooperate with the government in its national efforts.”

Yesterday, Brown’s organization was one of seven under the Jamaica Umbrella Groups of Churches (JUGC) that called upon the church community to become more involved in the response to the chikungunya virus outbreak and the threat of Ebola.

It also called for two days of special prayer regarding both health concerns, as well as for the entire Christian community to join the clean-up campaign, and where it is non-existent, to lead the charge.

In a media statement, JUGC asked that November 8 and 9 be set aside “to offer special prayers for those affected by chik-V; individuals, institutions and corporate entities, as well as, our medical staff, and the Ministry of Health officials who are on the frontline, responding with limited resources and under stressful circumstances.”

JUGC also called upon the Christian community to avail itself of the relevant information from the Ministry of Health and to conduct awareness-building sessions within the life of their congregations.

“Knowledge and a trustful faith in the Almighty God will go a far way in reducing anxiety and in helping us in making the appropriate responses,” the statement said.

Additionally, it continued, environmental factors and hygiene are major contributors to the problem of the spread of chik-V. “We need to develop a culture of good stewardship of the environment, which is a resource we have received from God. Therefore, we appeal to the church and wider community to make the care of the environment a fulltime commitment,” JUGC stated.

“The purpose of the church is to enlighten persons, and not just on spiritual matters. We have a responsibility to cater to the whole man, not just his soul. Civil matters as well as the health of the nation must be a critical concern of the church,” stated Pastor Charles Francis of Faith United Church of God International.

Noting that his church had long included health seminars as part of messages to its flock and the Mandela Terrace community it serves in St. Andrew, Francis said of late they have been giving regular talks about chik-v and Ebola.
“Chik-V and Ebola are of grave concern to everyone and we should tackle it collectively. Every sector of society need to play an active role in this important matter,” he said.

Francis added, “It is also important that we realize that we can achieve nothing without prayer. As a nation, we need to engage the power and might of God to address the issues that we face, whether spiritual, physical or emotional.”

Brown also emphasized on the importance of prayer, stating that, “prayer is very, very important to both the social and spiritual development of individuals, and we believe in the divine intervention of God to address issues that affect people.”
Brown said his church had already begun the chik-v and Ebola education and information campaign, both during services and in speaking to members of the community.

For close to a year, Jamaica has been grappling with an outbreak of the chikungunya virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The country is also on high alert with the threat of the deadly Ebola virus that has been declared the worst global health emergencies in modern times.