More than 3,000 people, primarily in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are believed to have died from the often-fatal virus, which is showing little sign of abating, according to the World Health Organization.
“I am urgently imploring all Seventh-day Adventists around this globe to make Sabbath, Oct. 11, 2014, a special day of prayer for our brothers and sisters in West Africa and for the entire population in that region as they face this virtually unprecedented tragedy,” said Wilson, president of the church's highest governing body, the General Conference. “Let us pray that God will put a halt to the spread of this virulent virus.”
Wilson noted that the WHO figures and a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that warn that Ebola cases could soar to 550,000 or even as high as 1.4 million by January.
“We are devastated by the potential of this outbreak to destroy lives,” Wilson said in a statement.
The Ebola virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads among the human population by contact with infected fluids, the WHO says. There is no known vaccine or cure.
Adventists medical and relief workers stepped up efforts to assist the affected countries this month. ADRA, the Adventist relief agency, started shipping more than $160,000 in medical supplies together with four Adventist partner organizations, GlobalMedic, Loma Linda University, Adventist Health International and Adventist Health Ministries. The shipments include $92,000 in supplies to Cooper Adventist Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, and $50,000 in supplies to Waterloo Adventist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Last week, ADRA led a special prayer service for West Africa in the main auditorium of the General Conference building in Silver Spring, Maryland. People around the world joined via Google Hangout.
On Oct. 1, the General Conference Ministerial Association will initiate a global prayer campaign that church members can support by using the hashtag #UnitedinPrayer on social media.
The Adventist Church has 33,000 members in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
James Golay, president of the church’s West African Union, which comprises the three countries, has decided to stay at home in Monrovia to support local church members rather than join other church leaders at the General Conference headquarters for the church’s yearly business meeting, the Annual Council, in October. He will participate in the meeting online and give a first-hand report about the outbreak on Oct. 11, Wilson said.