It is with our deepest sorrow that we tell you that Jeremiah Cooley died of Ebola.
Jeremiah worked for CRF helping orphans in Croezerville, Liberia. A week after his death his wife also died leaving four children as orphans.
Now MacAnthony Siaker, our CRF director, has to make a choice. Do you take in the four new orphans from Ebola to the orphanage or not? If you don’t, they will be isolated and probably starve to death. If you do, you risk the deaths of the other orphans that you are taking care of. But it’s not just Jeremiah’s orphans. Others are coming and seeking refuge. No one should have to make this choice. There are no rules. There are no guidelines. It is very difficult to even define what is the most compassionate thing to do. So MacAnthony simply has to use his best judgment in every choice and trust God.
Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity examines several critical factors that helped Christianity move from an obscure religious movement to the dominant world religion in just a few centuries. What makes the book so interesting is that he is not writing it to promote Christianity or to change the habits of churches in regard to their evangelistic styles. No, he is a professor of sociology at the University of Washington and merely gives an academic critique.
Several of the points Stark makes are the same ones that you would expect and commonly hear by church leaders concerning the rapid growth rate of the early church. But Starks camps out on one particular distinctive of primitive Christianity that truly needs to be explored.
He concludes that one of the primary reasons that Christianity grew so quickly was because of the way they responded to epidemics.
There were frequent epidemics in the first few centuries. Usually these vast disasters occurred in the cities. When the epidemics happened, people started fleeing the cities. But while everybody was running away trying to avoid the plagues, Christians stayed and ministered to the sick and dying.
This caused two things to happen. First of all, the compassion of Christianity was vividly revealed and juxtaposed to the lack of love in the secular city and other religions. Secondly, the survivors of the epidemics were indebted to the Christians and adopted their belief system.
Perhaps there is no greater opportunity for the expansion of Christianity than a response to the Ebola crisis in Africa. But even if our intervention promoted no growth, isn’t such a compassionate response at the very heart of the nature of Jesus?
At this point, none of our hundreds of CRF children have died of Ebola. However, some of their parents have died. And now orphans of the disease are being cared for by CRF. We can truly use your donations and assistance in this crisis.
Our Liberian CRF workers are not fleeing, but they are making the hardest choices imaginable. It is like they are deciding who lives and who dies. No one should have to make these choices.
But they have no choice. - Milton Jones