What if Ebola "goes to" church?

By John Okiyi Kalu on

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What if Ebola "goes to" church?

One thing that scientists have agreed on concerning Ebola is that it is definitely transmitted via contact, particularly with the fluids of infected and symptomatic person. Of course there have been suggestions of possible airborne transmission, particularly after the pig and monkey experiment, but science have not conclusively proved airborne transmission in humans. Though some observers have raised questions on exactly how properly suited (PPE) Dr Bantly of USA was infected in Liberia while saving Ebola patients. Story for another day sha.

The Nigerian response to Ebola outbreak appears to be anchored on confining and defeating the disease in Lagos without allowing it to spread to difficult to monitor parts of the country, especially the rural areas where sanitary conditions are not particularly good and there are high likelihood of rapid multiplication of infections. When you read about people dropping dead at the streets of Liberia, it is the type of thing that happens when you allow Ebola to invade poor neighbourhoods with minimal literacy. It is therefore key for all relevant institutions, individuals and groups to join the effort to peg back Ebola. Operation peg back Ebola is not a government project but rather a people's project requiring government's support.

For some reasons, it appears some people don't still understand what we are facing currently. Earlier in church today, I was surprised when our Pastor asked us to "shake at least 7 people" before sitting down. I almost screamed "Pastor are you from the moon or out of your mind". I remembered that the same pastor had mentioned Ebola in one of his earlier statements today where he declared that our God will see us survive Ebola. That means he is aware of Ebola and the danger it poses but chose to ignore basic life saving measures.

Of course I had to shake some members because not taking the outstretched hands will mean something worse that Ebola to those around me in Church. But minutes after, I rushed to a private facility at the church to wash my hands with "morning fresh" and return to the church to hear the rest of the message titled "School of truth". When the same Pastor announced his "last anointing service" for later today, I realized that ignorance is truly bliss but deadly.
My only consolation was the knowledge that the Pastor has been transferred to another part of the country to continue his ministerial work. Hopefully the brethren there will educate him on dos and donts in the church during Ebola and other infectious diseases outbreak. Otherwise the next time he sings "hold somebody tell him that you love him.." members will leave church for him and his family. There should be time for everything, including shaking and hugging in church. Unless the church is ready to introduce a special Ebola hug and Ebola brotherly handshake that can be executed without physical contact between members..

Thank God for the Catholic Church that recognized the likely danger of "Ebola in the church" and banned handshakes and even reviewed how sacred traditions like holy communion will be conducted until Ebola is defeated. It beats me why other churches, especially the Pentecostals are sleep walking at a time of looming epidemic that will impact the church more than others. Pentecostals believe in faith healing and naturally any member with Ebola will show up in Church and possibly the pastor's office for "laying of hands", anointing, deliverance  and healing services. In all that, contact is GUARANTEED. Sweat (body fluid) will be "shared" (apologies to Madam P) after the usually intense "binding and casting" prayers. The likelihood is that the Pastor and ushers that will hold the man falling under anointing will be infected. And when they are infected, their family members will surely be infected alongside  their secret and known medical support team.

Bearing in mind the disproportionately high risks to themselves, why are Pastors not making necessary worship changes to stop this disease that I personally call "ama nna gi chi kwe disease"? Not even HIV:AIDS have the type of capacity Ebola retains to wipe off a whole family, one after the other. If a man or woman is down with fever or diarrhoea, the first people he will have contact with are family members who will innocently attend to the patient, bathe, clean up and dress up the person before taking him to the hospital or church. From that point, the medical staff start receiving their own "anointing" of infections because Ebola symptoms are not different from Malaria Fever symptoms and they wouldn't have bothered to protect themselves. A nurse will still have to take the patients "vitals" and pass the patient to the doctor. And the cycle of infection continues all the way to mortuary attendants.

To underscore the risk the pastor exposed me and others to, let me share a personal story. For about 10 days I have been having severe discomfort and pains at the waist, especially after sitting for some time. Last Sunday I barely managed to make it to church but most people who saw me knew I was in some sort of severe pains. If I had experienced any sort of fever or diarrhoea I would have turned myself in to a quarantine facility because the coincidence of the Ebola outbreak and my first ever severe waist pain was scary enough to me. It was also easy for my mind to wonder and review all the contacts I have had in the past 3 weeks just to reassure myself that "nothing mega". 
Never mind that a scientist I know tried to establish that Ebola may have been "modified, weaponized and given capacity to spread through electromagnetic waves". If that theory is correct it simply means that because I have discussed with at least 3 Ebola patients on phone in the past 20 days I may have been exposed via electromagnetic ihe di egwu.

Satan is a liar.

Forget the usual conspiracies and blame games and just imagine for a moment how many people would have been infected by Ebola if I was Ebola positive. Remember I attended service for the two Sundays and this sunday was instructed to shake hands with 7 members. Uwa agwula nu!

Yesterday a friend whose late mother is to be buried this weekend called me to ask if it is true that our hometown, Abiriba Kingdom, have changed burial rules. I asked him to give me moments to inquire from those who will surely know. Simply put, the leaders of Abiriba Kingdom have taken measures to prevent Ebola from spreading to the community. All corpses must be buried same day as they arrive Abiriba and the casket must be sealed and not opened at any point in time during the burial ceremony. Those who die at Abiriba must be buried same day or moved out of Abiriba immediately to whichever mortuary you wish.

Only my readers from Abiriba will understand how massive that decision is for our strongly culturally inclined people. Yet my friend and I applauded our leaders, especially our ultra modern king, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu (Enachioken of Abiriba), for being in tune with current affairs and not shying away from taking an otherwise tough decision to protect our people and visitors alike. That's the stuff great leaders are made of-forward looking, and able to make tough choices. Of course the burial plan already issued for my friend's mother must now been altered drastically. At Abiriba  we bring in our dead on Friday, lie them in state all night for people to file past and pay last respect. Then the next morning the corpse is brought outside for further viewing and religious/cultural ceremonies. With this new rule, as soon as you arrive Abiriba with the corpse you are expected to bury it, cover the grave and then continue any other thing you want to do. Go ahead with your wake keeping, but no open or even boxed corpse is to be seen anywhere near the venue.

Don't ask about enforcement, because we know it will be enforced.
Incidentally it is the duty of my age grade to enforce and you can bet I won't shirk my responsibility. After all if not for civilization and Jesus by now I should be at the war front cutting off human heads as proof of manliness and to protect my homeland. Those before me didn't disappoint Abiriba Kingdom and it is not in my turn that Ebola will carry his wahala to come and kill the same people I am supposed to be at the war front fighting to protect from enemy invaders.

I strongly encourage communities, churches, companies etc to take measures to halt and defeat Ebola. If we do the right things, Nigeria will be declared "Ebola Free" by this time next year. But if we fail at individual and collective levels, by this time next year we will be looking for volunteers to dig mass graves and bury people.

Chukwu ekwela!

Happy sunday joor.
Did your own pastor tell you about John 14:6, Proverb 14:5 and 2Cor 13:8?
Permit me to share only one of them while you read up the rest, if your pastor didn't tell you.

Proverb 14:5
An honest witness does not deceive,
but a false witness pours out lies.

Whatever situation that compels you to lie is bigger than you and all you need do is shut up and hand that situation over to God.

May you really be blessed this week.

JOK 24/8/14


Posted on August, 25 2014

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