MPB: Ebola Claims First FPC Victim as Missionaries Assess Return Date

Missionary Prayer Bulletin Report (October, 2014) David DiCanio and Joanne Greer, missionaries in Liberia under the Free Presbyterian Church of North America, were evacuated from the country on August 5, 2014 because of the deadly Ebola virus sweeping West Africa. 

OCTOBER 15, 2014

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Both David DiCanio and Joanne Greer, Liberian missionaries, spent 21-days in a self imposed quarantine before beginning their speaking tour around the FPCNA churches. Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, and is not contagious until symptoms are visible.

MONROVIA—Both David DiCanio and Joanne Greer have been out of Liberia since August 5, because of the Ebola virus.

Mr. DiCanio spent 21 days in a self-imposed quarantine in New Jersey and then began travelling to the churches in North America. He has already visited South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and the churches in British Columbia. He also attended the Ministers’ Week of Prayer in Vancouver, and is soon to head to Toronto, Fredericton, Barrie, Alabama, and Arizona. He then plans to take a two-month trip to Jamaica before going to Northern Ireland to speak during February, March, and early April.

Mr. DiCanio gave a detailed interview for the fall edition of the Current entitled “Ebola Forces FPC Missionaries from Liberia.” The article details the circumstances surrounding his and Joanne’s evacuation.

Mr. DiCanio also wrote a press release for a Greenville newspaper reporting that the virus had just struck one of the Liberian mission churches in early October:

“Several people in one of the missionaries’ congregations were quarantined after a member died from the Ebola virus at the local government hospital where she worked as a midwife. Church members suspect she came into contact with the virus while delivering the baby of an Ebola patient. When the pregnant woman and several of her family members died, the church members became concerned when they saw their fellow parishioner become ill. Within the week she too was dead, but not before the members, with their pastor, visited her at her home. This visit has the missionaries concerned that others may also become infected.”

Both missionaries request prayer for this family and the others who are in need of some help with food during this difficult time. Mr. DiCanio reported in the press release that both he and Joanne have been keeping daily contact with the Liberian workers and pastors through Skype:

“Our biggest concerns are the food and medical needs. … There is a lot of confusion because more common illnesses like malaria and typhoid mimic the Ebola symptoms, and many hospitals have closed out of fear, putting people at greater risk. … The FPCNA has set up a charity fund to help with both medical and food needs. The instability in Liberia has forced the missionaries to send church members to a more reliable but higher priced American clinic outside Monrovia.”

Joanne has been in touch with friends from a missionary group who have just returned to Liberia. Their report gives a close up of the difficulties they are facing:

We are not to touch anything that is at all avoidable when we go anywhere, and if we know there is Ebola in the area we are not to touch anything at all, and we are to take all water and food along that we need, if we plan to be gone for any length of time.”

The missionary also reported that some flights are returning to Liberia, but that only 70 of the 300 seats were taken on their flight:

“Our flight from Brussels to Liberia had a rather interesting assortment of people on it. There were quite a few military men. They weren’t in uniform but we happened to sit across the aisle from one and after talking with him realized that there were lots of men with buzz cuts traveling alone. There also seemed to be different medical teams, one girl had a Samaritan’s Purse t-shirt and appeared to be traveling with her father. There was another team with about half a dozen people who were busy discussing Ebola in the airport, so we knew what the purpose of their trip was, but didn’t find out which organization they were with.”

The FPC mission board is continuing to monitor the situation in Liberia, but has not determined a date of return for the missionaries. Some World Health Organization reports are talking about twelve months before things return to normal. Others are saying that the virus may be around much longer. [Note: Mr. DiCanio’s press release will soon be posted at www.fpcnamission.org.]