LEWISVILLE In recent weeks, we've seen the images from the West Africa nation of Sierra Leone, where doctors are suited up for safety and hospitals are struggling in the wake of the worst-ever Ebola virus outbreak.

It may feel like a world away to you, but not to David Williams.

'Ebola has devastated the eastern part of the country,' he said.

Williams is watching as his native land is swept up by the virus from his current home in Lewisville. He has friends who have lost entire families, and he is hearing that many people in Sierra Leone only took the threat seriously after it was already too late.

'This disease speaks volumes about the education system and the information that is necessary to reach people,' Williams said.

That concern is shared within his church. First United Methodist Church of Lewisville has done mission work in Sierra Leone since 1998.

'Oh, it's agonizing,' said Karen DeSmit, who chairs the church program. 'I've been watching this so closely and thinking it's awful... and what can we do?'

The answer is, unfortunately, not much.

The church group had been scheduled to travel back to the region, but their bishop on the ground in Sierra Leone called to cancel it six weeks ago.

'This was before it got as bad as it is now, and he said, 'I'm just putting them all on hold. Don't come right now.' He just doesn't want to put people coming there for missions at risk,' DeSmit said.

Instead, church members are working on gathering supplies and money, and will send whatever their partner church needs most for however long this virus ravages that country.


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