This was the start of a Christmas message from former rock-star-turned-missionary, Father Themi Adams, who was once a member of The Flies, that once shared the stage with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and now runs The Holy Orthodox Mission in Freetown, the capital city of the troubled West African nation, that has been hit by the deadly Ebola virus.
Father Themi says, "We will be under a semi-lock-down mode for the Festive Season. No restaurants, no sporting events, no public celebrations, no wedding receptions, no street celebrations, all shops must close on weekdays by 6.00 PM, by noon of Saturdays and no trading on Sundays.
"Indeed the army will be out in force to enforce this. Violators will face the full weight of the law. Why? Are we facing some sort of anti-Christian campaign? No! Then why these draconian measures during the Holy Season? The simple yet tragic answer is that this nation is at war again.
The rock star
"Just as ten times in the last twenty years this nation is at war again through Christmas and New Year; But this time there are no AK 47s or bullets killing innocent people; This time there are no rebel forces invading cities, towns and villages and amputating arms and legs.
"This time the enemy asks no questions, takes no prisoners and is totally indiscriminate in its killing spree. This time the enemy is silent, invisible and even deadlier. This time there can be no truce or treaties, it's a zero-sum situation. This time the enemy is a virus—a vicious and deadly hemorrhagic fever virus called Ebola!"
The courageous priest, who refuses to leave his post, but prefers to risk his own life helping his flock, went on to say, "For this reason, and by Government decree, all Christmas and New Year celebrations have been cancelled in order to avoid the gathering of a crowd of people in enclosed spaces and thus limiting the risk of body contact—the essential source of Ebola contamination.
"When I first heard this new decree my initial instinctive reaction was negative. But then I reconsidered the situation from a purely spiritual perspective. What is the true meaning of Christmas? Is it about street dancing? Is it about wild parties? Is it about getting drunk? Is it about carousing all night? Or as the habit here, a street parade by the native "Devil people?" Perhaps these rigorous measures may be an unintended blessing in disguise.
"By removing all the unnecessary commercial and non-spiritual layers from this Christmas and New Year in Sierra Leone, we may finally have a purer celebration of the Nativity of Christ in a sober and sensible manner where the opportunity to focus and reflect upon the essential meaning of the Bethlehem Event.
"Those of you who are reading this in other countries please consider not to get caught up in the commercialization, trivialization, degradation and secularization of Christmas which aims to displace the Holy Child of Bethlehem from center stage by Father Christmas, reindeers, fir trees accompanied by drunkenness, eating marathons and improper behavior." (Photo via ANS)
He added, "In a world of increasing uncertainty, declining moral standards and selfishness let us cling to the eternal and unchanging truths, let us try to keep this Christmas Holy! Like the Wise Men let us worship Christ! Let us also help the less fortunate! In other words let us bring back the authentic expression of Christmas."
Funds are desperately needed by the Holy Orthodox Mission to purchase food and non-prescription medical supplies (gloves, face masks, chlorine disinfectants, etc.). Anyone wishing to assist Father Themi and the Holy Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone should go to Paradise4kids.com and donate. Every dollar raised helps Father Themi take practical steps to protect people, particularly the less fortunate, from the Ebola threat in Sierra Leone.