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CHRISTIAN NEWS 

As ministries report record interest in serving, Samaritan's Purse shifts strategy on what expat doctors do.

After contracting the world’s most deadly virus while serving as medical missionaries in Liberia, both Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse and Nancy Writebol of SIM became household names—as did Ebola itself.

They survived. As did Rick Sacra, an SIM missionary doctor from Massachusetts also serving in Liberia. But this week, Martin Salia, a Maryland surgeon serving in a United Methodist hospital in his native Sierra Leone, did not.

He joined the World Health Organization’s tally of 329 health care workers (out of 584 infected) who have died from Ebola so far. The disease has now killed more than 5,400 people out of 15,000-plus reported cases—mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Brantly, Sacra, and Salia were all affiliated with the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), which reports a surge in interest in medical missions. But will we see another Brantly? Christian ministries are no longer letting American physicians get so close to Ebola patients.

Brantly was one of about 900 doctors that Samaritan’s Purse sends to Africa each year to work in missionary hospitals. In Liberia, the Christian relief organization had its expatriate staff switch their focus to Ebola in June, but soon pulled about 60 people back to the US after Brantly and Writebol contracted the virus in July.

Samaritan’s Purse returned American workers to Liberia in September. But their focus is now not on Ebola patients themselves, but on managing the health of nearly 400 Liberian staff running 15 community care centers on the front lines.

“After Dr. Brantly got Ebola, we just thought there’s got to be a better way of doing this,” said Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s ...

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Robert Sirico says that in order to get economics right, we must first understand what it means to be human.

Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest and co-founder of the Acton Institute, is perhaps one of the most economically literate clergymen you will find among America’s public intellectuals. While most seminaries do not train future pastors and lay leaders to think theologically about economics, Sirico says understanding questions about economics is necessary if Christian leaders want to rightly seek the good of society and train others to do the same. Joseph Gorra, founder and director of Veritas Life Center, talked Sirico about economic life and human flourishing.

At this year's Acton University conference, you spoke on how love is an indispensable basis for economic life. To some, that might seem odd if economic life is viewed as the maximization of utility and material well-being.

We can’t enter the marketplace as something other than what we really are, and real human love demonstrates the impossibility of being merely homo economicus (“the economic man”), which is essentially a thesis that reduces human beings to their materiality.

Humans are simultaneously material and transcendent, individual and social. We are not merely individual entities, though we are uniquely and unrepeatably that, even from the first moment of our conception. Yet the whole of our lives we are social and individual, material and spiritual. If we ignore this existential reality, then we fail to understand what it means to be human.

Love—authentic human love—helps us understand this anthropological reality. Even conjugal love offers more than physicality. In this act of love, we offer our whole selves, including our ideals, dreams, and indeed our future to one another—none of which exists in material ...

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Churches join effort to care for vulnerable children who have lost one or both parents in West Africa.

“My mama is dead in my house and we don’t know what to do.” In Sierra Leone, an 8-year-old boy called the national hotline by dialing 1-1-7 earlier this month. The father had already died, presumably from Ebola, and this boy was now head of the household with five younger siblings. He had decided to call for a burial team to pick up his mother’s remains.

In West Africa, the death of parents from the Ebola epidemic has caused a surge in orphans. They are mostly young children age 5 and under. Government officials estimate 25,900 or more of them are in urgent need of comprehensive care in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. A very high percentage of these children have lost both parents to the virus. Many of the children are under quarantine. Fearful relatives are shunning or abandoning them as possible carriers of the virus.

But there is something worse for these orphans than abandonment: becoming infected with Ebola. “What I'm seeing on the ground is quite disturbing,” said Susan Hillis, a senior staff adviser in global health with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during an interview from Freetown, Sierra Leone. “Children under 5 in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, where I've been working, very commonly get into the ambulance with mom.”

She said typically an ambulance takes mothers to Ebola centers for admission. But there's no one to take the children. “By that point, everybody knows the mother probably has Ebola, and they are afraid of the children, who could transmit the infection to whoever is going to take care of them."

Until the Ebola outbreak, families often were willing to provide informal foster care. Hillis said, ...

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