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Lona and Mary


Lona’s* mother did not care for her child, and she quickly became malnourished and ill. Lona’s grandparents sent her to live with relatives. The relatives were told Lona was an infant, so they fed her only milk. At two years old, she was malnourished and near death.

The family took Lona to the local healers. They told the family that Lona was a witch. In some cultures, people are taught that sick children are witches who put curses on their families. Often these children are left to die, and their family members believe that the child’s death will break the curse.

Johannes and Lena Ebner and their children serve in Liberia with TMS Global. They coordinate a children’s educational program, lead trainings on spiritual development, help women start their own businesses, and care for vulnerable children. The couple also teaches Discovery Bible Study (DBS) in various communities.

While leading a DBS training, Lena found Lona and saw how ill she was. Because Johannes was pastoring a church in the town, the family trusted the couple to take their child to the hospital. Lona spent six weeks in the hospital in the malnourishment ward. She improved and was sent back to her family. Unfortunately, Lona did not receive enough food again and declined quickly.

Lona’s long-term malnourishment was so severe that she was unable to walk, talk, master potty training, or even feed herself. When the Ebners saw Lona last December, she was fighting an infection, had scabies, had a low heart rate, and was placed on a feeding tube. Lona’s prognosis was grim.

Johannes and Lena contacted the child services department in their area, and the couple was granted permission to take Lona home and foster her until a guardian could be found.

“Lona came home with us during Advent,” said Lena. “Her presence made Christmas have a new meaning for us as we were reminded how Jesus came into this world as a helpless baby and became the Savior of all mankind.”

As this little girl was shown love and positive attention, she gained weight, learned to eat with a spoon, rolled over, and began to smile and laugh. She was eventually placed in a loving foster home. Lena said, “The people who serve with us call Lona ‘Miracle,’ for it truly was a miracle that she lived.”

Mary* was married with six children and struggling to make ends meet. She discovered that her husband had six children with another woman, so Mary divorced him. She married again and had two more children, and then her husband died. Left with eight children to care for, Mary was desperate for income.

Mary would buy fish at the shore and resell it in town at a higher price. Many nights her children went to bed hungry.

The Ebners helped Mary start a small business and are teaching her about basic finances. She sells second-hand clothes and metal basins. With the income, Mary is able to feed her children, and she was able to purchase small Christmas gifts for each of them last year. Lena said, “Mary’s hope is that her children would be able to attend school one day.”

“Knowing about Jesus does not change anything in your life unless you know Him as your Savior,” said Mary. She is being discipled by Johannes and Lena, and Mary has grown in her relationship with Jesus.

*Names changed

Prayer requests:

  • Pray for Lona’s health and for her new family as they care for her.
  • Pray for Mary to be able to provide for her eight children and for her relationship with Jesus to strengthen.
  • Pray for Johannes, Lena, and their children as they minister in Liberia.