Facing Darkness: Fighting Ebola in Liberia Part 2/2

Recently, I viewed the movie Facing Darkness produced by Samaritan’s purse highlighting their response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. I highly recommend seeing this movie. It is having an encore event in limited theaters on April 10th, 2017. Click this link for showings near you.

You can view Part I here that takes a medical view on how Ebola spread so easily and quickly through Liberia.

This post, I’ll be discussing some of the spiritual aspects of the movie. As a Christian myself, it was hard not to be amazed at some of the incidents (or miracles) that I’ll talk about here.

Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization run by Franklin Graham, the eldest son of famed evangelist Billy Graham. Samaritan’s Purse had a presence in Liberia before the Ebola outbreak. The American physician, Kent Brantly, was serving there as a missionary with his family at the onset of the outbreak.

When Ebola hit the region, there were only two organizations that responded despite the Liberian government’s cry for help. They were Samaritan’s Purse and Doctors Without Borders. Since Samaritan’s Purse already had a presence in Liberia, they were asked by DWB to respond to the Ebola crisis.

They agreed but had no training to do so, but they did begin to respond by caring for the sick and dying.

Dr. Kent Brantly eventually headed up the Ebola response in Liberia. He and nurse, Nancy Writebol, worked closely together. Nancy was mainly in charge of getting medical personnel in their protective gear before entering the hospital. To this day, it is not exactly clear how Kent or Nancy were infected with Ebola.

Many Christians believe there is a battle in the spiritual realm between good and evil. That these forces are at play on earth even if we don’t physically perceive them. When the movie Facing Darkness opens, they comment on a feeling of oppression in the area. “The sea had never seemed so angry.” There was an unrelenting rain that few had seen in many years. The country was still shrouded in the darkness of two civil wars.

I believe there are miracles still happening today. These are some of the things I consider miracles from Facing Darkness. There are spoilers here so stop reading if you plan on seeing the movie.

1. Kent Brantly contracted Ebola within days of his wife and children leaving Liberia for a wedding in Texas. This event likely saved them from contracting the disease.

2. ZMapp was used for the first time in humans— and it worked. ZMapp is a drug that is used specifically to treat Ebola. Up until that point, it had never been used in humans, only in monkeys.

3. Dr. Brantly was going to be life-flighted out of Liberia, but the plane broke down and had to return to the US. This event likely saved his life. At the time the flight started, Kent was feeling pretty well and deferred the first dose of ZMapp to nurse Writebol. However, as she was literally warming up the medication under her arm for administration, Kent’s health took a dramatic turn for the worse and they took the drug away from Writebol to administer to Brantly. If he’d been on that flight, he likely would have died.

4. Brantly’s survival and testimony as to what was happening in Liberia finally garnered some international support that enabled Samaritan’s purse to turn the tide via education to combat the spread of Ebola. The movie is pretty clear on how little the world provided aid during the Ebola crisis. Doctors Without Borders and Samaritan’s Purse were the only two organizations combating the disease and they were drowning. Their personnel were way overextended and they didn’t have the supplies they needed. Only the media attention after Brantly’s US return pushed the issue where finally financial support and supplies were offered.

Sometimes, it’s hard to understand God’s view when you’re in the middle of a crisis. Brantly’s infection was one of the worst things that happened in his life, but it also ended up saving a country.

Many people featured in the film continue to serve the people of Liberia.

So many lessons in this one film— medically and spiritually. Please, go see it.

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