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Keeping Faith: Missionary 'Refused' to Flee Liberia

09-08-2014
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Nancy Writebol, the second American missionary to contract Ebola while working in Liberia, is back in the United States and receiving treatment in Atlanta.

The 59-year-old nurse arrived at Emory Hospital on Tuesday, and early reports indicate she's showing improvement after receiving the experimental medication ZMapp.

Her colleague, Dr. Kent Brantly, is also said to be getting better with the help of the drug.

CBN News traveled to Writebol's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to learn more about why she went to Liberia and how her illness is affecting those closest to her.

Call to Missions

Writebol and her husband, David, are no newcomers to the mission field. They've worked around the world and, as of last year, with the missions organization SIM in Liberia.

The war-torn country has few amenities and is known as a difficult mission post.

"Dave and Nancy Writebol are two of the most humble people that I have ever met. Their concern is sharing the Gospel to the world," Jim Cashwell, the Writebols' pastor, said.

Cashwell said the Writebols recently felt called to use their gifts in administration and encouragement to help build up one Liberian hospital. It's desperately needed in a country where disease is common and doctors are few.

"In Liberia there are 50 doctors for 4 million people. They don't have the infrastructure because of the wars, the devastation of the country," SIM President Bruce Johnson told CBN News.

Writebol and her husband first felt the call to the mission field at a mission's conference at their home church in Charlotte more than 20 years ago. 

This spring, when Ebola began breaking out in Africa, the church asked them if they wanted to come home. Writebol and her husband said no.

"We said, 'David and Nancy, let us bring you home. Let's wait until it's safer to return,' and David and Nancy refused to come back because their statement was they wanted to be where God had called them because this would be a unique opportunity to serve and share the Gospel," Cashwell recalled.

Living Testimony

Not only did they stay, Writebole went to work on the frontlines, helping to disinfect doctors and instruments used in the crisis.

"You know what Nancy is doing when she's cleaning the instruments at the hospital? She's showing the love of Christ in a very practical way," Cashwell said.

Johnson said the hope now is that Writebol and Brantly will recover and that research around their treatment at Emory Hospital will ultimately lead to a cure.

"Kent and Nancy are the kind of people who would say 'I'm willing to do this, to sacrifice, in order that many more will be saved,'" Johnson said.

As the world watches this literal life-and-death battle unfold, back in Charlotte Writebol's church is also watching -- and learning.

"The faith of David and Nancy shows a maturity that is teaching all of us," Cashwell said. "They know that God can move in at any time and heal Nancy."

"But they also recognize that if God chooses to call her home, that He's going to bring a healing there as well," he added. "And that's the healing that we all hope for."

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