Franklin Graham Believes Prayer Stopped Ebola Epidemic
By July 2014, Samaritan’s Purse International Relief had already been at work for 10 years in West Africa. They saw the Ebola epidemic coming. The Liberian people were reluctant to heed the advice about steps they needed to take to avoid getting infected with Ebola. Their culture and traditions included washing their dead and hugging each other. When the deadly virus swept through three countries, Franklin knew his organization was positioned to help. Their team on the ground stayed to fight it. “Ebola is the world’s most dangerous virus,” says Franklin. While the rest of the world looked on, medical missionaries from Samaritan’s Purse fought the disease themselves. “Our mission is to bring emergency relief to suffering people in Jesus’ name,” he says. “And that often takes us to difficult and dangerous places.”
The team in Liberia included experienced relief workers who reacted quickly to establish a treatment center and launch prevention education programs to help contain the spread of the disease. Samaritan’s Purse worked closely with Medecins Sans Frontieres, the organization that had the most experience in the world in treating Ebola. “We put all of the appropriate protocols in place to protect our staff, and we were extremely careful,” says Franklin.
Dr. Kent Brantly traveled to Liberia to serve with World Medical Mission (the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse) as a post-resident physician. He contracted the deadly virus even though he complied with all safety requirements. He was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where he made a complete recovery. Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, joined the missionary agency SIM in 2013 after 14 years of service to orphans and other vulnerable children in two countries. Nancy was a hygienist and also contracted the disease. She was also evacuated to Emorty and made a full recovery.
There was a lot done to save Dr. Brantly and Nancy but he believes it was God behind the scenes, pulling the levers, who saved them. “I believe the power of prayer played a vital role in saving their lives and stopping the epidemic,” says Franklin Graham. “So did education.” After Dr. Brantly and Nancy were evacuated, Samaritan’s Purse continued the fight against Ebola. Franklin believes God used the situation with Dr. Brantly and Nancy to bring more attention to the epidemic around the world, and an international response finally occurred. Samaritan’s Purse educated 1.5 million people on how to avoid infection. Eventually the tide turned. By May 2015, a year after the outbreak, Liberia was Ebola-free.
It would be easy for Franklin to say that they must avoid responding to this kind of situation in the future. “I believe God wants Christians to go into the world to care for those who are suffering. When people are hurting, we respond. We run toward the fire; we don’t run away from it,” he says.
The documentary, Facing Darkness, is the true story of these two American missionaries stricken with the Ebola virus and the miraculous fight to get them home. The film will be a one-night theatrical event on March 30, 2017. The film also earned Special Mention in the Award of Excellence category at the Accolade Global Film Competition. For tickets and theaters nearby, go to www.FacingDarknessMovie.com.