Liberia (MNN) — It’s now being called a “public health emergency of international concern.” We’re talking about Ebola. While you may not think it’ll affect you, the World Health Organization (WHO) made that statement to wake you up to the problem.
Two U.S. citizens, medical missionaries with SIM International Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, have been brought to United States for treatment.
WHO says Ebola took an additional 29 lives between Tuesday and Wednesday alone. Their report indicates Ebola has killed 961 people and sickened 1,779 others. This makes it the worst outbreak in history.
In a statement release by Dr. Brantly, he said, “I am writing this update from my isolation room at Emory University Hospital, where the doctors and nurses are providing the very best care possible. I am growing stronger every day, and I thank God for His mercy as I have wrestled with this terrible disease.”
He added, “We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital. One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror firsthand, and I can still remember every face and name.”
When Brantly started feeling ill, he isolated himself and remembered feeling a sense of peace. “Now it is two weeks later, and I am in a totally different setting. My focus, however, remains the same: to follow God. As you continue to pray for Nancy and me–yes, please pray for our recovery. More importantly, pray that we would be faithful to God’s call on our lives in these new circumstances.”
SIM International has been in the middle of the outbreak as Dr. Brantly and nurse Writebol contracted the disease working in their ELWA Hospital in Liberia. Speaking with MNN, SIM President Bruce Johnson says, “The hospital was closed briefly, but now it’s reopened. The people of Liberia continue to struggle, but we need to continue finding ways to help them.”
Since these Americans have contracted the disease, Johnson says doctors have responded by volunteering to go to Liberia to serve. “It’s that kind of sacrificial spirit that’s been such an encouragement to me, and I think really has been an encouragement to the whole church to see the sacrifice and willingness of our brothers and sisters to do that.”
Johnson says he could never have imagined being in the middle of this international media firestorm. SIM has been on many major television and radio networks. “We feel God is saying, ‘Express My glory through this,’ both in testimony as well as to help the U.S. government and other governments.”
Mission Network News was able to help SIM produce an interview with David Writebol, Nancy’s husband still in Liberia. “Greg helped us in that effort,” says Johnson. “As a result, we posted that on our SIMusa.org Web site. The media picked it up.” That interview featuring David’s testimony was featured for the world to hear on NBC Nightly News and the Today Show.
In the interview, David said, “It is a singular experience to look upon a loved one, especially one where we have spent 40 years together…. We were junior high sweethearts….. To see her on the brink of death and knowing there was nothing I could do to prevent that.”
David added, “We felt so strongly supported by our home church….. [Some have said:] ‘How could they (the Writebols) be foolish to put themselves in danger’…. And yet, it is that very calling and very sending and very going that demonstrates the characteristics of the great things Christ has done for humanity. If our Lord has done that, then we willingly and gladly will do that so others might hear about Christ.”
One of Johnson’s non-Christian friends told Johnson he was praying for SIM workers. Johnson says, “If this one person is expressing this, my sense is this is God saying, ‘I’m going to use this for My glory, and I’m going to bring people to saving faith. Just keep going, keep going, keep going.”
While Ebola continues to provide uncertainty, Johnson says they’re taking precautions. “We have returned 8 people who were in areas that were non-emergency personnel. We still have 40 to 50 Liberian staff and then four U.S. staff [still in Liberia].”
In the meantime, Johnson says God is using this as a call to action. “There might be medical personnel, mechanics, teachers, radio broadcasters, church planters who say, ‘I sense God is calling me.'”
If that’s you, click here to contact SIM USA.