What an amazing opportunity I had this weekend to hear in person the testimony, through many tears, of Dr. Kent Brantley at the Prescription for Renewal Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center near Asheville, NC. He was introduced by Mr. Franklin Graham, Founder and CEO of Samaritan's Purse who himself shared of the incredible way that God saved Dr. Brantley's life by delaying the arrival of the specially equipped isolation plane that eventually brought Kent home. That delay of 19 hours, due to a problem of pressurization of the plane, allowed for the single vial of ZMAPP serum, never used before on a human, to travel by taxi, canoe, private cars, to ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia where Kent had become critically ill with a fever to 105, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, and the worse headache Kent had ever had. Kent shared with his pastor in the US that all he could think of was the story of Shadrach, Meschack, and Abednego in the fiery furnace where they were placed to be executed and how Jesus showed up and saved them.
In the audience at the Cove on Saturday evening were teammates of Kent's who had treated him in their personal protective outfits including the physician leader who took over when Kent became ill. Emails later shared with Kent from nurse teammates were that he looked horrible, fiery red from head to toe, and on the verge of dying. Repeatedly and very humbly, Kent shared about how God was so faithful and merciful to hear the cries and prayers of tens of thousands of family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ around the world to spare Kent's life.
Kent's life was spared and he has been clearly and confidently sharing with the world that God healed him from this lethal disease. I was the first person in the audience to shake Kent's hand after the main speaker, Dr. Ed Lutzer of Moody Bible Church, concluded his challenging message. I was thrilled to shake the hand of someone just as courageous as Stephen in Acts chapter 7 or the Apostle Paul or any one of the millions of martyrs who have stood for our Lord Jesus under a fiery trial, testing their faith. That opportunity was mine this weekend. The compassion and example that Kent and Nancy Writebol and others on their team displayed in Monrovia in July, not running from the growing epidemic but facing it head on, inspires me and challenges me to evaluate my own commitment to being the hands and feet of Christ, even when it is risky.
The US media has moved beyond the Brantley story to the frenzy of the first Ebola cases here in the US this month. There is much speculation over what the future will bring for this outbreak in Africa, the US, Europe, and other places. I really don't know what the future will bring in terms of this Ebola epidemic, but I do know that the world now seems very anxious about tomorrow. Even back at Tenwek Hospital, leaders are discussing appropriate measures to take just in case the disease makes its way to Kenya.
It behooves us as followers of the Great Physician to make the most of every opportunity, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the power of God's Spirit to change lives forever. God's healing power, more than the genius of the CDC or the healing power of modern medicine, is the real story being told by Dr. Kent Brantley. It is a story worth hearing and repeating. I am pretty sure that Samaritan's purse will post a link for Kent's testimony in the coming days and I'll do my best to give you all the link when it is available.
Captivated by the Courage God gives to His Children,