More than 250 people gathered at Abilene’s Southern Hills Church of Christ last night for a prayer service on behalf of Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03), Nancy Writebol and others suffering with the Ebola virus. Both work for Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia; Brantly is a physician serving a two-year fellowship and Writebol is a nursing coordinator.
“Over the past few days, we have all thought many things and felt every possible feeling. Some of us have re-examined our lives and asked ourselves whether what we were doing mattered,” said featured speaker Dr. Mark Hamilton (M.A. ’89), professor of Old Testament. “We have wondered whether our compassion extends more to fellow Americans than to fellow human beings. Some of us have tried to become more aware of the suffering of other people, especially those who live in deep poverty. And some of us have simply prayed for all who give their lives to bring healing of mind, body and spirit to others.
“This evening, however, we have come together not to work out all those issues, but simply to cry out to God for help,” Hamilton continued. “We cry out in prayer because we are answering a call from God to us, a cry that Jesus uttered long ago when he showed us what it looked like to touch the leper and heal the blind, for the Gospel is God’s promise of healing and wellness to all. So let us come together to pray as men and women who seek God’s help in a time of need.”
Dr. Gary Green, director of Abilene Christian University’s WorldWide Witness program in the Halbert Institute for Missions, read this new message from longtime Southern Hills members Donnie (’77) and Lisa (Spann ’79) Carroll, the parents of Kent’s wife, Amber (Carroll ’06) Brantly:
“Even with this past week’s horrendous news of Kent’s exposure and contraction of the Ebola virus, we have seen and witnessed two incredible things – the power of God who acts on behalf of His people and the love of God’s people poured out on Kent’s and our families. The peaks this past week have been incredibly high and the valleys have been equally low but through it all, God has been faithful to show Himself in such powerful ways. There are so many miracles that we have seen and are seeing that can only be explained as from the hand of God.
On behalf of Amber and our family as well as Kent’s family, we are amazed and humbled by the worldwide response in prayer to this crisis. We cannot share any news of Kent’s condition but please know that we believe Kent will be healed and that healing will come from the hand of God. To say thank you is so inadequate for what we’re feeling! We are humbled and simply blown away by the response.
Our family has experienced such an emotional roller coaster ride with the news this past Saturday of Kent testing positive for the Ebola virus and the birth of our third grandchild on Tuesday and the marriage of Keith and Morgan last night. We’ve laughed, cried, screamed in joy, and everything in between as we’ve shared together the experiences of the week. We thank you so much for sharing with us, especially in your prayers, the joys and trials of the past few days. We have been so touched and blessed by Kent and Amber’s partnership with Samaritan’s Purse as well as so many in the ACU community and the Southern Hills church family. Thank you!
Would you please continue to pray for Kent and Amber as well as Nancy and her husband, David, and the people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone who have been tremendously afflicted and affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus.”
Leading the service along with Hamilton were local dentist Mark Tate, D.D.S. (’80); Dr. Mark Phillips (’88), associate professor and chair of management sciences, and teaching minister of the Southern Hills congregation; and Robert Oglesby Jr. (’81), director of ACU’s Center for Youth and Family Ministry, and Southern Hills’ family minister.
Green led a prayer that included these words:
“… our prayer is not only for these that we love and know by name. We lift up to you thousands of others who suffer from this and other similar diseases, especially those in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Though we may never see their faces, you know each one by name. Though to us, they live in a distant land, to you they reside in your heart. On their behalf we pray for you to be involved. We ask for you to arise and move in visible ways to bring your mercy to the hurting masses. We also lift a special petition for those who – like Kent and Nancy Writebol – have used their gifts and abilities to step into the gap and bring relief. We ask for your protection upon all professionals and volunteers who confront this outbreak. Bless their efforts, guide their thinking and protect their bodies.”
Brantly arrived Saturday at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., where he is being treated in an isolation unit created in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Writebol will reportedly be transported to Emory later this week. Today, CNN.com reported that Brantly and Writebol were given an experimental serum in recent days called ZMapp that had previously only been tested on primates by a pharmaceutical company in California. The National Institutes of Health offered the doses to Samaritan’s Purse.