When Kent and Amber Brantly moved their family to Liberia to serve with Samaritan’s Purse they knew they might not make it home. As young 30-somethings they drafted wills and wrote letters to their family members in the event that something happened. And while they were prepared to die for their faith as Philippias 1:21 says, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain, they weren’t expecting to be cast in the middle of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
One year ago today Kent Brantly was quarantined in a Liberian hospital, waiting for the test results that would reveal whether his symptoms were from something common like miliaria, or something devastating like Ebola. And on July 26, 2014 results confirmed the worst. Kent had Ebola.
I remember watching the video of Kent, like millions of us did, covered head to toe in a thick white suit as he made his way back to the US for treatment. Kent describes Ebola as “a painful, disheartening, dehumanizing disease. I had to have someone else change my diaper.” By God’s grace his wife and children were not in Liberia at the time. They were in Texas for Amber’s brother’s wedding. Although, Amber says she wishes she could have been by her husband’s side during this battle.
I asked Kent if he feels survivor’s guilt. “More than survivor’s guilt I feel a sense of survivor responsibility,” he says. “I’m alive today, many others aren’t, 11,260 others aren’t. I have a responsibility to use my life in a way that is meaningful and helpful. Part of that is to continue to raise awareness that West Africa needs help of the rest of the international community.”
I feel some of that same responsibility having been to Liberia myself. My husband and I traveled there in 2011 with Water of Life. We fell in love with the people and often think about the villages we visited and the well we saw drilled. Liberia was only just rebuilding after a 14-year civil war destroyed nearly everything. Even the elephants left.
The World Health Organization says only a few dozen doctors serve in Liberia. “There is so much need there for education, for electricity and clean drinking water, for health care, for so many things that help society function,” says Kent. Amber says, “And that’s why we were there in the first place. Now to add Ebola on top if it they are just devastated.”
Watch my full interview with Kent and Amber Brantly here: