'Choose compassion,' Ebola doctor & survivor exhorts Americans

by Kelly Ledbetter, |

FORT WORTH, Texas (Christian Examiner) – Kent Brantly, the physician who was the first person to receive experiment Ebola treatment that saved his life, and his wife Amber recently returned to their home in Liberia to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Brantly's recovery.

"We had the opportunity to say thank you and to express our deep gratitude to the many who cared for me in my illness, who fasted and prayed for me in their churches and who took action in official capacities to allow a patient sick with Ebola to be evacuated across the Atlantic Ocean," wrote Brantly.

On July 21 the Brantlys released a book, Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic, in which Brantly describes his experiences with the disease and credits God with his recovery.

"I know that some consider it controversial for me to claim that God saved my life when I had received an experimental drug and some of the greatest medical care available in the world," Brantly says in his book.

"But when I see the unlikely and highly improbable events that occurred—not only during my illness, but also for decades preceding the Ebola epidemic in West Africa—I see the hand of God at work, and I give him the credit."

The doctor contracted Ebola while serving as a medical missionary at ELWA Hospital in Liberia in 2014. Before he was evacuated, he believed he would die.

"I serve a faithful God who answers prayers," Brantley testified just months after his recovery. "An army of prayer warriors stormed the throne of the almighty God. And the God of the universe performed a great miracle and spared my life."

However, the doctor warns the deadly disease is not finished causing tragedy.

Beyond the 27,706 Ebola cases estimated by the World Health Organization, Brantly reminds Americans about the uncounted numbers affected by the breakdown of healthcare in West Africa and the continuing stigma surrounding Ebola.

"A constantly present, endemic threat such as Ebola can prevent the rebuilding of resilient health systems in affected countries."

Brantly is affiliated with Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational Christian ministry dedicated to international relief.

Since his recovery, Brantly has spoken out to raise awareness about the ongoing cost of Ebola. He has shared his testimony before the President, Congress, and numerous religious and secular organizations.

He urged Americans to decide "what our response will be to this ongoing tragedy on the other side of the world," pleading for compassion for those continuing to suffer.

While Liberia was recently declared free of Ebola, new cases of Ebola are reported weekly in Sierra Leone and Guinea. The long-term effects of the disease on the region have yet to make themselves fully felt.

Brantly said he believes he can presently do the most good for the Ebola crisis by reminding the international community about its continuing effects.

"As we as a global community seek to learn the lessons of this epidemic, let us not fail to recognize and extinguish the ongoing threat. Let us choose compassion over fear or apathy."