He Is My Strength When I Am Weak

By Linda Mobula, MD, MPH

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On September 16, 2014, as I sat listening to Dr. Kent Brantly passionately testify at a joint Senate hearing on Ebola, I was overcome by a myriad of emotions. As he eloquently described to the Senate the need to scale-up a response to the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa, I experienced flashbacks of painful memories. This was the first time I had seen him since his evacuation from Monrovia to Emory University Hospital.

I was overwhelmed by similar emotions as I watched the premiere of FACING DARKNESS, which describes the early response of Samaritan’s Purse to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. The 2013-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak caused more than 11,000 deaths, greater than the number of casualties in all prior historical Ebola outbreaks. Samaritan’s Purse worked alongside Medecins Sans Frontieres, managing the only functional Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia.

Prior to the World Health Organization’s declaration of a public health emergency of international concern, I worked with a small group of brave individuals striving to ensure that patients suffering from this deadly illness received proper medical care. Simultaneously, frightened community members bearing machetes approached the Ebola Treatment Unit, driven by fear, rumors, and uncertainty.

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I was not a stranger to humanitarian emergencies, as I had previously worked with Samaritan’s Purse in post-earthquake Haiti as well as in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. In 2010, 10 months after the earthquake, Haiti experienced an unprecedented cholera outbreak. I intermittently responded to this outbreak in Haiti with Samaritan’s Purse from October 2010 to the fall of 2011. In June 2011, one of the Cholera Treatment Centers, which Samaritan’s Purse operated in a large slum called Cite Soleil, received a total of 200 patients from a neighboring area, going from 40 to 240 patients overnight. I was one of two doctors working during that morning shift and had to mobilize staff to quickly triage patients and stabilize the ones who were severely ill. After this experience, I thought I could handle anything. I was wrong.

In Liberia, we were receiving more and more patients from counties outside of Monsterrado, but did not have sufficient bed capacity to accommodate these patients. It is more challenging to respond to a surge of Ebola patients, as it requires more staff and physical infrastructure that adheres to careful infection control measures. In contrast to cholera, all staff must don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to care for patients, which limits the amount of time one can spend with a patient. I was becoming more overwhelmed and fearful as the outbreak got out of control. I feared for the wellbeing of our personnel and worried about our ability to care for patients with limited staff. I personally experienced heartbreak and uncertainty as more patients died each day. The death of a young boy, whose mother came to visit him every day, would haunt me for months. I was, however, reminded that God remained in control of the situation, even as everything around us fell apart.

FACING DARKNESS is a distinct reminder of the faithfulness of God during troubling times. “His strength is made perfect in weakness,” says Apostle Paul. I encourage you to see this film, as it will inspire you to fulfill God’s call to serve the least of these in challenging places.

The Sounds of Facing Darkness

By Doug Kaufman, Composer/Sound Designer

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Creating the soundtrack for FACING DARKNESS has been a huge honor … helping tell the story of the Liberian people and the amazing team that risked their lives to help them during the Ebola crisis.

The process of developing the music and sound design of the film took a few unconventional turns. Rather than following the usual process of waiting to write the score until the editing of the film was close to complete, the film’s editor, Jacob Snyder, and I decided to develop a palette of instrumental scores and vocal songs for him to choose from and build with as he edited the story.

The vision for the instrumental portions of the soundtrack was to combine traditional Liberian instrumentation with the traditional music of the Southeast U.S. where Samaritan’s Purse is headquartered. Some of the Liberian instrumentation was recorded on-site in Liberia, and the American instruments were recorded in a small country church in the mountains of North Carolina.

I’ve been friends for a long time with Tony Reece, a truly amazing dobro player. He created the signature riffs that you hear punctuated throughout the entire score. One of our producers at Samaritan’s Purse, Bryan Siceloff, is also a talented multi-instrumentalist. He introduced me to the bouzouki, a Greek instrument resembling a giant mandolin. We recorded a lot with that instrument, and also incorporated more traditional acoustic guitar sounds.

I took an acoustic bass and modified it to allow it to play like a baritone guitar. It has a raspy, sort of ominous tone, and you’ll hear it used in a lot of heavier passages of the film. I also recorded on an old upright piano, sampled a lot of abstract percussion, and played a custom-made oil can guitar modeled after the guitars played on the streets of Monrovia.

I brought all these layers back into the studio and combined them with deep electronic pulses, percussion, electric guitar, and ambient sounds to create the final soundtrack for the film.

For the vocal songs, I wanted to find organic, authentic recordings that would complement the instrumental score and reflect the character of the story. I’ve followed Dustin Kensrue’s work for a long time, and after listening to hundreds of songs, finding Oh God ended up being the perfect fit to end the film.

Dillon Hodges recorded a special version of Take These Hands for the film; my wife Laura recorded a beautiful version of It is Well; Jadon Lavik contributed Be Still My Soul; and Swing Low Sweet Chariot by Anya Rose drives a montage toward the end of the film. The hymns are a testament to God’s faithfulness with previous generations, and the newer songs help tell the story of that same faithfulness to the team in Liberia.

Courage Leads to Life

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Ahead of the first showing of FACING DARKNESS, One.org had a blog post written by Arthur Rasco of Samaritan’s Purse, the director of FACING DARKNESS. In his piece, Arthur writes about Joseph, a Liberian whose life has been dramatically changed by the Ebola epidemic.

Joseph Gbembo credits Samaritan’s Purse for saving his life and educating him about Ebola. He told me that God “didn’t make a mistake by sending Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia. It’s really for the purpose to save life.”

In crafting the documentary, Arthur saw Joseph’s incredible story as a beautiful illustration of a challenging concept.

In FACING DARKNESS, I tried to subtly weave in the premise that fear leads to death, but courage leads to life. And I think that Joseph embodies that notion well: In the face of danger, because of the education he had, Joseph could be courageous, help people and stay alive.

You can read Arthur’s full blog post here

If you saw FACING DARKNESS, you too have been inspired by Joseph—as well as the many other people you interact with during the film. If you haven’t seen the movie, you have one last chance: Monday, April 10.

Be sure to get your tickets today and get ready to be inspired by God’s work through Samaritan’s Purse!

Find Theaters for April 10

Everyone’s Talking About Facing Darkness

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Between last week’s initial showing of FACING DARKNESS and next week’s encore presentation on April 10, there have been a lot of stories about the film. Here are a few you might want to read or listen to:

Check out Franklin Graham on …

And make sure to see FACING DARKNESS in its encore presentation in theaters Monday, April 10!
Get Your Tickets Here

Award-Winning Facing Darkness Inspires Moviegoers

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With a special encore presentation this coming Monday, April 10, you still have the opportunity to see FACING DARKNESS on the big screen. You can find theaters and get tickets here.

Wondering what you’ll experience? Check out some of the latest thoughts of people like you who saw the film and posted their comments on Facebook.

“This documentary was amazing. A testament to the power and love of God and the ones who do his work in the name of Christ. I highly recommend this. It was very informative, showing what really went on there in West Africa with the Ebola outbreak. I saw it on March 30 when it came out, everyone who hasn’t please go and see it on April 10.” Sandra

“Great documentary! ‘Faith does not make us safe.’ Is where I am God wants me? Is God being honored? Do I allow Satan to discourage me? The movie challenged me in those areas. I have not faced what they did.” Viviian

“My husband and I went to go see this movie it is wonderful and very enlightening I highly recommend it to everyone. I would highly encourage youth leaders to bring the young people to see this also it’s a great inspiration. They could see how God could call them into a great mission field.” Minta

“Incredible!! Saw it last week! The missionaries stared death in the face. Samaritans Purse HAD to make this film. There’s no other way to explain how big God is. I’m a nurse and I don’t know how the doctors and nurses did it other than God’s strength. Everyone needs to see this film!” Barbara

“Amazing movie! Loved to see how God was there, moving in middle of the darkness. You can see His hand throughout the entire process! Thank you for showing us! Definitely eye opening to what was going on with Ebola and how the media ignored the severe danger of what these people were going through.” Kim

“Wonderful movie! It really inspired me to pray more frequently and much harder for missions and missionaries. My prayer is that God will raise up godly servants to join in the work of Samaritans Purse, and touch many hearts to support the blessed work of this outstanding organization.” Kathy

“Very, very glad I saw this movie. I thought I was paying attention during the epidemic, but oh how this movie enlightened me. We take way too many things for granted. Takeaway: fear is not something to run from, but something to run to.” Ann

“I saw this movie and it was excellent. It made me realize just how indifferent I was to the Ebola breakout when it was in our Headline News. At that time I just thought we can’t have it here. It really made an impact on me. Put a little more of that compassion back into me.” Enda

“It’s great to read 50 wonderful reviews of a movie and not ONE negative thing said. I will definitely go see this April 10, if it’s shown around my area!” Debra

What A Night!

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FACING DARKNESS was seen in hundreds of theaters across the U.S. on March 30. The response was overwhelming—both in numbers of people who experienced the film and in their responses.

“I just came from the movie. It impacted me so profoundly I can’t even put it into words! Thank you to any and all involved in the making of this documentary! I wish I could leave tomorrow and go help! … I will spread the word of this amazing film to any and every one I can! Thank you for restoring and ‘recharging’ my spiritual soul!!!” Kim

“Powerful, inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting. I followed the Ebola outbreak from the safety of my lab, where we were prepared to test for the virus. This movie brings you to the frontlines where the real battles were being waged by ordinary people who worked with extraordinary love and courage.” Chris

“Amazing and powerful movie!! Thank you, Samaritan’s Purse, for sharing of God’s love for mankind in this very moving and powerful movie of how God worked and is still working in the lives of these amazing individuals who so selflessly gave their all to help so many in dire need! Compassion over fear!” Barb

“This touched me deeply. Every human life is precious and I’m truly thankful for those who are willing to care for those suffering in hard places. I thank God for the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.” Lori

Because of your support, the film will have a special encore presentation on Monday, April 10. You can find a list of theaters and get your tickets here.

Get Your Tickets Here

Three Things I Learned from Making Facing Darkness

By Arthur Rasco, FACING DARKNESS Director and Producer

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The film FACING DARKNESS is not just about Ebola. It’s about survival, life, and courage.

While most of us have obviously not faced Ebola specifically, we have encountered frightful, scary times in our lives. We’ve encountered loss, danger, car accidents, needs of others, diseases, and other adversities. And they can take our breath away.

But in sharing the story of Dr. Kent Brantly in FACING DARKNESS, I wanted to be able to share a story that would help and encourage people through tough times.

At the time we started to build the story architecture of FACING DARKNESS, my father had just moved into my home so my family could help care for him as he was in the final stages of a battle against cancer.

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He was getting very thin and frail. Every night I put lotion on his back to help moisturize his dry skin, and as I rubbed it in, I could feel every one of his ribs and vertebrae. His appetite wasn’t much, and he slept a lot.

Honestly, we didn’t talk about cancer much. Because the disease took so much from us, I didn’t want it to take our time and joy as well. But no doubt this was scary for him.

As David Schroeder, my co-writer on FACING DARKNESS, and I started to lay out the storyline, I told him, “I want this to be a story that will give my father courage to face cancer bravely and not to be afraid of death.”

Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul was convinced that nothing would separate those who have faith in Jesus Christ from God the Father. Nothing. Nothing in life, nothing in death. Nor any other thing. And so that faith and trust in Christ can give us courage to face difficult circumstances. No matter what, we belong to Him, so let us be able to move past the fear of what we are facing now or may face in the future. Faith can give us courage to move past fear.

With this in mind, I found myself learning several lessons while making this documentary:

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Fear leads to death, but courage leads to life
When Ebola first came onto the scene in West Africa, many didn’t understand what it was and what was happening. They didn’t even trust the doctors and the hospitals. They were afraid, and that fear kept them in the villages, where they infected more people. The governments of affected nations were afraid of how the epidemic would interfere with commerce and trade, and that denial kept the epidemic growing. But courage to face the disease head on, on a national scale and on a personal scale, helped save lives. Courage fueled by faith and compassion helped save moms, dads, and children.

Choose compassion over fear. Compassion can fuel courage.
Dr. Brantly chose compassion, just as Jesus did (Matthew 9:36). When Dr. Brantly treated Liberian patients, he treated them like they were family. As he did that, his compassion gave him a reason, a “why” if you will, to face any fears. Compassion allows us to put others first. Our fears are self-centered. We can see how loving others can be a more powerful element in our lives than self-centeredness.

God is with us
Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” As we see in FACING DARKNESS, we will encounter challenging circumstances, frequently while serving in the name of Christ. However, God promises not to leave us, and He will give us everything we need to remain faithful to Him.

I hope this film inspires you to face whatever challenges you might be going through right now.

See FACING DARKNESS in theaters for two nights: Thursday, March 30 and Monday, April 10.

Get Your Tickets Here

A Second Showing Added for Facing Darkness!

Now You Can See it March 30 or April 10

Second Showing

FACING DARKNESS will be in theaters NEXT Thursday, March 30. But what has long been planned as a one-night event in theaters has just become a Two-Night event!

Because of your incredible support of next Thursday’s showings, Fathom Events has already announced an encore showing on Monday, April 10. Tickets for the second showing are now live on the website.

We are excited to offer this second opportunity for people who might otherwise miss out on seeing this award-winning documentary on the big screen.

So whether you’ll be going next Thursday, March 30 or on Monday, April 10, know that you will be supporting the works of Samaritan’s Purse as you are being inspired by everyday people willing to do whatever it takes to share the love of Christ with a hurting world.

Get Your Tickets Here
If your theater doesn’t have ticketing up yet for April 10, be sure to check back. Some theaters will be adding that information in the coming days.

Spreading the Word

Nancy Writebol

Word is getting around about FACING DARKNESS, which arrives as a one-night event in more than 700 select theaters on Thursday, March 30.

Greta Van Susteren, one of the first news people to report on the gravity of the Ebola crisis, shared the movie’s trailer with her more than 1 million Facebook followers and encouraging them to see the film.

And if you haven’t recently seen the Endorsement page on the movie’s website, you have missed some great new thoughts about the movie.

Phil and Al Robertson
“What an incredible true story about love and faith in the face of such grave danger! Dr. Kent Brantly and his team showed fierce courage and miraculous faith treating so many who were infected with such a killer like Ebola. Jesus said there is no greater love that that of someone willing to lay down his life. That is what this movie and Samaritan’s Purse is all about. Go watch this movie and be prepared to be inspired and challenged to do what Jesus commanded us to do.”

Aaron Shust, Christian Recording Artist and Worship Leader
“Through tears, my wife Sarah and I just finished watching FACING DARKNESS. It is incredibly well done, and a beautiful spotlight on the love of Christ to a hurting world.”

Steve Green, President of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
“This movie is a powerful story of the human spirit at its best. A story of an epidemic that could have been even more catastrophic than it was, had it not been for those who courageously and selflessly determined to do all they could in spite of extreme danger. A must see!”

Plan ahead and get your tickets today to see FACING DARKNESS on March 30!
Get Tickets Here

A Reluctant Hero

Nancy Writebol

Nancy Writebol has an incredible story to tell. And on March 30, you will be able to see her story—and the story of so many others serving and living in Liberia during the Ebola crisis—when FACING DARKNESS arrives in select theaters across the U.S.

Along with Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy became one of the names and faces Americans associated with Ebola after she contracted the disease. The incredible and faith-filled story of how both Kent and Nancy survived is at the heart of FACING DARKNESS.

Nancy recently shared part of her story about serving Christ in Liberia on the His Radio morning program.

“I’m so grateful not only that Kent and I both survived, but also so many of our Liberian brothers and sisters have survived,” Nancy shared on air. “When people say we’re heroes, we don’t really think that way. We think we were just doing what God called us to do. The Liberians are really the heroes.”

Watch the full interview with Nancy here

And then get ready to be inspired and awed by the people God chose to use and the miracles He authored in West Africa!

FACING DARKNESS is a one-night event in theaters Thursday, March 30 only.
Get Tickets Here

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