Month: December 2016

Joy Returns to Liberia

By Joni Byker, Deputy Country Director

Joy Returns to Liberia

Remember, as a child, the anticipation of opening your Christmas presents? Oh the excitement and mystery of what could possibly be under the shiny wrapping paper! Growing up with three siblings, my Mom loved to keep our anticipation growing by not putting anyone’s names on the gifts under the tree. I had no idea which one was mine. Was it the small one in the back? The odd shaped one? Or… the HUGE one everyone wanted?!

In a similar way, we have had some amazing anticipation moments this year in Liberia. For a while there, it was hard for me to imagine that life could possibly return to “normal” after the trauma and devastation of Ebola. There was very little joy during Ebola and a whole lot of heartbreak and grief. There are still so many hurting individuals and families grieving the gaping holes their loved ones left behind. To be honest, I didn’t expect to see joy in Liberia for quite a while. But I can tell you, it is slowly coming back into this country and in beautiful ways!

One of those ways was through ELWA Hospital. This year we were able to complete the construction of a new hospital, almost doubling the capacity of the old facility. We started construction in 2012, and turned the facility over to SIM/ELWA in October of 2016. Talk about anticipation! This was a huge project for our office, and to see the final details of the hospital come together those last few months, as well as the growing anticipation of what this gift was going to bring for the people of Liberia, it was like wrapping a massive present!

Last week we had the privilege of hosting the first Samaritan’s Purse Cleft Lip and Palate Program in Liberia at the new ELWA Hospital. Being able to have the opportunity to work within the hospital, along with our partners SIM and ELWA as we transformed lives through the cleft lip program, it was like opening a gift! Over 60 men, women and children from all over Liberia came to ELWA Hospital to be screened for surgery. The medical team, consisting of Samaritan’s Purse medical staff and ELWA Hospital staff, completed an incredible 39 surgeries in five days. Lips and lives were being transformed right before my eyes! I was able to spend a day in the operating room, watching the team use their gifts and talents as they took such good care of our patients. My favorite moments were the anticipation of seeing the reaction of their families when they were out of surgery. Smiles. Hugs. Dancing! Oh what a beautiful gift it was.

But the giving was not over.

Joy Returns to Liberia

Of the 39 surgeries, several of the patients were young children, many of whom deal with teasing and laughter on a daily basis because of their deformity. These were children who were born “different” and were reminded of that fact each day. So before they left for their homes and communities with their new lips, we sent them off with one more gift… an Operation Christmas Child shoebox! Shoeboxes filled with school supplies, toothbrushes, hygiene items and so many toys! It was the perfect way to end their stay with us, providing us another opportunity to share about the greatest gift of all—better than the gift of a new hospital, better than the gift of a new lip—Jesus himself!

Because of Jesus, there is beauty in Liberia again. There is joy returning to the people of Liberia again. I honestly didn’t know if I would see it when I returned. But this year I have seen the joy of Christ shine through some of the darkest of circumstances. Sometimes He shines through a beautiful new hospital. Sometimes through a new lip, and sometimes He shines through a simple shoebox gift.

It’s All About Vision

by Kendell Kauffeldt
Liberia Country Director, Samaritan’s Purse

Its All About Vision

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians in Chapter 3, writes: “not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on … straining toward what is ahead … I press on towards the goal … our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await our Savior.” These thoughts challenge me and encourage me to keep my head up and my eyes on what God has called me to do. It’s all about vision.

Why it was God’s plan for me to lead our Samarian’s Purse Liberia office during the Ebola crisis, I am not sure, and to be honest with you, I will never be the same person or leader because of the challenge. I succeeded by God’s grace during this time, and I failed during this time, but God’s grace never changed.

I have asked myself many times since the outbreak, “Why do I continue?” Here is the reason: God gave our Liberia office a clear vision before the Ebola outbreak, and that vision remains strong after the Ebola outbreak. It is our vision that keeps me going.

This is the Samaritan’s Purse Liberia Vision Statement: Our vision is to see lives transformed through the Gospel, churches strengthened through partnership, and communities improved through our work.

This past week in our morning devotions, we looked at our vision statement again before we had project leaders come and testify. We heard about Terrie, Hawa, and Momo, whose lives had been burdened by drug abuse and alcoholism … abused and abusive. Today, these lives have been transformed through the Gospel, through Jesus. We heard about the churches in Proneken and Yassadu that are being strengthened through our projects because children have challenged the church to be more.

And we heard about Passamadu, a community that is now united through training provided by our projects; they are working together to provide for themselves.

Ebola was a deep valley that God had us walk through, but our vision did not change, and our God cannot change. And so we keep going, powered by His grace.

Finding God In The Middle Of Our Storms

Hear Franklin Graham Share About Facing Darkness

Franklin Graham recently spoke with journalist Billy Hallowell about the powerful new movie FACING DARKNESS. The article on Faithwire not only shares the movie’s background, but also its heart.

A new documentary titled, “Facing Darkness” will tell the unbelievable story surrounding Liberia’s battle with Ebola and the role that Franklin’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, played in helping fight against the disease. Set for release nationwide during a one-night-only showing on March 30, 2017, the movie will take viewers deep inside the harrowing ordeal.

Within the story, Franklin talks about lessons he learned during the Ebola crisis … and what moviegoers will experience when they see FACING DARKNESS on Thursday, March 30.

“It’s an incredible story of how God opened doors. When Dr. (Kent) Brantly was dying … and there was now no hope, God showed up and his life was saved,” Graham said. “We want to preserve this for history. People needed to know what God did in the darkest hour, and he will do that for all of us in the midst of the darkest hour of our life. …

“I want them to realize that God is the same God in the middle of the storm as he is on the bright sunny day,” Graham said. “God was there. God was with us and God was with Dr. Brantly and Nancy Writebol.”

Be sure to read the full story, which also includes the trailer.

© 2017 Facing Darkness

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