By Arthur Rasco, FACING DARKNESS Director and Producer
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.
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:
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.