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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

Serving to Lead

By Bev Kauffeldt, Samaritan’s Purse Liberia

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“Servant leadership” has been a catchphrase in leadership circles for many years. There are many definitions floating around in the business world, churches, sports, and politics. In most cases, leaders want to serve those they are leading, but may not always know the best way to carry this out. For some, however, this is a new and very challenging concept, especially for those with beliefs and cultural customs where leadership is a license for power.

One of the teachings that we do in our Samaritan’s Purse post-Ebola programming in Liberia is servant leadership training with local community leaders. The motivation for this program stems from many community leaders stating that they didn’t know how to lead and protect their community during the Ebola crisis. I remember very vividly talking to one clan chief who was apologizing for running our staff out of their town during our Ebola campaign. Unfortunately, their community lost many people to Ebola. He sorrowfully stated, “We were confused, scared, and didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t know what was best for our people. We are sorry.” My heart broke for this old papay. You could see the sorrow and regret he carried with him.

Much of the training focuses on the Biblical teaching of Jesus and how He taught what real leadership is. One of the lessons caught my attention when I was reviewing the curriculum. The lesson is based on Mark 10:42-45 where Jesus addresses James and John, who are seeking the world’s view of leadership—a high position in heaven next to Jesus. That’s exactly how the world views leadership: it means being powerful, self-promoting, and served by others. Worst of all, it means being focused on yourself rather than those you are serving. Jesus uses the opportunity to teach His followers a different way; some would call it revolutionary or a counter-cultural way of leading. Christ’s definition of leadership focuses not on yourself, but defines success as serving others first and taking the time to identify with people—serving to lead.

As our staff go through the servant leadership lessons, they work through how they can better serve their community and, most of all, how can they better lead their community through a future traumatic shock like Ebola. Servant leadership is about serving others every day while God might be preparing you for a time of crisis when He needs you to lead people through a tough situation. All those days of serving to lead will give people the confidence to follow you through a crisis. You will be able to lead with love to the point of sacrificially giving of yourself to keep others safe through that crisis.

Fallah Assah, a young Liberian man participating in leadership training with Samaritan’s Purse, said, “I have been encouraged by the leadership training because it provides the practical knowledge and skills for leaders. I am the youth leader in Mendicorma and the knowledge and skills I have acquired from this training has helped me carry out my leadership responsibilities with courage and patience.”

It is our prayer that leaders like Fallah will continue to follow Jesus in their leadership. There may be a time when Fallah is called upon to be that courageous leader in a time of crisis. There may be a time when he has to be patient with those he is leading to safety. It is our prayer that he will be serving to lead through every situation.

Please continue to pray for our staff as they teach and that the hearts of the leaders in these classes would be touched by the teachings of Jesus and be serving leaders for their communities.

Sports Helps Bring Emotional Healing to Kids in Liberia

A recent story on the Samaritan’s Purse website talks about how the Ebola crisis has impacted the children of Liberia … and how these resilient future leaders are discovering God’s love through sports.

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“Before the outbreak, Samaritan’s Purse had children’s sports programs—known as active fellowship—in many communities. But when all attention turned toward stopping the spread of the virus, these programs had to be abandoned. As children watched their family members die, they had no outlet to escape the harsh realities around them. They couldn’t just be children. …

“Once Liberia was declared Ebola-free, Samaritan’s Purse was able to focus once again on other projects. Our staff members saw that teachers had restarted active fellowship in their communities, so we came alongside them to help support them. …

“Nearly 3,000 Liberian children lost at least one parent during the Ebola crisis. Many others lost other relatives or friends. Every child in the country experienced trauma on some level. Through the active fellowship program, Samaritan’s Purse is aiming to reach 25,000 Liberian children with the hope of the Gospel.”

Read the full story here and then get your tickets to see the powerful and inspiring documentary FACING DARKNESS, in theaters Thursday, March 30 only.

Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

Leadership in Times of Crisis

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:19-20

Caring. Hope. Compassion. Love.

That’s what Samaritan’s Purse brought to the people of West Africa before Ebola struck … during the crisis … and in the aftermath.

And at the center of it all is Christ’s love. In an article on the Samaritan’s Purse website, the ministry’s leadership development program is highlighted.

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“Samaritan’s Purse began working with Ebola survivors in Liberia in several capacities—through clinics, vocational training, support groups, and other programs. One of these programs is called Leadership Development and Trauma Counseling. One reason Ebola spread in rural communities was because of the lack of leadership. Along with counseling those who experienced suffering and loss, the program aims to develop leadership capacity in rural communities. …

“Samaritan’s Purse is already seeing change in the communities where leaders are being trained. Tanneh, who is a women’s leader in her community, said the classes have encouraged her to lead a community cleanup day. She has also been encouraging her sick neighbors to go to the hospital and pregnant mothers to seek prenatal treatment.”

The healing continues in Liberia.

See the story of how Samaritan’s Purse served the needs of the Liberians amidst the Ebola epidemic in the inspiring new documentary FACING DARKNESS, in theaters Thursday, March 30 only.
Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

On the Front Lines Again

By Lance Plyler, MD
Medical Director, Samaritan’s Purse

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Who would have thought that the Ebola epidemic of 2014 would lead us to Iraq in 2017? Ebola in Liberia—it was a war in and of itself, only a different form of a war. It was at a microscopic level with a deadly virus. We were pursuing an unseen enemy, so it really did, in many ways, prepare us for something like what we’re doing now—operating an emergency field hospital in a war zone in Northern Iraq. But now we see how God has paved the way for us to engage in such a response.

Samaritan’s Purse has had a presence in northern Iraq for six years now. We’ve been working there, and with the refugees leaving Mosul slowly, we’ve been able to meet some of their needs through an affiliation with the World Food Programme to distribute food, non-food items, and blankets and just trying to address all their needs.

With the continuing fighting in Mosul, we knew that more medical support was needed. The nearby city of Erbil was taking all the medical cases, but they were being overwhelmed. Initially, we sent out a mobile medical team to make an assessment. Then, Ken Isaacs, our vice president of programs and government relations, traveled there and met with World Health Organization (WHO) officials, who didn’t even realize that we had this kind of capacity.

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I’ve been with Samaritan’s Purse five years now, and to reflect on where we were five years ago … I mean, there’s no way we could have engaged in this kind of medical intervention five years ago. But we’ve taken steps along the way, and God’s prepared us. Certainly 2014—with our response in Liberia and the fight against Ebola—that prepared us tremendously for this opportunity to serve the people of Iraq. In December 2016, we made a six-month commitment to operate a tier-two hospital with a 40-bed capacity, two surgical theaters, and an emergency room, all comprising a sophisticated emergency field hospital. Right now, we’re working very hard to find adequate personnel to staff the hospital.

Looking back on Ebola, it was an incredible experience for us to glean the kind of skills and protocols that we need to respond in a war-torn country like Iraq. A number of the medical professionals working with us in Iraq also served with us in Liberia. They’re coming with their experience from that response and applying it to the situation now. Again, they’re putting their lives at risk to provide life-saving services and we’re blessed to partner with them again. It’s an honor to see them on the front lines of ministry.

And just like Ebola, Iraq is a situation that we’ll have to rely on our faith very heavily to respond and be over there.

Healing Hands

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In the new movie FACING DARKNESS, we hear Dr. Kent Brantly—the physician who contracted Ebola while serving the people of Liberia—declare the following:

“When we put a face on an issue, we have to choose whether we’re going to have compassion or react in fear or pretend to be ignorant.”

In FACING DARKNESS, you will meet beautiful people, created in God’s image, who were affected by, and fought against, Ebola. But before March 30—the one night for this special event in theaters—we’d like you to see some more beautiful faces living and serving in West Africa.

Take a look at this story on the Samaritan’s Purse website and then be inspired to get your tickets to see FACING DARKNESS on March 30!

See the article.

Get Your Ticket Today

Continuing to Provide Hope in Liberia

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On a daily basis, the reminders of Ebola are everywhere you look in Liberia. A Samaritan’s Purse blog post recently shared the story of Jenneh, an Ebola survivor … and now the primary care giver to 15 children who were orphaned by the epidemic.

But she’s not alone. Samaritan’s Purse is still actively helping Jenneh and others throughout the region.

“Provided with training on urban gardening from Samaritan’s Purse, Jenneh and her sister are now using part of her mother’s land as a garden to grow cabbage, okra, corn, and hot pepper, all to assist her in providing for her large family.

“‘The program has really helped me,’ she said. ‘The children can eat! So the garden has helped reduce the burden for food. The children also help me in the garden. I pass on the knowledge that has been given to me and teach it to them as well.’”

You can read the full story here.

And be sure to see how Samaritan’s Purse was used by God to help during the Ebola epidemic in the new movie FACING DARKNESS, which will be in theaters as a one-night event on Thursday, March 30.
Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

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