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Serving to Lead

By Bev Kauffeldt, Samaritan’s Purse Liberia


“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.


“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.


“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

The Not So Distant Past

By Arthur Rasco, FACING DARKNESS Director and Producer

The Ebola epidemic of West Africa began nearly three years ago.

But the memories are so close. Ebola wasn’t just three years ago. It seems like it was yesterday.

For many of us here in the U.S., when we think of a news story happening three years ago, it feels like the distant past. But for those who lost so much during a very frightful time, the thoughts of loved ones who are now gone still remain close to the hearts of those who survived.

I’ve been to Liberia several times since 2015, and every time I go back, I’m struck by how some Ebola survivors and widows are still struggling with the effects of the illness.

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SIM missionary and Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol works at ELWA Hospital outside Monrovia counseling Liberian survivors. I can’t think of anyone who is better suited to talk with Ebola survivors than Nancy with her warm and endearing smile. On a Wednesday morning, we were filming with her when a Liberian lady eight months pregnant came in; she was a survivor whom Nancy had not met before. Nancy talked with her very tenderly. Softly. Sincerely. It had been two years since this woman had had the disease. However, within five minutes the lady was weeping as the memories and thoughts rushed back into her heart and mind, and she recalled all that had happened and all the family members she had lost to the illness. Ebola was ruthless in that it spread rampantly among relatives as they would try to care for loved ones, only to unknowingly expose themselves to the highly contagious killer disease. This situation was all too common during the early days of the epidemic and resulted in the deaths of thousands.

And now, this woman, pregnant and alone, was the only one left in her family.

The effects of the epidemic live on, and they will for years and years. As a survivor herself, Nancy understands this well and offers a shoulder to cry on, as well as trauma counseling for Liberian survivors.

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Groups like SIM and Samaritan’s Purse continue their vital work with victims of Ebola. The scars of Ebola run deep and are long-lasting. Through counseling, medical treatment, vocational training and other ministries, these organizations share the love of God to those who have been through so much pain and suffering.

The Ebola epidemic may be over, but the story is not. I’m deeply thankful for those who continue to write the story of meeting the needs of those affected by this dreadful disease.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a minute to check out the trailer for FACING DARKNESS. And then get ready to see this powerful true story of faith when it shows in theaters as a special one-night event on Thursday, March 30.
Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

Vaccine Looks Promising in Ongoing Fight Against Ebola


One of the powerful storylines captured in FACING DARKNESS, is how an untested vaccine helped save the lives of Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol in the midst of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

While the pandemic eventually ended, the work has continued on how best to fight the disease in the future. That’s why a recent article in the New York Times is so encouraging.

“In a scientific triumph that will change the way the world fights a terrifying killer, an experimental Ebola vaccine tested on humans in the waning days of the West African epidemic has been shown to provide 100 percent protection against the lethal disease.

“The vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority, but it is considered so effective that an emergency stockpile of 300,000 doses has already been created for use should an outbreak flare up again.”

You can read the full article here.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a minute to check out the trailer for FACING DARKNESS. And then get ready to see this powerful true story of faith when it shows in theaters as a special one-night event on Thursday, March 30.
Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

Dr. Brantly Currently Serving The Needs of Others In Texas

When you see FACING DARKNESS as a special one-night event in theaters on Thursday, March 30, you will discover much about Dr. Kent Brantly and how God used him in the battle against Ebola in Liberia.

A recent article in his local Fort Worth newspaper put it this way:

“Brantly would become the face of Ebola for many in the United States, writing a book, appearing at the White House and speaking around the country. By the time the outbreak centered in west Africa ended, 11,323 Ebola deaths and 28,646 cases had occurred, according to the World Health Organization. …

“His experience in Liberia, where he worked for nine months as a doctor for the Christian relief agency Samaritan’s Purse has helped shape his outlook for treating patients locally and around the world.”

The in-depth newspaper story shares not only Dr. Brantly’s experience in Liberia, but also his heart of compassion.

“‘There are innumerable lessons we could draw from that experience,’ Brantly said. ‘The one I have tried to preach the most is choosing compassion over fear. I think that, at its core, is the most important lesson that this experience has illustrated. I talk about that from the perspective of my religious faith, the teachings of Jesus to love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

Take a little time and read the entire article.

And then be sure to get your tickets to experience the full story of hope and compassion in FACING DARKNESS on March 30.

Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

Samaritan’s Purse Helping Bring Smiles to Liberia


Perhaps the only thing more incredible than the true story of faith that is told in FACING DARKNESS is the ongoing story of faith that Samaritan’s Purse lives out each day in locations around the world.

A recent article on the ministry’s website details how doctor’s serving with Samaritan’s Purse helped young patients in Liberia.

“God used the skilled hands, compassionate hugs, and professional expertise of our cleft lip and palate medical team to bring new smiles to dozens of adults and children in Liberia during the first week of December.”

The surgeries were conducted at ELWA Hospital, the newly reconstructed hospital that is prominently featured in FACING DARKNESS. The old ELWA served as the hub of the compassionate care offered by the Samaritan’s Purse medical team during the Ebola crisis.

And it still is serving the needs of the people of Liberia.

“‘It’s remarkable to recognize that this couldn’t have happened in our old hospital,’ said Dr. John Fankhauser, chief executive officer of ELWA Hospital. The new hospital has twice as many beds as the old one and now offers three operating rooms instead of just one.”

You can read incredible stories of the people whose lives were changed by the cleft surgeries here.

And you can experience how the Samaritan’s Purse team served as the hands and feet of Jesus amidst Ebola when FACING DARKNESS is in theaters for a special one-night event on Thursday, March 30.

Click Here For Theaters & Tickets

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