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.
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.
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.
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