Christian doctor who nearly died of Ebola returning to Africa: 'God has opened the doors'

Kent Brantly
Dr. Kent Brantly |

Dr. Kent Brantly, the Christian doctor who nearly lost his life after contracting the Ebola virus while serving Liberia, announced that God has called him back to Africa to continue his medical mission work.

During a recent interview with The Christian Chronicle, Brantly announced that he, along with his wife, who is a registered nurse, and two kids, are headed to the South African nation of Zambia.

“We’ve spent time praying and fasting and talking together about it," Brantly said, "and God has really opened the doors every step of the way.”

“It’s been five years of emotional healing and spiritual healing and growth. I think we’ve grown and been equipped in ways during these five years that we were not before we went to Liberia.”

In July 2014, Brantly, who was serving in Monrovia with the evangelical relief organization Samaritan's Purse, contracted Ebola — also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever — while treating sick patients. He was given the experimental drug ZMapp and flown back to the United States where he underwent three weeks of intensive treatment at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital.

Brantly previously told The Christian Post his faith allowed him to remain calm after Lance Plyler, director of World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan's Purse, gave him the devastating diagnosis. 

"I really counted it as a blessing from God that I responded the way that I did," he said. "Had it been any other day any other week, I may not have responded the same way."

"... In the days leading up to my diagnosis, I had some time to reflect and read Scripture and think about the situation we were in. I was isolated for three days before my diagnosis came back, and so during that time, I was able to get to a state of mind with a perspective on what we were doing there. And I think that was a gift from God that totally transformed the way that I responded to the situation so that when I did get my diagnosis I said, 'God, I just came here to serve you; I just want you to be glorified.' And I think He answered that prayer."

Five years after that fateful phone call, Plyler once again rang up Brantly —  this time asking for his help in a rural area that has a doctor shortage.

Now, Brantly plans to work at Mukinge Mission Hospital, a 200-bed facility, which is about 100 miles from the nearest supermarket. The Brantlys will partner with an organization called Christian Health Service Corps and have committed to serving at least two years at the hospital.

From 2014 to 2016, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa claimed 11,325 lives, according to the World Health Organization. Brantly, who appeared on the cover of Time as the magazine named “The Ebola Fighters” as its 2014 Person of the Year, said he’s grateful to God for saving his life — and now desires to “live a life that is faithful to the calling He’s given me.”

“Right now, I think that means moving my family to Zambia to serve at a Christian mission hospital — to serve the poor and have compassion for the people in need and to participate in God’s work of making all things new and fixing the broken things in this world,” he said.

The Brantlys documented their ordeal in the book Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us Into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic. The doctor said that during their time in the states, he and his wife “really tried to use the platform to call for help for the people of West Africa” and “share the message with all of society, but particularly with the church, of the importance of choosing compassion over fear.”

Brantly asked his supporters to “join his family in prayer” as they “head off on this new journey.”

“We’re trusting that God has opened the doors and he’ll pave the way,” he said. “If there’s running, heated water, we’ll be fine.”

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