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Called for Life recounts the weeks during July and August of 2014 when Samaritan’s Purse missionary to Liberia, Kent Brantly, contracted the Ebola virus. This inspiring book attributes a personality to the name, to the face, to the patient we all watched, prayed for, and in some degree, feared.
Last year, I remember hearing the news about a couple of Samaritan’s Purse missionaries in Liberia who had contracted the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa had been in the news headlines. I remember feeling saddened by the news. I also remember feeling concerned at the thought of the virus being brought into the United States. Rumors spread that at least one of the Liberian missionaries might be flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Like most everyone I knew, I felt compassion for these sick missionaries, but also concern for our own welfare. I wanted these missionaries to receive the care they needed, but I also did not want this deadly virus inside our US borders. I remember watching the plane land at Dobbins Air Force Base. It was here. We had Ebola in the United States. I remember watching the ambulance pull into the parking lot of the hospital. I watched as Kent Brantly emerged from the ambulance and walked inside. I was glad to see him walk. I wanted him to recover in a safe environment, but I did not want this virus close to my family. The mother of one of my in-home preschool children was a triage nurse at another Atlanta hospital. If the disease were to spread, the likelihood of the virus coming inside my own home became a real possibility. I was compassionate, but also somewhat frightened.
When presented with the possibility of reviewing Called for Life, compliments of Family Christian Books, I jumped at the chance. I watched Kent Brantley’s story as it had unfolded in real time. I had prayed for this missionary but I had also feared him – not him, but the virus he carried. Then, when he was released from the hospital, I watched his statement to the press. I remember feeling grateful that his life had been spared, but as I listened to his statement, I realized this man who had battled this deadly virus is also blessed by God. As he spoke, I felt that God’s healing hands had been on him and that his arrival at Emory University Hospital, only an hour from my home, had been orchestrated by God so that this man’s story would go on to glorify Him. I wanted to read his story.
Called for Life did not disappoint.
Dr. Brantly begins by describing the conditions in West Africa which led to the Ebola virus outbreak. He describes the virus so that those of us with little or no medical background can understand the symptoms, the dangers, the way the virus spreads, and the proper protocol for safely treating the disease.
Kent and Amber were medical missionaries who had been called to Liberia, not to treat Ebola specifically, but to minister to the Liberian people. The Ebola outbreak was not on the horizon when they responded to their calling, but the Brantlys say that if the disease had already spread to that area, it would not have changed their decision. They were called to serve in Liberia, period.
A few months after they arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, Kent Brantly treated his first Ebola patient and news of the Outbreak became their reality.
During difficult times, Kent and I had learned to reflect on what God had done in our lives and the calling that He had given us, because doing so put everything into perspective. We’d heard older missionaries say that the work of missions is not safe. There are no promises that we will always be free of danger. The next day is never guaranteed. However, the missionaries could speak from their experiences and assure us of this: the safest place that we can be is in the center of God’s will.” – Amber Brantly, Called for LifeIn Called for Life, Kent and Amber Brantly describe their journey through their battle in detail. Dr. Brantly describes his experience with such detail that as I read through the pages, I felt as if I were there at ELWA hospital, following the doctors and nurses around as they treated patients and took care of one another.
Kent and Amber give Called for Life readers a glimpse inside their personal and professional lives so that you feel you have visited with them in Monrovia as they served.
Called for Life allows readers to get to know the Brantly family. The missionary becomes a person. The sick patient who carried a deadly disease becomes a man who has nothing but compassion for others and sought compassion from others when he needed it most.
By the time I finished the last page of this book, I knew it was God-orchestrated for Kent Brantly to arrive in Atlanta, Georgia. Would I have the same degree of fear if it happens again? Yes. By Dr. Brantly’s own admission inside Called for Life, the means by which he contracted the disease remains a mystery. He thinks he knows how he caught it, but he will never be sure. So, yes, I will still be concerned, but after learning about the conditions on the medical mission fields of countries like Liberia, I know he had to come home in order to survive. I believe God orchestrated his circumstances so that he could come to Atlanta, survive the disease, and tell his story in order to further the Kingdom of God.
To learn more about the Brantly family and understand in greater detail the circumstances surrounding medical missions, the country of Liberia, the needs of nations less prepared than our own, and how God uses tragic circumstances to bring others closer to Him, I highly recommend that you read Called for Life by Kent and Amber Brantly.
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When I knelt next to Felicia (Kent’s first Ebola patient) on that rainy June night outside our hospital, I told myself that everything was about to change. I had no idea how true that was. But one thing has not changed: our desire to live faithful to God’s calling. Our calling is to be faithful wherever we are, to be good stewards of opportunities, to be responsible with what we have been given, to try to do good, and to serve those whose paths we cross. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Kent Brantly, Called for Life