The Good Samaritans fighting Ebola

Five years ago the world watched as Africa grappled with a deadly epidemic as the Ebola virus swept through Liberia, infecting hundreds of people, including healthcare workers.

2019-Another Ebola epidemic

Five years ago the world watched as Africa grappled with a Ebola deadly epidemic as the virus swept through Liberia, infecting and killing scores of people, including healthcare workers.

Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda find themselves in the midst of the second largest Ebola outbreak in history. It began in the DRC last year, and has now spread to Uganda, since the countries share a border and people travel freely between them.

an electron image of the Ebola virus
this colorized transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. credit-CDC/ Frederick A. Murphy, microbiologist, public domain

The 2014 Liberian Epidemic

In 2014, the Ebola virus came to the United States when a volunteer physician working in Liberia contracted the virus and flew home for treatment which proved successful. His illness and recovery from what is usually a fatal disease caught the world’s attention. Here is a summary of the dramatic story.

Dr. Kent Brantly -physician and patient

Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus. Having spent the past few weeks caring for patients caught up in the Ebola epidemic that swept Liberia in the spring of 2014, Dr. Brantly had contracted the disease himself, and would likely die, as almost all victims do.

Dr. Brantly, a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, had volunteered to work at ELWA Hospital in Liberia which was receiving aid from Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. This hospital served as Monrovia’s Ebola treatment center and Dr. Brantly headed the unit.

As his condition deteriorated, his physicians decided his only hope for recovery was use of an experimental drug, ZMapp, previously untested on humans. Since otherwise he was likely to die, he received the drug by infusion into a vein. By the next morning he felt well enough to arise from bed and shower. Unknown to him, thousands of people around the world had been praying for him.

During this time his colleague, nurse Nancy Writebol, was battling her own Ebola infection. She also was treated with ZMapp.

Samaritan’s Purse arranged for both of them to be evacuated to the United States. There, they could continue receiving supportive medical care, as well as allow infectious disease specialists to learn from their conditions. It also would relieve the workload on the doctors who continued to care for Ebola patients at ELWA.

Hear Dr. Brantly describe what it is like to be ill from the Ebola virus.

Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic.

(affiliate link)

An update about Dr. Brantly, July 2019

Five years after contracting the deadly virus in Liberia, the Christian doctor will serve at Mukinge Mission Hospital in Zambia. Read the story here-

Dr. Kent Brantly returns to Africa

It’s not a matter of not fearing. It’s a matter of choosing to have compassion despite fear.

Dr. Kent brantly, christian chronicle.org

The Ebola Fighters

Dr. Brantly and hundreds of other professionals who treated Ebola victims in 2014, the “Ebola fighters”, were named Time magazine’s PERSON of the YEAR for 2014.

Ebola is a war, and a warning. The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease, and “us” means everyone, not just those in faraway places where this is one threat among many that claim lives every day. The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. 

Nancy Gibbs, TIME magazine
An African doctor viewing xrays and MRI image.
World Medical Mission branch of Samaritan’s Purse serves as a lifeline to dozens of mission hospitals by providing millions of dollars worth of critically needed equipment and supplies.

Samaritan’s Purse

Once again, Samaritan’s Purse is working to contain and stop the Ebola epidemic , now in the DRC.

“Samaritan’s Purse opened an Ebola Treatment Center on Jan. 17 in Komanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to meet the needs of suffering people as this deadly disease continues to spread. We are running the center with dedicated national Congolese staff under the oversight of a small international team.

As of July 2, over 2,300 people in DRC have been infected with Ebola, and 1,586 have died from the disease. Sadly, those numbers continue to rise. The fatality rate of the current Ebola outbreak in DRC is a staggering 67 percent—a rate that is elevated due to ongoing violence and resistance among community members.”

You can help Samaritan’s Purse fight Ebola by donating at the link above or

You can also make a donation by mail. Send to: Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607

(Neither Dr. Aletha nor this blog are affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse nor compensated for mentioning their work.)

“The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.”

Samaritan’s Purse website

You can read the Good Samaritan story in my previous post at this link

What happens when we stop to help -being a Good Samaritan

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

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                              Dr. Aletha 

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What happens when we stop to help-being a good Samaritan

“Who is your neighbor?”

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question.

The Parable (Story)  of the Good Samaritan

 Luke chapter 10, NIV

 Jesus said: 

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

sketch of a man helping a wounded man lying on the ground-the good Samaritan
from Lightstock.com, stock photos, video, and graphics, affiliate site

 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.

‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Jesus asked them ,

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 The expert in the law replied,

“The one who had mercy on him.

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In a sermon about the good Samaritan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’

But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question:

‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

“What will happen if we don’t stop to help?”

Books by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are at this affiliate link.

Samaritan’s Purse stops to help people all over the world.

COURTESY OF SAMARITAN’S PURSE

Learn more about the work of Samaritan’s Purse and consider what you might do to help support its work.

The Hunger Site Special Offers On Fair Trade Products Just For You! Help Cure Hunger!

Thanks for visiting and exploring the HEART of health with me through words of faith, hope, and love and helping me share the HEART of health. Please share this post with your friends.

                        Dr. Aletha  

WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health

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The photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

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Ruth Bell- from China to the Amazon

Billy Graham once preached in China, a country well known to his wife because she grew up there. Ruth Bell lived there with her parents who were missionaries. And not just any missionaries.

Her father, L. Nelson Bell was a surgeon at a mission hospital in Tsingkiang, China where  for 25 years he operated on thousands of patients.

When the Bells were forced to return to America by the outbreak of World War II he not only resumed a busy medical practice but became editor of two influential Christian magazines and an active leader in his denomination.

When I published this blog post about the passing of Billy Graham this year,  I remembered an interesting medical connection.

Billy Graham once preached in China, a country well known to his wife because she grew up there. Ruth Bell lived there with her parents who were missionaries. And not just any missionaries.

Her father, L. Nelson Bell was a surgeon at a mission hospital in Tsingkiang, China where  for 25 years he operated on thousands of patients.

When the Bells were forced to return to America by the outbreak of World War II he not only resumed a busy medical practice but became editor of two influential Christian magazines and an active leader in his denomination.

In his book The Journey, Graham wrote about his father-in-law,

After Ruth and I were married he became one of my closest friends and advisers, someone whose wise counsel  I always respected . I  never met anyone who was more disciplined or more determined to make every minute count.

The story doesn’t end there. In 1977 two surgeons wanted to volunteer to work in mission hospitals during their vacation. Their efforts developed into World Medical Mission, a branch of the humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.

Today, hundreds of volunteer Christian healthcare professionals serve in overseas mission hospitals and clinics. The organization also provides critically needed medical equipment and supplies, along with biomedical technicians to install, repair, and maintain the equipment at these facilities.

Leading Samaritan’s Purse as President and CEO- Dr. Bell’s grandson, Franklin Graham, son of Ruth and Billy. 

And in the Bolivian Amazon basin, the Ruth Bell riverboat delivers medical and dental care to remote communities, just like her father did in China many years ago.

The Ruth Bell riverboat, photo from a recent newsletter of World Medical Mission 

 

John 3:16, NIV 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Remembering Reverend Billy Graham -- watercresswords.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reverend Billy Graham- America’s Preacher

John 3:16 is reported to be Billy Graham’s favorite Bible verse. He included it in every sermon he preached because it contains everything he wanted people to know about God.

Even though he is called America’s Preacher, Billy Graham traveled and preached all over the world, including China, the Soviet Union, Europe, Australia, Africa, and North Korea.

On February 21, 2018,  the Reverend Billy Graham died at 99 years of age. He is well known as a preacher, speaker, and evangelist, but he also wrote books. Here are links to some of them.

My home is in heaven. I'm just traveling through this world. Billy Graham
graphic with quote from the late Reverend Billy Graham from Lightstock.com, an affiliate link.

 

 

(These are affiliate links which do not increase your cost but I will earn a small commission to support this blog if you purchase.They are here for your convenience.)

And Dr. Bell’s story is told in A Foreign Devil in China 

Please join me in extending prayers of sympathy to the Graham family and appreciation for sharing their father/grandfather with the world. Thank you.

Dr. Aletha , sharing words of 

faith, hope and love

How one woman handles life’s “trump” cards- a book review

This is not one of those “how we went through a horrible experience and survived by our unshakable faith” stories; rather it is “how we went through extraordinary stress which tested our faith which survived and grew anyway”.

Sara doesn’t tell you how she solved her problems; she admits that her problems caused her to change the way she looks at life, faith and God.

I ran into Sara Stophel, author of TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY and asked her what’s happened new in her life since I reviewed her book. Here’s what she said.

“I finished my Bachelor of Science, Liberal Studies degree this August (2018). Basically, a general degree with minors in Education and Music and a bunch of courses in social work and psychology! I am job hunting…the areas that really draw me in have been in the organ donation area, writing area…and pretty much all the non-profits! Passions lie there. :-)”

Her personal life is going well also. Her son Nik (whose photos appear in this post) works for Samaritan’s Purse.  Samaritan’s Purse is one of the organizations I feature  on my Share the HEART of health page. He is engaged to a young woman who will soon graduate as a nurse. Another son is dating a young woman who is a medical resident. So of course I’m happy to see the Stophel family supporting the health care professions.

Continue reading here or go to this link for even more exciting news about Sara and her family.

Here’s my review of Sara’s moving and inspirational memoir.

TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY:

Juggling Faith, Healing, And Submission to God’s Perfect Plans

BY SARA STOPHEL

A MEMOIR

“Damen Ballard, twenty-five, left his apartment on April 19, 1995, to grab a pack of cigarettes at the convenience store. On his way back he took the shortcut…crossing I-44 on foot at rush hour. He was hit and became a John Doe while doctors tried to save his life. Even as we were watching the terrible news of the Oklahoma City bombing down the road…and fighting against all of those feelings of desperation when we discovered no hearts would be coming…Chuck’s new heart was just two floors above us in the very same hospital.”

large storm cloud
photo by Nikolai Stophel

Sovereignty is a word you may not use or even hear often; I know I don’t.  Probably the most common usage is in a political sense, like the sovereignty (authority) of a nation. Maybe that’s why Sara Stophel offers this definition on the back cover of her book;

“‘Sovereignty’ means that God, as the ruler of the universe, has the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens.

In a game of cards, a trump card overrules any card previously played … But what happens when that “game” is actually life? And what happens when you realize that God’s sovereignty is the final trump card?”

Trumped by Sovereignty is two stories in one book.  One story relates the multiple medical challenges faced by Sara, her husband Chuck,  their children and extended family. The other story describes how Sara coped with these challenges, especially in relationship to her Christian faith.

I have known Sara and her family for several years and already knew much of their story although not all. I know Sara to be direct, truthful and frank. She does not mince words.

(I did not consult Sara prior to writing this review.  I paid for my copy of her book.)

This is not one of those “how we went through a horrible experience and survived by our unshakable faith” stories; rather it is “how we went through extraordinary stress which tested our faith which survived and grew anyway”.

Sara doesn’t tell you how she solved her problems; she admits that her problems caused her to change the way she looks at life, faith and God.

a tornado in Oklahoma
photo of an active tornado by Nikolai Stohel

Sara’s book describes multiple medical conditions that afflicted her family (yes, afflicted is exactly the right word). The list reads like a medical textbook, so much so that you may need to look up some of the terms to understand what they are; she does not describe them in detailed scientific terms.  (I’ve included some links for you to use.)

Between Sara, her husband Chuck, their children and extended family they endured –

Sara and Chuck met in college, a Christian university that is known for its belief in divine healing. However, Sara’s home church did not teach miraculous healing. So it was a new concept for her, and one she found difficult to reconcile as her family’s serious health issues continued to worsen and not respond to medical treatment much less prayer.

She does not expect you to believe that she endured these challenges and tragedies due to strong and unwavering faith; rather she freely admits otherwise. As she puts it, her “truster” frequently breaks and needs repair.

“I could not commune with a God who did not honor my bigger-than-mustard-seed faith. I was more than certain God loved people…but I was also nearly certain He just needed me as a tool of transparency. My truster was broken. Having loved God my whole life, I couldn’t think of anything better…anywhere else to turn…so I just kept on serving and assuming the love and peace of God were for everyone but me.”

Sara sense of humor never wavers, both in her writing, and  in life; she probably could not have made it  through some of the days she has lived without it.

You will laugh, cry, or both at some of her stories like-

  • Her annual physical (which was a year late) with her doctor, Dr. LionKing (an offbeat humorous pronunciation of his real name)
  • Her first CPR class after a family death

And you may get angry as she describes her shabby treatment by the IRS, the cell phone company and the local fire department first responders who refused to take her critically ill husband to the hospital.

hugh storm cloud
impending storm captured by Nikolai Stophel

I encourage you to buy and read Trumped by Sovereignty. I know Sara and her sons which means I also know that their challenges are not over; in fact, they may be bigger than ever. I believe she will continue to face them with the same courage and humor that she has so far; and maybe in a few years she will write volume 2 of her story.

Trumped by Sovereignty is published by Paladin Publishing, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Sara Stophel welcomes invitations to speak; you can follow her on

Facebook  at Sara Stophel -author .

Sara Stophel with her book, Trumped By Sovereignty
Sarah showing her sense of humor, soon after the Presidential election . Is that the President-elect’s name?

Sara’s son Nikolai Stophel is a professional writer/photographer for Samaritan’s Purse. Prior to that position, he  covered the turbulent weather we have here in Oklahoma. His photos of Oklahoma storms illustrate this post. You can find more of his work on Instagram. 

On the 6th anniversary of Chuck’s release from illness and pain, his wife Sara reflected on her Facebook page-

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          Dr. Aletha  

Why we should love our neighbor

Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus.

Mark 12:32-34 New International Version (NIV)

 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, 

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.” 

And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

WHY WE SHOULD LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR

Dr. Kent Brantly, missionary physician to Liberia

 

Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus.

Having spent the past few weeks caring for patients caught up in the Ebola epidemic that swept Liberia in the spring of 2014, Dr. Brantly had contracted the disease himself, and would likely die, as almost all victims do.

Dr. Brantly, a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, had volunteered to work at ELWA Hospital in Liberia which was receiving aid from Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. This hospital served as Monrovia’s Ebola treatment center and Dr. Brantly headed the unit.

As his condition deteriorated, his physicians decided his only hope for recovery was use of an experimental drug, ZMapp, previously untested on humans. Since otherwise he was likely to die, he received the drug by infusion into a vein.

By the next morning he felt well enough to arise from bed and shower. Unknown to him, thousands of people around the world had been praying for him.

During this time his colleague, nurse Nancy Writebol, was battling her own Ebola infection. She also was treated with ZMapp.

Samaritan’s Purse arranged for both of them to be evacuated to the United States. There, they could continue receiving supportive medical care, as well as allow infectious disease specialists to learn from their conditions. It also would relieve the workload on the doctors who continued to care for Ebola patients at ELWA.

Dr. Brantly and his wife Amber, who had just left Liberia to return home for a visit, wrote a book about their experience,

Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic.

I hope you enjoyed these words of faith, hope, and love; please share and follow watercress words as we explore the HEART of health.

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Dr. Aletha WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And the good Samaritan is…

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question,

“Who is my neighbor?”

The term “good Samaritan” means a person who goes out of their way to help someone, especially a stranger, often at  personal sacrifice.

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question,

“Who is my neighbor?”

The term “good Samaritan” means a person who goes out of their way to help someone, especially a stranger, often at  personal sacrifice.

 

 

 

Samaritan’s Purse doctor treating a victim of the Nepal earthquake via Images of Disaster From Nepal.

 

 

The Parable (Story)  of the Good Samaritan

 Luke chapter 10, NIV

 Jesus said: 

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.

‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

 

Jesus asked them ,

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

I think the parable also answers the question “Who  gives health care?”

The story doesn’t mention doctors, nurses, or other  medical professionals  but many health care facilities and charitable organizations use the name “good Samaritan” .

 

Health care includes a variety of acts that contribute to health and well being such as

  • donate food to a local food bank
  • deliver meals to housebound persons
  • coach sports teams
  • donate clothes, blankets and toiletries to a homeless shelter
  • take an animal to visit residents of a nursing home
  • help with clean up after a natural disaster
  • learning and using CPR
  • teaching a child to ride a bicycle or swim
  • helping a special needs child ride a horse
  • taking soup to a sick friend
  • driving a disabled person to a medical appointment

 

In a sermon about the good Samaritan,

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

 

Health care, whether done by professionals or laypersons, asks the same question-

“What will happen if I don’t stop to help?”

Learn more about the work of Samaritan’s Purse and consider what you might do to help support its work.

 

 

 

Thanks for visiting and exploring the HEART of health with me through words of faith, hope, and love and join me in sharing the HEART of health.

                        Dr. Aletha  

Sunday Words- the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25

Samaritan’s Purse doctor treating a victim of the Nepal earthquake

via Images of Disaster From Nepal.

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor? “ The term “good Samaritan” means a person who goes out of their way to help someone, especially a stranger, often at  personal sacrifice .

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

It also answers the question “Who  gives health care?”  Though no medical professionals are in the story, many health care facilities and charitable organizations use the name.  Health care includes the work done by non- healthcare employed people. They

  • donate food to a local food bank
  • deliver meals to homebound persons
  • coach sports teams
  • donate clothes, blankets and toiletries to a homeless shelter
  • take an animal to visit residents of a nursing home
  • help with clean up after a natural disaster

The answer to both questions is 

“The one who showed mercy.”

More information about the work of Samaritan’s Purse