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August 9th, 2014
06:01 PM ET

Why missionaries put their lives on the line

By Daniel Burke and Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) - It wasn’t as if God's voice boomed through sun-parted clouds, telling Kent Brantly to move his family to Liberia.

Still, the young doctor said, the call was clear.

It echoed through the congregation where he was raised, Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis.

Standing before the church community in July 2013, months before he left for Africa, Brantly said he heard the call in the teachers who urged him to memorize Scripture and the neighbors who funded his first mission trip years ago.

He saw it in the aunts and uncles who spent their vacations running Bible camps, organizing youth groups and serving missions themselves in Africa.

“It may not seem like much,” Brantly said in an emotional address to the Southeastern congregation, “but when you connect the dots you see a grand design that God has used to draw my life in a certain direction.”

For Brantly, that meant serving a two-year medical mission in Liberia with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization. But in a grim twist that garnered international headlines, the 33-year-old contracted Ebola while treating patients and was airlifted back to the United States.

Brantly and a fellow missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was serving with SIM, another Christian aid organization, are being treated for the disease at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

After Liberia's outbreak began in March 2013, Writebol volunteered at a hospital in Monrovia, where she disinfected doctors and nurses working with patients stricken by the disease.

Despite their weakened health, their trust in God remains strong, family members said.

“Mom is tired from her travel, but continues to fight the virus and strengthen her faith in her Redeemer, Jesus,” said Jeremy Writebol, Nancy’s son.

On Friday, Brantly said that he felt a spiritual serenity even after learning his diagnosis.

“I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding,” he said. “God was reminding me of what he had taught me years ago, that he will give me everything I need to be faithful to him.

Though Brantly's wife and children had been in Liberia with him, they had returned to the United States when he became ill.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Catholic Church • Charity • Christianity • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith & Health • Foreign policy • Health • Health care • Liberia • Missionaries

August 5th, 2014
12:13 PM ET

Learning to love the 'enemy' in Iraq

Opinion by Jeremy Courtney, special to CNN

(CNN) –We had no idea what we were doing, so we helped everyone.

My wife and I moved to Iraq in 2007 to assist in relief and development. We have since made friends on all sides, deep behind “enemy lines.”

Since the fall of Mosul to Sunni militants in June, the world has struggled to accept the failure of the American project in Iraq, the rise of “political Islam” and the marking of Iraqi Christians and other minorities for death or expropriation.

The world may watch from afar and denounce all Iraqi Muslims as militants bent on conquest. But up close, the reality is very different.

It was a Muslim cleric who may have saved this Christian's life. And I'm not the only one.

Even as jihadists justify their atrocities in the name of Islam, millions of Muslims are standing in solidarity with Christians who have been expelled from their homes.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Foreign policy • Iraq • Islam • Middle East • Missionaries • Opinion

9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)
July 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

As the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s founder publicly opposing same-sex marriage continues - Mike Huckabee is pushing for a Chick-fil-A day, while the Jim Henson Co. is cutting ties to the chain - we’re republishing our list of 10 other religious companies.

Our initial list was provoked by an earlier Chick-fil-A/same-sex marriage controversy. Is our list missing any names? Tweet us at @CNNBelief to let us know.

Here are 10 well-known companies that don't make religious products - we're not talking kosher foods manufacturer Manischewitz here - but that nonetheless take their religious sides seriously (listed in no particular order).

1. Forever 21. The young women’s clothing company may be best known for its skimpier and saucier offerings, but it also exudes subtle piety. The words John 3:16 – a citation of a biblical verse popular among evangelical Christians - appears at the bottom of its stores' shopping bags. A spokeswoman for the company told The New York Sun that the message is a "demonstration of the owners' faith."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Missionaries

June 17th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Missionaries tapping portable satellite technology in remote outposts

By John Couwels, CNN

Orlando, Florida (CNN) - Christian missionaries have been traveling to remote regions around the world for centuries to spread, as they would describe it, the good news of Jesus Christ.

But now a tiny plastic and metal device packed with cutting-edge technology attached to a computer could accelerate the pace of spreading that news - like an answer to prayer.

The answer has come in the form of a satellite terminal that is smaller than a laptop computer. The device, a BGAN satellite terminal, brings the Internet to some of the most remote parts of the world.

Corporations, governments and television networks have used BGAN devices for years to communicate by e-mail, phones or to broadcast live video signals from remote locations.

Wycliffe Bible Translators has only just begun distributing these devices to translators and linguists working to translate the Bible into every spoken language.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Florida • Missionaries • Technology • United States

January 27th, 2011
09:49 AM ET

U.S. missionary in Mexico fatally shot

An American missionary was fatally shot in Mexico on Wednesday, police said.

The preliminary investigation indicated that Nancy Davis, 59, and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando, Mexico, when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, the Pharr Police Department in Texas said in a statement. San Fernando is south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

"The gunmen were attempting to stop them and the victims accelerated in efforts of getting away from them," the police statement said. "At a certain point the gunmen discharged a weapon at the victim's vehicle and a bullet struck the victim Nancy Shuman Davis on the head."

Davis' husband, identified as Sam Davis by family friends, drove their truck "at high rate of speed" to the Pharr International Bridge, which crosses the Rio Grande. Nancy Davis was taken to a hospital in nearby McAllen, where she was pronounced dead about 90 minutes later.

Read the full story here about the missionary fatally shot in Mexico.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Missionaries • United States • Violence

October 27th, 2010
05:00 AM ET

Missionary builds flying car, FAA certifies it

Editor's Note: CNN Correspondent Kate Bolduan and Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi bring us this story from Dunnellon, Florida.

Sparks are flying as we walk into the airplane hanger. Steve Saint is sharpening a machete on an electric grinder.  He comes over to introduce himself wielding the knife he extols as both a tool and a weapon. But we've come to talk about something else he is working on, a flying car.

Saint heads i-tec, the Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center. He is working with the Waodani tribe at the edge of the Amazon in Ecuador to help them solve a transportation riddle plaguing hard to reach regions all over the world: What do you do when the road ends? His solution, build a flying car. So he and his team did.

See video of the flying car in action here.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Florida • Missionaries • United States

The story behind the Chilean miners' Jesus T-Shirts
October 14th, 2010
04:49 PM ET

The story behind the Chilean miners' Jesus T-Shirts

As miners were being pulled from Chile's San Jose mine Wednesday, most were wearing tan T-shirts over their coveralls. The Chilean government told reporters the green coveralls were designed to help absorb the sweat as they ascended to the top.

But Wes Little, a CNN editor/producer in Atlanta, wondered why the miners were wearing the T-shirt over their coveralls. He noticed a logo on the T-shirt's left sleeve for the Jesus Film Project.

Here's what we found:

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Chile • Christianity • Missionaries • South America

August 8th, 2010
03:53 PM ET

Dispatch: Church mourns congregant killed in Afghanistan

CNN producer Ross Levitt filed this report from an upstate New York church that lost a congregant in last week's attack on aid workers in Afghanistan:

More than 400 people gathered Sunday at Loudonville Community Church in Loudonville, New York, to honor Tom Little (pictured with wife Libby), an optometrist who was among 10 people in a medical team killed by gunmen in northeastern Afghanistan.

"Four weeks ago, Tom Little stood right here," an emotional Stan Key, senior pastor, told the congregation.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Christianity • Missionaries • Violence

August 7th, 2010
03:05 PM ET

Ten killed in Afghanistan worked for Christian group

The ten medical team members shot dead in Afghanistan Thursday were working for a Christian group, the International Assistance Mission. The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, accused them of carrying Bibles.

Hans Ronnlund, the assistant to the executive director of the mission group, denied statements by the Taliban that the medical staff was carrying Bibles. Ronnlund said the International Assistance Mission is a humanitarian development organization formed by various Christian groups, but said medical staffers do not carry Bibles.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Christianity • Missionaries • Violence

July 12th, 2010
08:04 PM ET

Church awaits word on members injured in Uganda bombings

Tim and Debbie Bingaman, whose foster son was injured in the Uganda blasts, reading the bible in Christ Community United Methodist Church.

CNN correspondent Mary Snow filed this report today from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania:

Members of the Christ Community United Methodist Church in rural Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania walked in and out of their church throughout the day, desperate for information about five fellow congregants injured in Sunday’s terror bombings in Uganda.

As some prayed, others checked their Facebook pages and emails for any updates. The pastor, the Rev. Kathleen Kind fielded a steady flow of phone calls from members and reporters. And the church updated its own mission website with the latest news.

The attack is testing the faith of a small town church that never thought terrorism would hit home.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Methodist • Missionaries • Uganda

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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