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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.

In addition to the American missionaries, a nun and a priest from Spain who worked in Liberia also contracted Ebola, two more victims in an outbreak that health officials describe as the largest and most complex in the history of the disease.

As of Saturday, 961 people have died, nearly all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 1,770 cases have been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

Heroic or foolish? 

In the United States, much of the attention last week focused on the missionaries, who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way.

Christians have long debated the effectiveness of missions, with some arguing that they can, at times, cause more harm than good – both to missionaries and the people they are trying to help.

But rarely has the debate ranged as far afield of Christian circles or become as bitterly divided as it has since the American missionaries' return to the United States.

Prominent Christians, such as R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Russell Moore, called Brantly and Writebol heroic.

The missionaries knew the risks of contracting Ebola but worked with patients, doctors and nurses to try to contain the outbreak, the evangelicals said.

On the other hand, real estate mogul Donald Trump tweeted that people who travel to foreign countries to help are "great" but “must suffer the consequences” of their actions.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was even more unsympathetic, saying Brantley’s health status had been “downgraded to ‘idiotic.’”

“Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa?” Coulter wrote. “The very first ‘risk factor’ listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola - an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate - is: ‘Travel to Africa.’”

Nancy Writebol's husband, David, who remains in Liberia, answered the critics on Friday.

Writebol said he knows that some think missionaries like his wife are "foolish, or worse," to "put everybody in danger by going" to places like Liberia.

"But it’s that very calling," he said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "that demonstrates the characteristics, the great things that Christ has done for humanity. He left heaven and he came to a place of suffering and trouble and went about doing good.”

The Great Commission 

Besides the personal pull described by missionaries like Brantly, for centuries Christians have followed a more general call to spread the Gospel through word and deed. Known as the Great Commission, it began when Jesus told the apostles to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Since then, millions of believers – from Baptists to Mormons to Jehovah’s Witnesses - have stuffed scriptures into suitcases and preached the Gospel in nearly every corner of the globe.

For centuries, serving those missions meant spending decades abroad, learning a culture and its language, and trying, with varying degrees of success, to convert native peoples to Christianity.

But short-term missions - often defined as less than two years - exploded in the 1970s and ‘80s with the advent of cheap and safe travel, scholars say. For evangelicals in particular, mission trips have become almost a rite of passage. In his 33 years, Kent Brantly had already served missions in Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nicaragua.

In doing so, Brantly is one of an estimated 1.6 million Americans adults who embark on short-term mission trips to foreign countries each year, according to Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow.

If domestic missions and Christians under 18 were included, that number would rise to about 2.4 million, said David Armstrong, executive director of Mission Data International.

It’s an indication of how seriously Christians take Jesus’ call to reach “all nations,” a task to which they bring ever-increasing technical sophistication.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, for instance, keeps tabs on the precise percentage of the world’s population who have been “evangelized.”

As of mid-2014, about 71% of the world has heard the Gospel through personal preaching, radio, television books or other media, the center says.

But not all missions are about evangelizing.

There are basically three types of missionaries, said Albert W. Hickman, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity: those who preach, those who do good works, and those who do both.

SIM, which Nancy Writebol joined in 2013, belongs in the last category.

'Do you mind if I pray with you?'

Originally know as Sudan Interior Ministry, the Christian group has been active in Africa since 1893, when two young Canadians and an American set out to preach the Gospel in sub-Saharan Africa.

Within months, the men contracted malaria. Two died, but one survived and went on to help lay the groundwork for the modern SIM, which now stands for the more general Serving in Mission.

“Even early on, our people were willing to sacrifice or to die for their faith,” said George Salloum, SIM USA’s vice president of finance and operations.

More than 1,600 SIM missionaries now work in 60 countries.

The majority are recruited online, a process that starts with questions for applicants like: Do you share your faith with others? Is prayer a regular part of your life? Are you disciplined, accountable? Have your really thought about how hard being a missionary will be?

The list of missions SIM offers is extensive – from a Bible school teacher in Mongolia to a water engineer in South Sudan. The group also sends medical professionals to mission hospitals and clinics throughout the world.

Before they travel, missionaries go through cross-cultural training, learning, for example, how close should they stand while taking to someone and how different cultures greet strangers.

Missionaries also are also trained in their most critical skill, Salloum said: How to provide practical help while simultaneously spreading the Gospel.

For instance, when a person suffers from an illness or injury, the medical missionary will approach and ask if they can help. “The missionary just shares something ... and then sometimes they’ll say, ‘Do you mind if I pray with you?’”

“People will say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And we tell them that’s what Christ did,’” Salloum said. “It’s a natural transition – someone who has a physical need then to have a spiritual need.”

That's precisely what Nancy Writebol did in Liberia, said the SIM executive. “She talked to children, she shared the Gospel. She was just available, there for the people. That was her world.”

Writebol and her husband are originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and have two adult sons, according to SIM.

In Liberia, before the outbreak, Nancy served as a personnel coordinator, guiding new missionaries as they entered the West African country. She also volunteered on the staff of ELWA hospital, where David Writebol worked as a technical services manager of the 100-building complex.

"We aren't going to stop our ministry – we believe we can serve wherever God sends us," David Writebol said on Friday.

Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian relief organization Brantly worked for, declined to speak to CNN.

David Armstrong, from Mission Data International, said the organization, which is headed by Franklin Graham, focuses chiefly on emergency aid, particularly the physical needs of native populations. But they also try to tend to spiritual needs, which means providing Bibles and setting up prayer meetings.

“They are sharing the Gospel, but it’s more of a one-on-one, person-to-person thing,” Armstrong said.

Good works (without preaching the Gospel) 

One of the world's largest faith-based organizations doesn't even like the "missionary" label, according to a spokesman, because of the word's association with proselytizing.

Though Catholic Relief Services says it is motivated by the Gospel to embody Catholic social and moral teaching, it does not preach to the people it helps.

In fact, you don't even have to be Catholic to work for Catholic Relief Services. Among its 4,500 workers are many Muslims, Hindus and members of other religions, said Bill O’Keefe, the organization’s vice president of advocacy.

“We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith," O’Keefe said. “We’re proud of that. We like to say that we assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.”

Founded in 1943, CRS has 4,500 workers more than 60 countries, including 250 CRS workers in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, the West African nations hit hardest by the latest Ebola outbreak.

“The biggest obstacles they’re facing is misinformation,” said CRS spokesman Michael Stulman, who was recently in Sierra Leone. “The people believe that Ebola is a curse or that it’s a lie made up by authorities.”

Meredith Dyson, CRS’s health program manager in Freetown, Sierra Leone, said her job is to get the public to stop believing those myths.

Some Liberians, for instance, believe that a soft drink can cure the disease, or that Ebola is a nefarious plot concocted by nongovernmental organizations and the government.

“People say don’t go to the hospital, you won’t come back because healthcare workers are injecting people and killing them,” she said.

“Every myth is born of some kind of truth – it is partly what they’re seeing – people are going to hospital and not coming home.”

Dyson, 31, studied public health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where she met people who worked for CRS. Though not Catholic herself, Dyson said the church's teachings on human dignity and social justice resonated deeply with her.

Describing the recent Ebola outbreak, Dyson's voice breaks as she recalls two CRS colleagues - both Africans - who died will trying to help others.

“The people who work in this setting are close knit,” she said. “They become your family. It can be really hard.”

Unexpected places 

Back in the United States, sitting in an isolation room at Emory University hospital, Brantly said he didn’t move to Liberia to fight Ebola, but that it became necessary after the outbreak there.

He said he held the hands of countless patients who died of the disease, and still remembers each of their faces and names.

Brantly's mission may not have been what he imagined when he spoke to Southeastern Church of Christ those many months ago, but his focus remains the same: going wherever God leads.

“One thing I have learned," Brantly said, "is that following God often leads us to unexpected places.”

- CNN Belief Blog

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

soundoff (2,880 Responses)
  1. LaBella

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/08/ebola_in_united_states_research_on_deadly_hemorrhagic_fevers_lassa_marburg.html

    August 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
    • austin929

      "So, sure, be concerned. But be rational as well. Yes, we know all too well that our public health agencies can f.ck up. I’m not saying there is zero chance of something going wrong. But it is low."

      if you can't trust the c.i.a. then who can you trust? chances low is oblivious to evil intent. if some were to crop up for the sake of a billion dollar vaccination. (not related to missionary activity)

      August 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
      • LaBella

        I think they were probably talking more CDC, who actually handle these things, more than the CIA, who gather the information on it.

        I don't trust hyperbolic mouth pieces and orgs like infowars and Drudge report.

        August 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
        • austin929

          I even trusted the onion! that hurt to realize it was a whatever you called it.

          ya know though, info wars is still going to break some hard realities that are true, but then they go over board with damaging conspiracy garbage. and drudge, they flash subliminal skulls, he is a skull and bones propagandist.

          I find both to be useful to find out how we are going to be manipulated, and also the gory truths that patriotic channels wont run.

          August 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • LaBella

          Austin, people who are naturally drawn to conspiracy theories will find Alex Jones credible.
          They found his absolute lies concerning Sandy Ridge to be credible, to the sorrow of the parents who suffered from the loss of their children...and driving his readers to send hateful mail to those same parents because they believe every lie that man utters.
          He doesn't even believe half of the junk he says. He isn't credible; he posts these outrages things for click air, which makes him money.

          If you want to believe his hyperbolic rants, that is fine.
          But I can't, and won't, take this odious man seriously.

          As for the Onion article, the title alone was a tip-off.
          But it is a good lesson: don't believe everything you read.

          August 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • LaBella

          Sigh. Auto correct strikes again.
          He does it for click bait.

          August 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
        • austin929

          what was the sandy ridges deal? I missed that.

          August 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  2. bostontola

    I don't share Dr. Brantly's belief in God, but I do recognize his courage and selfless contribution to his fellow humans. I regard him as a hero.

    As such, it's a no brainer to me to bring him home and care for him. We should do that for any citizen, not just heroes. To do otherwise would be cowardice on our part. The experts know how to minimize the risk and did. I am proud that we brought him back and demonstrated our priorities.

    August 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • new-man

      Unfortunately, I'm not surprised at how fearful most people are. Many are fed a daily diet of fear each day ( flu season, bird flu, monkey pox, h1n1 on and on) so it's not surprising they would display this irrational fear to 2 people carrying a virus that are both quarantined.
      Also, if many knew a bit more about ebola and how it's spread, they wouldn't keep nursing this unfounded fear.

      August 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        For once we agree.
        You might find this article interesting...in a weird sort of way but it speaks of the wrong info being out there: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/rick-wiles-links-obama-ebola-outbreak

        August 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • new-man

          TP,
          thank you.
          it's sad to think that anyone would even believe such a claim, but, unfortunately the ones who still believe he's not a citizen and that he is a muslim will readily devour this nonsense.

          August 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • austin929

          aside from any missionary...........there are billions of dollars to be made developing a vaccination. the media is not good.

          I don't have to go any further than the local state run politically whor'ed out Christian radio station.

          no one in the market can be trusted.

          August 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          new man: It is sad. It is people like that who create mass panic and unnecessary fear. He is a very poor rep for Christians.

          Austin: Coulter is a twit. Fortunately, the more she speaks the more people realize how truly clueless she is. Her and Trump should be dumped on an island together. Oh and we'll toss in Jenny McCarthy. Vaccinations have helped to eradicate or nearly eradicate many diseases and those fools opening their uneducated mouths are at the hub of bringing some of them back.

          August 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
        • LaBella

          I wonder if Rick Wiles is vying to fill Fred Phelps position?
          He sounds like a thourough idiot.

          August 10, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Well said.

      August 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
    • austin929

      I think ann coulter is also expected to be a comic. there is no other explanation that is valid.

      August 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
  3. bostontola

    “but when you connect the dots you see a grand design that God has used to draw my life in a certain direction.”

    Is there a God that leaves dots to be connected (and there's an enormous number of ways to connect them), or is this just another example of Apophenia/Patternicity?

    August 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
  4. atroyfoster

    Christian missionaries seek out the vulnerable and start grooming them.....kind of like the dirty old men who hang around playgrounds.

    August 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • austin929

      We seek one and all, and God has prepared the heart, or it has not been prepared.

      James 2 New International Version (NIV)

      Favoritism Forbidden

      2 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

      5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

      August 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
  5. goldwisdom2

    I would almost think that this piece is one written by an internet troll except it has the heading CNN on it. It appears to be written to incite controversy. I hope if something happens in this country(USA) that we can't control there would be compassionate people from another part of the world who would come and help us no matter what their motivation.

    August 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
  6. copernicus222

    It's great how they have stopped reporting actual news about the outbreak and they just give us this crap now.
    have to search for news about the outbreak via google now....CNN is quickly becoming hush-hush.

    August 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
    • bostontola

      This is not news, this is an opinion blog.

      August 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
    • austin929

      whataever happened to the results from the collapses in the air port and in new York?

      they also went hush on the airplane crash.

      August 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
      • LaBella

        It was widely reported, Austin.
        Please don't go Alex Jonsey on us.

        August 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
  7. mlw65

    I would say these people are heroic. They knowing put themselves at risk to help others. If you are one of those people that consider them foolish, do you also consider the US military foolish? Aren't they lauded as heroic for knowing putting themselves at risk? Why not these people? When we sent military overseas to fight there was an increase in Islamic extremist activity, does that not put us more "at risk"?

    August 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
  8. Reality

    Big hearts but severely brainwashed brains. Details previously presented.

    August 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
  9. twiz123

    I equate this to the people that decide to sail around the world alone...then get stuck and we the taxpayers have to pay millions of dollars to go save them. I have nothing against these missionary types and applaud them for their work. However they assume the risks by doing the activities they choose to do...and I see no reason to put the entire US population at risk because of their choices. What if that plane had engine trouble and went down over a major city? Blood and guts infected with Ebola would go everywhere. Just when you think you have everything checked and under control is when it usually goes off the rails. If they want to study Ebola so badly they should open a research hospital in Africa. When they have found the cure then they can give the hospital to the locals. It would cost a fraction of what an outbreak in the US would cost in dollars alone not even mentioning the lives lost.

    August 10, 2014 at 11:59 am |
    • barkomatic

      This post is nothing but hysterics. They aren't endangering anyone by being flown home in isolation. This point has been covered numerous times by several physicians who specialize in infectious disease as well as the CDC. But hey, don't pay attention to real science, just keep watching the SyFy channel.

      August 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
  10. gjk2

    Neither foolish nor heroic just naive. Went with good intentions but ill prepared for taking care of themselves and possibly therefore had little to offer the patients in terms of antiviral treatment. Just a feel good, dare devil mission that resulted in becoming the first and second Ebola infected patients to land on American soil. Hope they will have a full and speedy recovery and naturally cured to taken any Ebola patients arriving in the USA. Hopefully no more Ebola patients will arrive in the USA. I should be the responsibility of every country to NOT export Ebola to other countries by checking that their citizens traveling overseas do not have fever or other symptoms of Ebola.

    August 10, 2014 at 11:36 am |
  11. laceydon

    Brantly and Writebol did not set out to be heroes. Nor did they consult the social media to determine if their choices were wise. They simply heard God say go, and they went. They were prepared to lay down their lives because they understood that was what the One they followed asked them to do. If that is hard to understand, few understood Jesus either.

    As for endangering people in the US, they did not beg to be airlifted home. It was decision made by others and not only for the good of these two but so that they could be the test cases in the medical attack of the disease. Because they are in a research hospital we will learn more about how to treat, cure and prevent the disease. Those doctors who brought them back to Emory have taken every precaution. You all who are quaking in fear have more to fear from bird flu, seriously.

    Beyond that, why the grousing? Are you envious of the virtues these people and so many others like them display? Then do something virtuous. Get out from behind your computer screens and live for something worth living for.

    August 10, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • austin929

      A++

      Praise God. He uses His servants who suffer for others!

      August 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
  12. nikkitravis77

    I have no problem with people going and helping others. I have no problem with them coming home sick or not as long as proper protocols are taken to keep a virus such as this from spreading. The fear mongering is stupid. What i do have issue with are people automatically assuming that a health issue always guarantees a 'spiritual' need. When I was in hospital and going for surgery I answered the questions of "Are you religious? Do you wish to speak with a priest or layman? with, "No, I am an Atheist, they are not welcome." Only to wake up to some freak murmuring over my bed at 8 am! I asked him to leave. The next day I was approached again! I asked them to please note my wishes in my chart and to please not disturb me any more concerning the religious aspect. Again, before being wheeled in for surgery I was asked again if I wanted a prayer, I said, "No, I have made this obvious in my chart, please read it and stop asking me." After I was wheeled into the surgery dept I overheard a nurse say, "We should say a prayer for her, she doesn't believe!" Again, after coming off the anesthesia I was greeted again not by a nurse but by a priest asking if he could sit with me. I kicked him out! Finally, I had my husband place a note on my door stating, "If you are a member of the clergy or a priest you are not welcome in this room." Keep your religious crap to yourself.

    August 10, 2014 at 11:21 am |
  13. bostontola

    "We like to say that we assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.”

    If all Christians had this perspective, I'd love a lot more of them.

    August 10, 2014 at 11:16 am |
    • austin929

      preaching the word with the service.........I can see how that is not appealing, and an insult. But only to the flesh. I am sure you are acquainted with the scripture that deals with this matter. Correct?

      But the flip side to what you are saying, is for example, Children who's parents have never spoke the name Jesus to them. and the flip side would be serving, and never speaking his name.

      August 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
  14. backtopassion

    Completely heroic, and thanks to them he problem is not worst... Imagine if no one would be there to help contain this plague from spreading all over, they put their lives on the front lines of the virus for the survival of mankind. Think about it, you think by ignoring the issue and staying away from there will keep it from reaching us, bone up on your history and see how many plagues have wiped out societies... Thank god for these Missionaries, and god bless for their courage.

    August 10, 2014 at 11:05 am |
  15. moxbroker

    How is it heroic to bring Ebola to America? Couldn't we have treated these individuals in the place they got sick? I have yet to see a reasonable explanation as to why these two had to brought to America to be treated, aside from them being white Americans and not black Africans.

    August 10, 2014 at 10:41 am |
    • fgbndslndr

      Sooner or later, an unsuspecting traveller is going to get on a plane and arrive in America with Ebola. The expertise devolved under controlled conditions in Atlanta will protect other Americans in the future.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:58 am |
  16. brenna56

    These missionaries were foolish to travel there. But it was their choice, and theirs alone. If they had a calling, so be it. But they also knew the risks. Then after becoming ill with the deadly virus, they chose to come home and take a chance on infecting Americans. That was the foolish, irresponsible, selfish choice they made. And the other Americans did not matter to them. So, I see they decided to take a risk to help in Africa. And when they also became ill, they brought it home with them. This is unforgivable.

    August 10, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • fgbndslndr

      Christian Americans increasingly are using their belief in God to justify all manner of behaviours, including destroying the system of public education and legislating against their rights of others. They are responsible for the draconian anti-gay laws in Uganda. Perhaps bring Ebola back to the US isn't the most reckless thing they have done, and perhaps it's time for the country to wake up and to pay attention.

      August 10, 2014 at 11:02 am |
  17. jsiemon2002

    Social scientists are grudgingly acknowlegding that evangelical missionaries have had a profound impact on the development of democracy, literacy, education, mass printing, and voluntary societies in developing countries. see http://www.academia.edu/2128659/The_Missionary_Roots_of_Liberal_Democracy

    August 10, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • Dalahäst

      Check out this article:

      "Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good."

      http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/3502-matthew-parris-as-an-atheist-i-truly-believe-africa-needs-god

      August 10, 2014 at 10:32 am |
      • austin929

        thank God for Augustine

        August 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • austin929

          my ex room mate from south Sudan, who has a Christian name, he is a "lost boy". and his parents were killed. and they had to escape to ethopia, just the children left. and half of them died, from dysentery , some were ate by lions in front of the lad,

          and he says the reason that the north muslim clan attacked, his reasoning is that its because "the British colonized Sudan"

          We have got to learn how to appropriately reach people with respect.

          Can I ask, how it is that George Bush never learned this? and where do we go from here?

          August 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
  18. nancytoby

    I haven't seen – who paid the hundreds of thousands of dollars it must have cost to airlift the Americans out of there and bring them home?

    August 10, 2014 at 10:24 am |
    • new-man

      Samaritan's Purse paid – (headed by Franklin Graham.)

      Hope that Blessed your day tremendously.

      August 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
      • nancytoby

        Well at least it's a well-rated charity, but I wonder if the contributors knew that they would be supporting such an outsized investment in 2 individuals.

        August 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
        • new-man

          I am sure the contributors to Samaritan's Purse have the utmost confidence that their donations are well appropriated in whatever capacity the charity deems it fit to spend the donations.

          Dr. Brantley and Ms. Writebol are alive and will continue to work to save the physical life of others demonstrating the works and glory of God causing many to reign in this life and to come into eternal life – knowing God well and having an intimate relationship with Him. Not to mention, salvation, being reborn into the family of Christ.

          We are worth Christ Jesus, to God the Father – surely, the cost to transport 2 patients pales in comparison Christ, who He is and what He's done for us – freely, I might add.

          August 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
        • nancytoby

          Well, personally I think charity dollars might have been put to better use saving probably hundreds of ebola victims in Africa and nursing those 2 in place than a hugely expensive airlift and repatriation. But I guess God loves white people with US passports the most.

          August 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • new-man

          1. the charity dollars were and are being spent taking care of ebola patients.
          2. how many caregivers have since volunteered to fill the vacancy (created by these 2 caregivers illness) of caring for current ebola patients in Africa.
          3. there is no shortage of $ in this earth, however, there is a shortage of compassion.

          August 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
        • new-man

          nancy,
          there are some points you've made that I can concede; however I also do not know what goes on behind the scenes – why some decisions were taken and implemented. I'm sure even they perhaps would do some things differently. which things – I have no idea; but I know many times when we made decisions under difficult circu.mstances, looking back we always see ways things could have been modified.
          but your points are well taken.

          August 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
  19. ellabulldog

    It is great to help people in need. I sense the purpose here is not to help the people but to convert them to their religion or way of life. If someone is starving give them food. Don't use that as an opportunity to brainwash the people. If someone can't read teach them how. Don't have the bible be the book that they have to use to learn how to read. Just be honest about the real intention here.

    August 10, 2014 at 10:18 am |
  20. jvance83

    This is an "Eye of the beholder" discussion.

    August 10, 2014 at 10:14 am |
    • rubyrott

      One may live or die for his religious beliefs. That is the individual's choice. But these medical people also made a promise to administer to the sick and injured. They misused the resources intrusted to them, they let down those needing help who counted on them to pursue their own agenda. That is their mistake. They put themselves first, not others. That is selfishness.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:28 am |
      • fgbndslndr

        I'm curious as to how they misused resources entrusted to them, and how they let down those needing help.

        August 10, 2014 at 11:05 am |
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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.