‘Facing Darkness’: Ebola Film Tells Story of Choosing Compassion Over Fear

By   •   March 9, 2017

Facing Darkness tells a true story of faith in action as a team of mission workers in Liberia fought the most widespread outbreak of Ebola in history.

Update: Originally a one-night event, Facing Darkness will now be shown a second night due to an overwhelming response in ticket sales. The film hits theaters Thursday, March 30, and Monday, April 10. 

Millions of people watched on TV and online as Dr. Kent Brantly slowly stepped out of an ambulance in Atlanta, covered head to toe in a white hazmat suit. Two days earlier, he lay in a bed in Liberia, dying of Ebola.

“Faith is not something that makes you safe,” Brantly says in an upcoming documentary, Facing Darkness. In fact, he says, it was his faith that led him to have compassion on Liberians suffering from a cruel—often fatal—disease, and which ultimately meant watching himself go through the same things his patients experienced.

>> Get tickets to see Facing Darkness on March 30 or April 10 at a theater near you.

“This story is timeless because it’s really the story of the Good Samaritan … set against the backdrop of Ebola,” said Arthur Rasco, who, over a two-year period, directed and produced the movie.

The film by relief organization Samaritan’s Purse—who Dr. Brantly was serving with at the time of his diagnosis—follows a team of people who selflessly treated those left dying literally on the side of the road.

Kent Brantly and wife, Amber, stand at podium, doctors and nurses behind them
Kent Brantly addresses a crowd at Emory University Hospital following his recovery from the deadly Ebola virus. His wife, Amber, stood by his side.

While Dr. Brantly shocked millions by emerging from the ambulance on his own two feet, many people are unfamiliar with all the puzzle pieces that came together leading up to it.

“This is the story behind the hours and days that it took to get there,” Rasco said.

>> Get group tickets to see Facing Darkness.

Among those featured in the documentary are Dr. Brantly’s colleague Nancy Writebol, who also got Ebola, along with other Samaritan’s Purse staff involved in the Ebola crisis, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and a Liberian nurse and single mom who contracted the disease.

Franklin Graham also shares his side of the story as president of Samaritan’s Purse, faced with the possibility of losing two members of the medical staff. He gets teary eyed, remembering the emotional stress of trying to care for them from thousands of miles away amid a terrifying, destructive disease.

“I think when there’s a crisis, God wants us to be there. He doesn’t want us to run away,” Franklin Graham says in the film. “Samaritan’s Purse looks for ways to get in the middle of it. Wherever we go in life, when we see people that are in need, God has put us there for a reason, and He expects us to do something about it.”

Which brings us to the heart of the movie: choosing compassion over fear—just as the Good Samaritan did.

>> Follow Facing Darkness on Facebook.

At a special advance screening of Facing Darkness, the audience shook their heads or gasped at tragic scenes and statistics they’d never seen or heard before. Some wiped away tears at moving stories of those left behind after the disease took their family members.

“Ebola was, in many ways, three years ago,” Rasco said, “but in some ways, it was just yesterday. You talk to Ebola survivors, Ebola widows, who’ve lost their whole families from it, and once they start telling you their stories, the tears just start running down their faces.”

Nancy Writebol hugs her husband, David
Nancy Writebol serves with SIM, an organization that worked closely with Samaritan’s Purse to combat Ebola. Writebol, pictured with her husband, David, survived the deadly disease.

Many Liberians are still stigmatized if they’ve had Ebola, he said, or if they have family members who died of it. People there still fear the disease.

It was August 2014 when Dr. Brantly left Liberia, bound for Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where he ultimately recovered from Ebola. He didn’t return to Liberia until the following year to visit his staff and thank them for their physically and emotionally hard work.

Rasco went along for footage, and together, the pair visited the same room Dr. Brantly was confined to when he contracted Ebola.

“He said, ‘Arthur, the whole time I had Ebola, I never cried,’” Rasco recounted. “He said, … ‘That first night I got back in this room, I cried. … Last time I was here, I didn’t know if I would see my wife again.’”

Bill Coger, the movie’s executive director, has seen the film many times now and said he gets emotional every time.

“I would only hope I could be anywhere near what these people did, showing compassion,” he said, reflecting on the Samaritan’s Purse team in Liberia.

For weeks after the first Ebola cases were recorded in late 2013, the impact of the disease was relatively ignored around the globe, leaving few to respond to what became the most widespread outbreak of the disease in history.

With little trust in the government and health care system in Liberia, the Samaritan’s Purse medical team was exhausted and overwhelmed with the epidemic.

Kevin Adamson, creative director for Facing Darkness, said the team who was on the ground during the hardest days of the outbreak poured their time into this movie. They gave hours of their time, he said, to tell the story and “show what God did through them.”

The documentary shares how the team returned time after time to prayer, relying on God for strength. It lays out a series of events—some heartbreaking, some joyful—that all came together in His miraculous timing.

“We wanted this story to be a testimony of God’s goodness and of His faithfulness,” Rasco said.

He also hopes it will “inspire a new army of Dr. Kent Brantlys, a new generation of missionaries to go out in the mission field—whether that’s the mission field in Africa, in Iraq … or the folks across the street, down the hall, that maybe we haven’t engaged with.”

Get tickets now to see Facing Darkness, in theaters Thursday, March 30, and Monday, April 10.


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  1. king B. Johnson says:

    10 days from today, this is going to be an experience for so many all across the country!-) #LightAlwaysWins!-)

  2. Dee Foreman says:

    Praise God for this miracle and the people like Dr. Brantly and his crew that chose to be used by God to help these people and help us to see that God still performs miracles. That God through these miracles causes people to make a decision-will I believe God or will I turn away from Him. Praise God for this story and for Samaritan’s Purse to uphold and support God in His work!

  3. iAM born again says:

    The doctor was 33 years old with Ebola, the same age as the Lord Jesus. A life devoted to serving the Lord is hard to find in many people and we need more. Instead of typing it out here, please look up Luke 10:27-37 NKJV. Repent is the message given to me by the Lord in “… the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:38-45 NKJV) revealed on 5/12/16= 33.

  4. Joyce Paul says:

    God shows His Unconditioned Love through His children. Glory to God! Amen.

  5. Daphne Privett says:

    have faith