Eight evacuees from Liberia are calling Steele Creek home for now, as they await word on their fellow missionary battling the Ebola virus.
SIM, an international Christian mission of nearly 3,000 workers in 65 countries that’s based off Choate Circle, evacuated two adults and six children Aug. 3 to temporary housing at the Steele Creek facility. None of them are infected. The organization didn’t make the evacuees available for interviews.
“Those returning to the U.S. need a temporary sanctuary where they can rest, relax and be loved on by other members of the SIM family,” SIM USA President Bruce Johnson said in a statement. “We ask that their privacy be protected.”
Nancy Writebol, 59, an American missionary who contracted Ebola in Liberia, returned to the country Aug. 5 for treatment Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Her condition was serious, but stable.
Writebol served on a joint team with Dr. Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse, another international relief organization based in North Carolina. Brantly arrived in the country Aug. 2 after contracting the disease on the same containment plane that carried Writebol. Brantly, 33, from Texas, is being treated at Emory.
“We are so grateful and encouraged to hear that Nancy’s condition remains stable and that she will be with us soon,” Johnson said.
SIM is following protocols by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. All personnel pulled out of Liberia were cleared by infectious disease experts there to fly on commercial flights. All received medical checkups upon return. Apart from Writebol, no other SIM personnel show symptoms of infection, according to the group.
All nonessential personnel has left the country, but SIM is sending another American missionary to help treat Ebola patients at a 130-acre campus in Monrovia, Liberia.
“Our hospital (there) is led by capable Liberian doctors, administrators and staff,” Johnson said.
David Writebol, husband of Nancy, shared his thoughts Thursday on a phone call with Johnson. Writebol talked about seeing his junior high sweetheart “on the brink of death and know there was nothing I could do to prevent that.” He talked about pacing the floors of the small apartment where he’s staying, but also the “overwhelming sense of peace and God’s grace.”
“I’m not abandoned,” he said. “God is right here with me.”
Writebol said some could question why he and his wife went to serve in such a dangerous area, but that choosing not to help people in need would be a mark against the humanity of people there and here.
“It is that very calling and very sending and very going that demonstrates the characteristics of the great things Christ has done for humanity,” Writebol said. “If our Lord has done that, then we willingly and gladly will do that so others might hear about Christ.”
SIM, originally Sudan Interior Mission, was founded 120 years ago and is now a global relief mission.