Religion

Will Franklin Graham’s movie about deadly Ebola virus provide the inspiration he hopes?

Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol and her husband David speak during a press conference at the SIM headquarters in south Charlotte in September 2014.
Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol and her husband David speak during a press conference at the SIM headquarters in south Charlotte in September 2014. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Before July 2014, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly went courageously but quietly about their work.

She was a Charlotte-based medical missionary worker; he was a doctor for Boone-based Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief agency.

Then both contracted the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, a poor country in West Africa. Suddenly their fate was the subject of international headlines and congressional hearings.

The harrowing story of how they survived this deadly disease is the basis for “Facing Darkness,” a film that will be shown March 30 in more than 700 theaters in 600 cities, including Charlotte.

Demand for tickets have been brisk enough that it’ll also be shown April 10.

Produced, written, shot and edited by Samaritan’s Purse, this is the first time the international charity – often the first group to be on the ground after a natural disaster – has released a film in theaters.

And Franklin Graham, who heads the charity, said he hopes the 108-minute movie will inspire some viewers into action.

 ‘Facing Darkness’ is a testimony to what God can do and will do,” he said in a statement. “I hope that out of this movie, there will be an army of young people who will say yes to missions. It’s an incredible story.”

Ebola killed nearly 5,000 people in Liberia before it was halted. After they contracted the disease, Brantly and Writebol were flown by Samaritan’s Purse from the ELWA Hospital in Liberia, were they worked, to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, where they were treated around the clock by teams of doctors and nurses.

Writebol, who later returned to Liberia with her husband, David, will be at the movie’s showing March 30 in Atlanta.

“My great hope for the film is that people haven’t forgotten the Liberians or what has happened and that people would not only continue to pray for Liberia,” as well as donate their money and time to help, she said in a statement released by SIM, the Charlotte-based USA, the Charlotte-based mission group that sent the Writebols to Liberia.

Her other hope, Writebol added, is that God will use the film to increase faith. This story is “his story, not ours,” she said.

In the Charlotte area, “Facing Darkness” is scheduled to be shown at: Phillips Place, Stonecrest at Piper Glen 22 and Starlight Stadium 14, all in Charlotte; Concord Mills 24 in Concord; Birkdale Stadium 16 in Huntersville; Franklin Square Stadium 14 in Huntersville; Manchester Stadium 14 in Rock Hill; and Tinseltown in Salisbury.

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