Acclaimed global evangelist Franklin is now spreading his message from behind the camera instead of the pulpit to uncover the tragic truth about Ebola and how the lethal virus nearly claimed the lives of two American aid workers in West Africa before they were able to return home for treatment.
Graham, who serves as president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, asserts that the documentary, Facing Darkness – which hits movie theaters across the nation in March – works to divulge the brutal reality behind the extremely contagious disease that went virtually unnoticed in America.
"Samaritan's Purse workers were holding the last line of defense in a crisis the world was largely ignoring," insisted Graham, who is the executive producer of the film. "Hundreds were dying and it was only growing worse.”
He contends that the story of the two medical missionaries stricken with Ebola breaks new ground on the mission field, where Samaritan’s Purse used all the spiritual and physical resources they could to get the servants of Christ home.
“When the disease struck Dr. Kent Brantly and hygienist Nancy Writebol, we knew we had to get them home for treatment,” Graham expressed on a press release introducing his latest film. “It was their only chance, yet it was something no one had ever done."
Fighting the odds
Filmed on location in Liberia and the United States, Graham’s documentary features interviews with those on the mission field who fought the lethal Ebola outbreak firsthand. It examines the lives of real heroes of the faith who risked their lives to fight one of the deadliest epidemics of the 21st Century – one that infected more than 28,000 in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where some 11,000 lives succumbed to the virus.
Facing Darkness takes the audience back two years ago to March 2014, when the Ebola outbreak started and spread into a raging epidemic four months later in June. At the time, the two featured missionaries were doing all they could to keep the disease from creating a genocide across the African continent.
“Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were in an ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, fighting the surge of the killer virus when they caught the disease themselves,” the documentary’s press release states. “The team at Samaritan's Purse worked around the clock toward the only hope for Brantly and Writebol. It was something that had never been done – evacuate the Ebola patients to the U.S. for treatment and cure.”
Faith overcoming fear
The story follows the harrowing quest to keep the Christian medical aid workers alive.
“The true story of Brantly and Writebol's evacuation, treatment and eventual cure unfolds side-by-side with an inspiring story of faith facing and overcoming fear,” the release added.
Describing his decision to remain in Liberia after contracting the virus – instead of immediately returning home – Brantly insisted that his faith at the time helped him to view his life in a whole new light.
"Faith is not something that makes you safe," Brantly shared. "You had to face death in the eye and decide, 'Who am I going to be today?'"
Brantly’s decision to stay was particularly heroic, especially considering the fact that escalating native opposition added to his perils.
“Complicating the situation – after years of civil war – the people of Liberia deeply distrusted any authority and went so far as to blame the aid workers for spreading the disease,” the documentary’s release explained. “Hospitals and people were attacked. Yet the Samaritan's Purse team continued to serve.”
Graham commended his organization’s commitment to selflessly stay in Liberia – regardless of the imminent dangers there.
"I think when there's a crisis, God wants us to be there," the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association expressed. "He doesn't want us to run away. God has put us there for a reason, and he expects us to do something about it."
As a result of the missionaries’ outreach, perseverance and God’s grace, Ebola was quickly defeated in Liberia.
“Eventually, a change in culture stemmed the spread of the disease, accomplished through a massive public health education program, in which Samaritan's Purse reached 1.5 million people,” the Christian aid group reported. “One year later, Liberia was declared Ebola-free.”
Already receiving the Accolade Global Film Competition’s Award of Excellence, Facing Darkness has the ultimate goal of inspire audiences to choose compassion over fear in service to others.