‘That’s How Small My Faith Was’: Amber Brantly to Share Missionary Experience
April 9, 2015
Few women have been in Amber Brantly’s shoes—moving to a foreign country, nearly losing her 33-year-old husband to a deadly virus and attracting worldwide media attention in the middle of it all. But it’s the daily trials and transitions that Amber wants to speak about at the Billy Graham Library’s Ladies Tea and Tour April 18—and that’s something nearly all women can relate to, she said.
In 2003, Amber was on a mission trip in Honduras, serving as a nurse. She met Kent, a new medical school student, when his church group joined her team.
“I taught him how to measure blood pressure, and really I feel like the rest is history,” she said, laughing. The couple, now with a 4- and 6-year-old, will celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary next month.
But last summer, Amber wasn’t sure they’d make it to No. 7. They were facing the largest Ebola epidemic in history, affecting multiple West African countries, including Liberia.
The Brantlys had moved to Liberia about six months earlier after accepting a two-year missionary stint with Samaritan’s Purse in October 2013. The family had endured illness and several moves, and Kent’s job as a doctor was a daily challenge. Amber regularly witnessed dying moms and infants, “and that was before Ebola wrecked (Liberia’s) health system.”
She remembers crying to one missionary friend, asking why it was so hard.
“You’re suffering growing pains,” her friend told her. “The Lord is preparing you for something bigger.”
Amber’s response? “I remember saying, ‘I don’t want it. I don’t want something bigger. This is too much for me.’ … That’s how small my faith was.”
On July 26, 2014, Kent—who was serving as medical director for the only Ebola Treatment Unit in southern Liberia— was diagnosed with Ebola. Amber and the children had recently returned to the United States.
“While Kent was sick, my daily tasks changed a bit,” Amber said in a Q&A with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “Mainly, my tasks changed from housework, laundry, and child care to writing ‘statements,’ checking Kent’s Facebook page, privatizing what I could of my kids’ lives on the Internet, and waiting for Kent to call me. I woke in the wee hours to check my phone to see if he was alive another night.”
Yet even in the flurry of media coverage and her own feelings of helplessness, “I didn’t have to question where God was in that because He had been prepping me,” Amber said.
It’s been less than a year now since the Brantlys made news headlines around the globe, and with so many media appearances and inquiries since then, Amber said she prays a lot for humility and faithfulness to Christ in the public eye.
“It’s bizarre to us that so much attention has been put on Kent when there have been thousands of (Ebola) survivors in Africa and dozens in America. … We both feel a great responsibility to steward that in such a way that will be glorifying to God.”
For the Ladies Tea next weekend, Amber will talk about God’s faithfulness.
“I hope that they’ll leave encouraged,” she said of those who attend. “I’ll be speaking a lot to people who have suffered and lost and are in a transitional place because that’s where I am.”
In Liberia, when the Ebola crisis first hit, Amber busied herself not only with raising her children and providing a peaceful household for Kent to come home to, but with serving other volunteers—making them lunch, helping with their laundry and making sure they had enough filtered water to drink.
It’s that same heart of service that leaves 31-year-old Amber itching to go back to full-time missions.
The family is in Fort Worth, Texas, now, “but it is temporary,” she adds quickly. “We don’t plan on staying for long.”
While her children are in school and Kent, now 34, continues speaking about his experience and how we need to help others around the world, the Brantlys wait.
“We’re waiting on the Lord to tell us where we’re going next,” Amber said. She’s hoping for a summer trip back to Liberia, but after that, “we’ll see.”
Whatever happens next, Amber implores people to keep praying for those affected by Ebola. According to the World Health Organization, Liberia’s Ebola cases have drastically shrunk, but Sierra Leone and Guinea are still seeing new Ebola diagnoses every day.
“Keep on praying that the outbreak is brought to an end,” Amber said, “and the spread of Ebola is replaced with the spread of the Gospel of Jesus.”
Meet Amber Brantly and hear more of her story and encouragement. Purchase tickets for the Library’s Ladies Tea and Tour on Saturday, April 18.
You asked, she answered. Read a Q&A from Amber Brantly.
Check out the Samaritan’s Purse video below for more on the Ebola crisis and Kent Brantly’s own diagnosis.