Dr. Kent Brantly attended ACU Homecoming this weekend for the first time since he graduated in 2003, but he didn’t come just to reconnect with alumni; he came to share with students about his experience with the Ebola virus.
Kent was the Grand Marshall of the Homecoming parade on Saturday morning.
Brantly spoke in Chapel on Friday morning. Then, he and his wife, Amber (’06), spoke in two afternoon sessions with students and in a public question-and-answer session with Dr. Randy Harris in Moody Coliseum.
Harris, instructor of Bible, missions and ministry, asked the Brantlys about the crisis in West Africa, Ebola’s spread to the U.S. and their story of faith. Kent and Amber both insisted that, in spite of their journey, they are just regular people.
“We’ve been labeled as narcissistic idiots, and we’ve been labeled as heroes, and we don’t feel like either,” Kent said. “We’re just two ACU alumni who were seeking to be faithful to God’s call in our life.”
For Kent, 33, that call was to be a medical missionary in West Africa. He was in Liberia when the Ebola outbreak began in April. After treating thousands of patients suffering from the deadly disease, he contracted Ebola on July 23. The Brantlys have been in the national spotlight ever since.
Kent said he was unaware of media reports when he was sick in Liberia and when he arrived in America.
“This is not about me,” he said. “This is about our great, loving, compassionate God who has called us to love our neighbors. This is about the more than 3,800 people who have died from the Ebola virus disease in West Africa.”
He said there has been so much media attention on the Ebola case in the U.S., and that while those who have been in contact with the patient need to monitor their symptoms and cooperate with authorities, the rest of us don’t need to be afraid.
“We’ve had a national frenzy about one case of this disease, while the World Health Organization says there have been over 8,000 cases in West Africa in the last 10 months,” he said. “We need to stop worrying about the irrational and start figuring out how to love our neighbors now to effectively end this outbreak in West Africa.”
Harris said in some ways, they have become the faces of what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
“It’s a huge responsibility, and I don’t want to treat it as a burden, but it’s heavy,” Amber said. “So many people have prayed for us and prayed for Kent. We need those prayers to continue that we steward this responsibility and do it well.”
When asked, “What’s next?” Kent answered, “We don’t know.”
He said for now they are focusing on being parents to their two children, ages 3 and 5.