Tablet Local

Fort Worth church prays for former member stricken with Ebola virus

The congregation at Southside Church of Christ left Wednesday night Bible study with yellow ribbons that were paper-clipped to cards bearing a photo of a smiling young physician who used to attend the church.

They were encouraged to tie the ribbons to their vehicles or backpacks to show concern for Dr. Kent Brantly and to pray for his full recovery.

The card quotes I Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Brantly, 33, contracted the Ebola virus while serving with a Christian relief organization in Liberia. Brantly, his wife and two children attended the church on Hemphill Street south of the Medical District for about five years.

Church elder Kent Smith said he received a text from the organization, Samaritan’s Purse, a few minutes before he was to speak Wednesday night. Brantly is doing slightly better, the text said, but “he’s not out of the woods yet,” Smith relayed.

Brantly’s wife, Amber Brantly, emailed Smith Tuesday morning and said she just wants everyone to know that “Joy follows suffering and life follows death.”

Smith said he first met the Brantly family over dinner in the church’s Fellowship Hall several years ago. In the same room Wednesday night, the congregation read Scripture, sang a cappella and said several prayers for the Brantly family, a colleague who also has Ebola and the people of Liberia.

Speakers commended Brantly for trading his comfortable American life for one that required hours of work that exposes him to such deadly disease in the equatorial heat of West Africa.

Brantly is in an Ebola isolation unit in ELWA Hospital in Monrovia receiving IV fluids, pain management and other supportive care, a Samaritan’s Purse spokesperson told the Star-Telegram Wednesday morning.

The other American, Nancy Writebol, is in Liberia as part of a joint Serving In Mission/Samaritan’s Purse team. She is in the same condition as Brantly, the spokesperson said.

Amber Brantly and their children, ages 3 and 5, are staying in an undisclosed location in Abilene to protect their privacy. The Brantly family will not speak to the media and asks that the family’s privacy be respected, she has said.

She and her children are under a 21-day fever watch, although officials have said they do not believe the family was exposed to Ebola, she has said.

No conclusions have been reached as to how Brantly was exposed, according to Samaritan’s Purse.

Brantly was originally in Liberia to serve as a general practitioner and wound up directing the hospital’s Ebola clinic. He wore full-body protective gear in the equatorial heat for as much as three hours at a time to treat patients.

Many precautions against contagion were taken, including the suits and spray-downs with chlorine baths.

Brantly completed his residency in family medicine at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth.

Dr. David McRay, who worked with Brantly at JPS, said this week that “it’s usually in the second week of the illness that people are either recovering or not — and most not. My thought is, we’ll know something next week.”

Star-Telegram writers Bill Hanna, Diane Smith and Judy Wiley contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.