By Mark Ellis
Woman’s community ravaged by Ebola but her prayers save herself and her son
Dorothy Sawer contracted the deadly disease Ebola and came out the other side, while all around her – even doctors – fell.
Dorothy lives in a one-room tin house with holes in the walls in a crowded section of the capital of Liberia. Her most-prized possession is a well-worn Bible, which she wields like a sword – along with fervent prayer – as her town is decimated by the outbreak.
"Only God knows where we are heading to now," says Dorothy, 48.
Dorothy is an abandoned wife caring for six children in impoverished circumstances – but she has faith.
That faith – in the middle of the devastating epidemic – is often ridiculed by her neighbours. She told The LA Times: "My neighbours get angry. People laugh at me and mock me."
Perhaps it's easy to understand their resentment of Dorothy's faith, when all around them is a living hell.
When Dorothy was ten years old, she had her first personal encounter with God. She saw what she believes was an angel.
She then began to receive messages from God for people close to her. As a result, Dorothy might warn them not to take a certain road on a particular day. "People didn't listen. There would be consequences," she noted. (Her former husband was attacked by thieves after he ignored her warning.)
Some of her friends began to recognise her spiritual gifts. Four years ago, she joined the prayer team at Conqueror's Tabernacle, led by Pastor Varney Garpou.
Although panic gripped Liberia as Ebola killed thousands, Dorothy says: "I wasn't afraid because I believed God was with me."
Pastor Garpou's wife, Willet, a nurse, couldn't stand by and let people die, so she treated an infected neighbour with injections for a week. Two weeks later, Willet developed symptoms herself.
Dorothy prayed with Willet morning and night. She helped her dress, and even touched her feet. But Willet died at home, and within days, Dorothy was praying for Pastor Garpou. But he too died.
She wondered why God did not heal a man like her pastor, but soon Dorothy had to turn her prayers to herself. She fasted and prayed for three days, but her symptoms kept getting worse, so she left her children in the care of her oldest son Tim, 25, and went to an Ebola treatment unit.
Even when they confirmed she had Ebola, she says she felt no fear or doubt. She was convinced that if she continued to pray, she would survive. The first thing she requested at the treatment centre was her Bible.
The worst-case scenario she faced would be heaven, rejoicing at being with her Lord for eternity, she reasoned.
As she lay in bed, with her temperature soaring, her body sweating and shaking, she felt like her torso was on fire. "It was the worst sickness I ever had."
Then something remarkable happened. Just as she had experienced a visitation in her youth from a heavenly messenger, she had a personal encounter with God as she hovered between life and death.
"One night I felt a hand patting me on my shoulder," she recounts, well aware that no one touches Ebola patients. "I don't know who touched me. I think it was the Spirit of God."
The next morning, she was healed! She recovered as quickly as she *had fallen ill.
Rejoicing in God's goodness to her, she jumped out of bed that morning and marched around the clinic, urging the other patients to have faith in God.
She began to hold services at the clinic, with hymns and bold prayers for healing. Even the nurses in their protective suits joined in, clapping and singing. Dorothy also helped to feed and care for children whose parents or siblings were sick with Ebola.
A few days later, she discovered her oldest son, Tim, had contracted Ebola. He went for treatment, and for weeks, she heard nothing. She prayed fervently for her son's survival.
By God's grace and mercy, *her prayers were answered and her son returned home – completely healed.•