A Young Man’s Life Is Changed Through Twitter and Greta Van Susteren

January 17, 2017 • Liberia
Sampson with Greta Van Susteren, Franklin Graham, and his cousin Isaac.
Sampson with Greta Van Susteren, Franklin Graham, and his cousin Isaac at ELWA Hospital in October.

Born with a severe facial deformity, 15-year-old Sampson has recently traveled to the U.S. for surgery

Sampson with his cousin Isaac and his sister.

Sampson with his cousin Isaac and his sister.

Life has not been easy for 15-year-old Sampson. Born in the jungles of Liberia, he has struggled his entire life with a severe facial deformity, the abandonment of his mother as an infant, and the death of his father from Ebola. Even with the losses and challenges that he has experienced, nothing has diminished his faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

A young man with a shy chuckle and infectious smile, he dreams of becoming a pastor one day.

“I want to be a pastor because I love God,” he said. “Since the beginning of this year, I have had a lot of pain, but God has kept me alive and helps me every day.”

Sampson studies the Bible and works to memorize verses. His favorite is Genesis 1:1. Reading has become more difficult over the years as his vision has slowly faded. Despite this setback, Sampson’s faith is not shaken. He worships in church services with his eyes closed and hands raised toward heaven as he sings songs like, “I am so grateful for what God has done for me.”

A sensitive boy deeply loved by his family, he introduces his cousins as siblings and frequently visits his extended family in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. He wears a cross bracelet and a matching necklace that were given to him by his “brother,” Isaac, his good friend and a distant relation of Sampson’s father. He currently lives with his grandmother, Grace, in a remote village and assists with her farm of cassava, potato greens, and corn.

Life would have continued on as normal for Sampson, if not for a family friend, a journalist, and social media.

A Chance Tweet

There are few surgical options available for children born with severe medical problems in Liberia. Though Sampson had surgery nine years ago on a medical hospital ship, the tumors on his face have continued to grow. His left eye is now completely obscured. The remaining sight he has in his right eye is diminishing due to a growth. Without surgery, there is a real possibility that Sampson will lose his sight.

Sampson received a warm welcome from his host family in Minnesota.

Sampson received a warm welcome from his host family at the airport.

To try to get help, Sampson’s cousin Isaac asked a Liberian friend living in the U.S. to see if there was anything he could do. Isaac’s friend, Jerome, saw his opportunity when MSNBC news anchor Greta Van Susteren announced her trip to Liberia for the dedication of ELWA Hospital. Jerome shared a photo of Sampson on Twitter and asked for help. Moved by his situation, Greta asked Samaritan’s Purse to track down the young man. Love Gibson, a Samaritan’s Purse coordinator for the cleft lip team, took on the task and located Sampson after reaching out to local communities.

After meeting Sampson in Liberia, Greta decided to help bring him to the U.S. for his much-needed surgery. Sampson has arrived in Minnesota with a guardian and is now awaiting surgery. He is staying with a local host family.

Please pray for Sampson, the doctors and surgeons, and the host family as a treatment plan is devised.

Follow Sampson’s journey to the U.S. below: