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15 September 2021

Overwhelmed by Coronavirus


South East Asia has suffered intensely from Coronavirus, especially the Delta variant. CMS workers who serve with university students and medical graduates in the region describe the impact of COVID-19 on their community. 

A community in crisis 

Overwhelmed. It’s a word we had rarely heard our friends use until this last year. South East Asian people are generally used to uncertainty, disasters and trauma. But recently, this term has been used more and more to describe the situation in the hospitals, and how people, especially health professionals, are feeling. The massive spike in cases we have experienced is way beyond what the health facilities can cope with. 

We thought January 2021 was bad, until the Delta variant began spreading in June, which has placed a huge burden on health services. Dozens of our friends are sick and most of us know someone personally who has died. There was a lot of effort to slow the spread so that the system wasn’t overwhelmed but sadly too many factors combined to cause this massive spike. 

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:22-26 

Knowing how to serve 

I struggle some days with the fact that during a pandemic I’m not able to help in a health facility, especially when they’re calling for more volunteers. I remind myself that even if they allowed foreigners, they only want doctors aged under 40 since they’ve already lost more than 1000 health workers to COVID.  

But other days God reminds me of the specific tasks that he has for me right now: getting public health information out there to limit the spread, giving advice for the many trying to avoid going to a health facility or who can’t get into one, caring for the doctors, sending packs to people in isolation. And getting a vaccine myself, which hasn’t been easy!  

One day 63 people died from COVID in our main hospital, 33 of those in just a few hours when the central oxygen supply ran out. Recently they’ve limited use to make it last longer, but it wasn’t enough.  

Listening to God’s prompting 

The next day I had a clear and strong urge to send a message to a doctor I know who is a final year paediatric registrar at that hospital. We usually touch base every few months. I wanted her to know I was praying for her.  

She wrote back and asked, ‘Did you hear something about me?’ I said no, but that I just felt God prompted me to pray for her at that moment.  

It turns out she had just hours earlier been diagnosed with COVID, her X-ray showed pneumonia and even more concerning a mass of some sort, unrelated to COVID. She was alone, in isolation because of COVID, and awaiting a hospital bed. She had just got off the phone from a tearful call with the radiologist.  

After a bit of back and forth texting, she finished by saying how grateful she was that God had answered her cry in an unexpected way. Later that day we sent a COVID care pack, full of snacks, vitamins and other supplies. It was the ‘Our Daily Bread’ book she thanked us for first. It happened to be out of date, but her comment was, ‘His truth is never out of date’. 

Please pray for our region at this devastating time — for protection, wise use of resources, energy for health professionals, comfort for the grieved, persistence for the frustrated. Pray for continued health for us, as so many people we know are sick right now. We know the hospitals are full, and we need to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. 

PRAY 

Pray for South East Asia as it suffers from the impacts of COVID-19, and protection over CMS workers. Pray for an easing of case numbers, the distribution of vaccines and for God’s people to bring light and hope during this difficult time.