Prayers and Support for the People of India
We pray for the people of India as they face overwhelming sickness and death with the latest wave of COVID-19 to hit their country.
Faith Christian Church of India is a mission church in the Diocese of Missouri. The Rev. Clive Samson and the Rev. Sujanna Raj report many in their congregation have family members and friends in India who are sick or have died.
To help support the ongoing medical efforts, The Diocese of Missouri opened a fund to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts in India earlier this summer. Thanks to the generosity of members throughout the diocese, we sent a check for $4,037.83 to the Diocese of Vellore to support the mission hospitals that are treating COVID patients. We thank everyone who donated to this cause.
A reflection from the Rev. Clive E. Samson & the Rev. Sujanna Raj
Faith Christian Church of India
While I was standing on the line at the Shrewsbury post office, on April 10, 2021, I noticed so many missed calls from India on my cell phone from a same number, I realized there was something wrong. I came out of the post office when I was called again from the same number. The person who called me said, ‘I am Shirley, and I am the sister of Sherine Paul, who is your Bishop’s Warden.” She said, “Pastor, my dad just passed away after battling COVID for the last three days, and I want to communicate this bad news to my brother in your presence, Can you please go to his house as soon as possible?’”
Rev. Sujanna and I rushed to his house in Maryland Heights. When I intimated to Shirley that we are at his brother’s house, she called and told this news that was heartbreaking and most perturbing ever in his life. Sherine was shattered, and he desperately wanted to immediately leave for India, but it was impossible -- Mumbai, his state, was in complete lockdown. His family was pleading with him not come because the COVID-19 second wave was raging. As asked by the family, we were trying to take care of Sherine and as he grieved. His little sister, Shirley, had to travel six hours to the hospital where her dad died and complete all the formalities on behalf of the family. All the other family members, along with Sherine, were watching desperately -- wanting to be there at the burial, but had to watch helplessly - Clive
That was just the beginning. We did not realize that this situation was going to be enduring, with many more families losing their beloved ones in India. The Indian variant of COVID-19 (B.1.617) has devastated the country. More than 30-million cases have been reported, with more than 418,000 deaths. Every Indian knows, as the BBC reported, that what the Indian media reveals is much less than the actual number, as the truth is always suppressed by ruling governments over what and how much people should know. It looks like things are getting slightly better, but irremediable damaged was caused to so many families socially, psychologically, and economically. Every single family that we know is affected in some way or the other, as somebody died in their family, or office, or community. In our state Tamil Nadu- Chennai, one of the Southern States in India, possibly every third person is affected with COVID-19.
As of now, with whomever we talked to, people are scared -- who is going to be the next to get affected or die in their family? The situation is so appalling, as we are incapable to give decent burial to our beloved ones. We have witnessed bodies being thrown into rivers, cremated at the road pavements, and had to wait for hours and days to find a burial ground. People are dying, families are crying. There's no time to rest and grieve for the first liners and doctors. Everything seems to be not enough, and we do not know when this will stop. We continue to remain desperately helpless, but to seek God’s mercy and compassion for deliverance and healing upon our nation.
Unavailability of oxygen, shortage of COVID medicines, and hospitals unable to treat the enormity of COVID patients were among the reasons so many have died. However, individuals, organizations, and the churches that work among the poor and support the less privileged have identified and recognized the helpless conditions of these people as they were neglected to suffer and die. Whatever may be the reason, the country now must face this unbelievable loss of life. Tragedy is a shameful and painful thing. Whether it was the bad governance, or careless of people, or religious madness, the fact is everyone must join hands in fighting this situation.
Apparently, the Church of South India and the Christian Mission Hospitals in the Diocese of Vellore, which is dedicated to serve the lower class, outcasts, and the poor, have joined this pandemic relief work to help the local government and other hospitals to serve the COVID-affected and their families. These mission hospitals and the CSI dioceses have opened their churches, schools, and other institutions for COVID patients to be treated. They are also helping the hospitals to get the medicines, oxygen, beds, and are making sure COVID vaccinations are available to as many as possible. Diocesan school buses have turn into ambulances or beds for COVID patients and many retired and new nurses are hired to help the hospitals. Groups are providing help to families facing economic and social problems, either because somebody died in their family or because of the persisting complete lockdowns in the Southern States of India. Overall, help is needed to treat the sick and dying, ensure decent burial, and provide a living for the lost.
We lost our family members, friends, colleagues, priests, and so many others known to us directly or indirectly. While we were writing this article, we saw this shocking news: a young priest who is only 31, father of a 2-year old child, and son of our beloved senior pastor in the diocese just passed away. So, it is not over…. and when it is over so many known to us are not going to be with us, and a sure thing is, it is not going to be the same for many of us. There is a forthcoming challenge to combat once the COVID-19 second wave is over -- the numbers of widows, parentless, orphans, unemployed individuals, and destitute families have increased drastically.
Faith Christian Church of India, a Mission Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, is so grateful to the Diocese, Bishop Deon K. Johnson and all the Episcopalians for extending your prayers and support. "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
Please see the video below for more information and facts -FCCI Covid@2021