Tonight we had the privilege to meet several supervisors of the EMS station at Bronxcare Hospital in the South Bronx. The four guys working with ACR (Anabaptist Covid-19 Response) have been bringing meals for healthcare workers and, especially with some of the EMS stations, have had some good interactions. Those four guys are leaving The Bronx tonight and a new team of helpers will be around for about two weeks yet. Both EMS supervisors have had 9 + years of experience, and they both said that the last month and a half have had more activity that a ten year career would have had in normal EMS protocol. In fact, the one day in early April they had more cardiac arrest calls for their 36 EMS workers (in one day) than they would have had in a normal month in the past year. We got to talking about the “hoaxers” out there who say this COVID-19 situation is all a hoax, and that really set them off. Jessica and Jeremy are very convinced that, given the enormous call volume that they (South Bronx) and their compadres in other boroughs have had, the NYC hospitalization counts AND death counts are under-reported. They believe that, when this all clears and a closer look at death records and hospitalization records occurs, the counts will go up in all categories. It is their belief that the numbers were not all being reported because it was so scary what was happening at the peak here in NYC. Another belief of both of these EMS supervisors? We are not yet in the clear. Prepare for the second wave.
Jeremy extended his thanks to the network of people who have given to, helped prepare, and distribute the meals for healthcare workers. It was good to hear the heartfelt thanks from both of them.
As for the food box distribution, we have reached critical mass and may implode if we are not careful. There are boxes going to Queens and Brooklyn, and churches there are handling those distributions, but one friend from Queens told me that they can’t keep up with the demand there either. The needs for food all around us is so real and overwhelming that I honestly do not know what our next best step is here in The Bronx as ACR (Anabaptist Covid Response) begins to phase out in the next two weeks. I believe we will try to continue some kind of food box distribution for at least the next few months, Lord willing. For example, Brothers Ike & Stan brought 20 boxes to a local community center last week that were distributed in about 15 minutes, and Ike had to play umpire with the last box to stop a food fight. He took down ten names for the next food distribution at that site. We brought 30 boxes the next time and they were also gone in minutes, and we had another ten people sign up for the next delivery. Yesterday we brought forty boxes and gave them away and 19 people signed up for the next delivery. I had a list of 30 people who called my phone in the previous three days, so some of the guys delivered those boxes. Those calls to my phone are coming mostly from Spanish-speaking residents, so I am trying to get a local Spanish pastor to get involved so he could be available for ministry beyond the food needs. For linguistic comedy, I should record some of those painful calls involving my butchered Spanish trying to communicate, and the occasional broken English coming from the callers requesting food. Sure, some of these calls may not be real needs, but many of them have lost jobs, some of them are single mothers with children and no more work, and some of them are desperate for help.
Our friend Brendan delivered a few boxes today to people who are on a caseload of his neighbor who is an ACS (Administration for Children’s Services) worker. He told me that at the one place the door was opened and he looked in and saw children in the apartment, no furniture anywhere that he could see, and several adults strung out, likely on drugs. He says he thought to himself that this family needs a lot more than a box of food.
Jesus told his disciples “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. “ This was in response to the criticism directed at Mary for pouring an expensive bottle of perfume on his feet. I think one take-away from Jesus' comment is that extravagant worship of the Lord is fitting even if there are needs around us. I also think that, this side of heaven, we will not be able to eradicate world poverty. We will always have the poor with us. Distributing food boxes alone will not resolve the hunger problem, the homeless problem, and the global economic destruction. But as each child of God does his or her part in considering how to GIVE to church, family, friends, neighbors, and strangers during this crisis, the KINGDOM of God will advance. We preach the gospel, we live the gospel, and we give the gospel. Christians everywhere have an amazing opportunity to repent, to recommit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and to GIVE until it hurts—and then until it tickles.
I’ve been reading through Revelation, and some of those four horsemen of Revelation 6 seem real and current, even if they may be representative of something figurative. In my humble opinion, this is not the time to try to change the politician’s minds or to try to shape policy around this. I do not like that so many people are making more money now collecting unemployment than they were while employed. I dislike the 2.2 trillion dollar bailout. Politics surrounding COVID-19 has become even more polarized, so what will demonstrations or political postings serve except to populate our echo chamber, or make us aware of the so-called “toxic” people who disagree with us or make us mad? How now shall we live? With love and truth.
It’s a good time to be alive, but it’s a terrible time to die. The needs are real in my heart, in my family, in our church, in our community, and in this world. I have been asked to be the clergy representative at a graveside service for a man who died of COVID-19. I taught his two sons at Followers of Jesus School 15-20 years ago. Those two guys, their mother, and two other people can join us at this graveside service. I hope I can be an encouragement to the family, and I hope that they can be inspired by Words of Life from the Word of God.