The coronavirus has touched us all. Some consequences have been mere inconveniences, such as not being able to enjoy breakfast at one’s favorite restaurant or suffering with foggy glasses with every donning of the mask. Such minor ramifications have affected us all. For millions, the impact of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the official name given to this virus – has been life changing. Of the 6,000,000 cases in the United States as of August 27, 2020, 180,000 resulted in death. Approximately 40% of these deaths occurred in nursing homes.
Therefore, it was heartening to read of a small 23 bed nursing home in Baltimore, The Maryland Baptist Home for the Aging, which made national headlines in late July for being COVID-19 free. To be sure, this outcome is commendable, and the administration was quick to give the glory to God. Therefore, it is nothing short of a miracle that as of this writing, there has not been a single case of the coronavirus among the 450 residents and caregivers of The Baptist Home network of campuses. This includes the rural contexts of Chillicothe and the Arcadia valley as well as the COVID-19 hotspots of Ozark (Springfield) and Ashland (Columbia).
Five months COVID free
I was almost afraid to pen these words due to a false (and unbiblical) concern of jinxing this record. But I believe Missouri Baptists should celebrate this amazing report. The source of this record is prayer. Long before social distancing and handwashing were in vogue, leadership and staff at The Baptist Home began praying for God’s protecting hedge around our residents and caregivers at each campus. Across Missouri, pastors and church leaders have told me they are praying for The Baptist Home. To each of you I say, “Thank you.”
These prayers were coupled to a physical response that sought not just to meet, but to exceed, the Center for Disease Control guidelines. Daily screening of everyone entering a care facility was implemented prior to the federal requirement. Administrators began securing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) before supplies ran out. Campus chaplains and activity directors implemented creative approaches to reduce the impact of social isolation. Each of these measures contributed to the goal of protecting every resident. But at the heart of the response was our unwavering faith and trust in God.
The Baptist Home response mirrors James’ admonition to balance faith and works. James writes, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14) At The Home, our residents have the privilege of observing staff who put feet to their faith daily. For many workers, these sacrifices extend far beyond their shift. Many have curtailed vacation plans in order to ensure they would not put residents at risk upon their return. Others have sacrificed social activities for the same reason. Their efforts are noteworthy of recognition, just as Paul commended Phoebe for having been a benefactor for many, I hope and pray Missouri Baptists will join me in commending the caregivers at The Baptist Home for establishing a record of caregiving that is unprecedented in our nation. Let us continue to humbly bring our petitions to the Father for His continued protection of our residents and caregivers in the coming months of this crisis.