Jamie Dean – The coronavirus cavalry

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, April 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD’s national editor Jamie Dean now on the opportunity to be the coronavirus cavalry.

JAMIE DEAN, NATIONAL EDITOR: When deadly tornadoes struck parts of the South recently, I found myself struck by another thought: in just a few weeks, hurricane season begins. As officials in government agencies combat COVID-19, they also must prepare to respond to potentially devastating natural disasters—during a pandemic. 

This is particularly on my mind as this summer marks the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Category 5 storm was the first of many natural disasters I’ve covered for WORLD, and I’ve thought a lot about how reporting on those calamities compares to reporting on a global pandemic.

A couple of weeks into the coronavirus shutdown, I called Ben McLeish—a deacon I met in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck. Ben and his family have lived and served in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city for two decades. This time, we talked about New Orleans becoming one of the hotspots for COVID-19.

After Katrina struck, one of the most inspiring sites was the traffic backed up on Gulf Coast interstates—with relief workers and volunteers trying to get into the disaster zones. Churches sent teams and checks and supplies to bolster the efforts of local ministries. 

But as the coronavirus spread in early March, and cases flooded New Orleans, McLeish realized this time the cavalry wasn’t coming. With the pandemic hitting all over the country, McLeish knew: “We’re all in the same boat.”

That is one of the things that makes this widespread disaster so different. We can’t rush resources to one spot and simply start to clean up and rebuild. 

But I think the cavalry is still coming. It’s just, this time, it’s gloriously local. In our thousands of different callings and vocations and neighborhoods and relationships: We are the cavalry. God is using us, right we are. 

Doctors and nurses work long shifts. Grocery store clerks keep manning the counters so we can buy food. The other day, I found myself waving exuberantly at the man hopping off a truck and emptying garbage cans in my neighborhood—I was suddenly so thankful for people who keep our lives going in ways we often don’t notice.

Someday, we’ll thank the researchers working nearly non-stop to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. But for now, let’s also look for ordinary ways to offer relief to the people nearest to us. 

Maybe it’s the meal for a high-risk neighbor who can’t get out. Or the quiet commitment of a Ben McLeish who lives in the same place and loves the same people for a long time.  

Maybe it’s the family from my own church who stood in my driveway on Easter afternoon and sang from a distance: “Christ the Lord is risen today—Alleluia!” It was just the reminder I needed that we can be a little cavalry right where we are because the greater Calvary has already come: “Ours the cross, the grave, the skies: Alleluia!”

I’m Jamie Dean.


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