The white tents are all huddled together on the green lawn, a familiar cross logo on their sides. To the people in nearby skyscrapers, looking down at Central Park, the field hospital is another sign of how dramatically things have changed. The place where kids were happily kicking balls and walking dogs a month ago is gone -- replaced, like so much of New York City, with triage units.
Two weeks ago, Franklin Graham's emergency teams for Samaritan's Purse were busy unloading a plane-full of supplies in Italy. No one ever dreamed that a few short days later, the organization would be on home soil, dealing with the same emergency. "I'll tell you, I certainly didn't think about that," Franklin admitted. Late last week, he'd been in contact with Mount Sinai hospital, who pleaded with the group to set up camp in the park across the block. "So we packed up the trucks," he told "Washington Watch" listeners. "We started [setting up] on Monday, and today we started receiving our first guests... We're up and running and we're going to treat as many people as we can in Jesus's name."
Thanks to a small army of volunteer doctors and nurses, the tents have taken some of the workload off of Mount Sinai's hands and made room for others to be seen and treated. Despite all of the disasters and crises Samaritan's Purse has encountered, Franklin is still stunned at this "worldwide tsunami of a virus." "We've never seen anything like it in the history of mankind." And honestly, "I think God is sending a shot across the bow. I think he's warning us to wake up, to repent of our sins, and turn to faith in His son, Jesus Christ. In the meantime, we're going to help people who are suffering, because that's what Jesus would want us to do."
"I've never seen fear like this before in people's hearts," Franklin pointed out. "I want people to know that God loves them, that He hasn't forgotten them."
And he isn't the only one. Churches across the country continue to rise to the occasion with unique ideas for showing the community they care. Drenda Keesee of Faith Life Church in New Albany, Ohio was blown over by the response she got when her congregation decided to treat an entire hospital staff to lunch from a nearby restaurant. "The lady [who] was in management there, one of the key leaders, she broke down in tears and began to just sob." When word got out about what the church had done, another hospital called and asked if they would consider doing the same thing there.
But Faith Life Church didn't stop there. They took sandwiches to police and fire stations -- and as a result, Drenda told me, "We're seeing God move in ways that I don't think -- without [this happening] -- we would see. The body of Christ is activated, and we're doing things that we've not frankly tried before." They've made thousands of phone calls to members in the area too, praying with people, sharing Christ with people, offering to meet a need or two. "These people won't forget that during the hardship, the pressure, when they didn't have answers or were hurting, it was the church that reached out to them with the love of God."
If you or your church is doing something to serve your community let us know about it. Also, if you are working on creative plans for worship on Resurrection Sunday, we would like to know that too. Send your idea to email@example.com, and help us encourage more congregations to think outside the box! Also, to partner with Samaritan's Purse and the life-saving treatment they're delivering in the coronavirus crisis, visit their website.