“I was sick, and you looked after me…”
What does it look like to care for Jesus when He is sick? It looks like providing daily food for people infected with COVID-19 who are too sick to cook for themselves. It sounds like listening to their sorrows and praying with them on the phone every day. It feels like bearing their burdens and lifting them up to the Lord.
For the first time in her life, the meaning of this verse has become real for Rosette Mansour, LSESD’s Senior Partner Relations Officer. When Rosette first started the COVID-19 response ministry, she initially viewed it as simple food distribution. However, it quickly became so much more than that. Soon she found herself on the phone with the infirm, reaching out to them, listening to them, praying with them, caring for them. The mere physical nourishment was soon accompanied by deep spiritual nourishment.
Like everywhere else around the world, the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise. But in Lebanon, people face the pandemic alone without any help from the government. When they are sick, people usually depend on family for help, but in the case of COVID, most family members either themselves became infected with the virus, were hindered by the lockdown, or were unable to help due to the economic crisis.
That’s why, when LSESD first heard about a few families they knew in the community who had tested positive for COVID-19, they decided to jump into action and send food to their homes. This launched the initiative that was soon dubbed “The Ministry of Presence”, in which not only are hot meals distributed daily to families infected with Corona, but help, prayer, and support are also offered whenever needed.
Word quickly spread beyond the immediate community, and many began to ask for assistance on behalf of people they knew who had succumbed to the virus. Choosing not to discriminate on the basis of religious background, LSESD extended a helping hand to everyone who was in need. Now, LSESD’s COVID-19 relief teams are delivering six days’ meals per week to between 15 to 20 families throughout Lebanon.
The extensive care that people received through this ministry left them thankful beyond what could ever have been expected. One mother Rosette encountered was so sick that she could not even stand on her own two feet in order to feed her children. Until LSESD started delivering food to their door, the children had only sandwiches to eat. This mother couldn’t even begin to express her gratitude for how the team took care of her and her family while she was incapacitated.
“My whole family and I were infected. My husband was admitted to the hospital, and I wasn’t able to stand on my feet to cook, so my two young children were eating sandwiches only for 5 days, when I received your phone call. I believe it was an answer to an unspoken prayer. I can’t express how much my children enjoyed these hot nutritious meals.’
In another family, every member of the family fell ill independently of one another. The son became so sick that he ended up in the hospital. His mother was deeply grieved that she could not take care of him and was very concerned about his well-being. Through LSESD, she was able to connect with her son and see that he received the kind of tender loving care that was needed to revive him back to health again. She expressed to Rosette that she would forever be in their debt for taking over the role of a caring parent in her son’s life.
One woman who was sick with COVID expressed through tears that the food delivery was the best gift that someone could possibly have given to her during this time. It was exactly what she needed while she was sick and exhausted.
“If there is anything I needed more than ever during this time, it was food for my family. They loved it, which made me so relieved and happy. This ministry is a wonderful gift from God. God bless you, dear friends. I’ll never forget this. I can’t tell you how much it helped us. I really appreciate it. This has been the best gift that anybody could have ever given me.”
Other individuals called crying on the phone because they were unable to reach their loved ones due to the restrictions, distance, and their own feeble health. LSESD’s team was able to care for their family members and support them when they were unable to be there for them.
“My wife was in her second trimester with twins when she got infected with Covid-19. I was so concerned about her, but I couldn’t do anything because I was sick as well. My elderly and sick parents live far away in the village, and they felt helpless. This is when I got a phone call telling me LSESD would deliver food every day. We saw love and care in you that we didn’t see anywhere else.”
The COVID relief ministry has changed Rosette’s life. Having wept with people as their loved ones passed on and rejoiced with others who tested negative again, she came to realize how fragile and precious life is. Listening day after day to inpatients struggling to talk through their oxygen machines while fighting to tip the delicate balance between life and death in their favor has wrought a deep appreciation in her for the value of life. “Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.” (Psalm 114:3-4). What has kept her going in the midst of all this sorrow are the comfort she receives from the Word of God and the sense of responsibility she feels in caring for these people. Each time she prays with someone who is sick, she feels God’s strength and blessing flowing through her out to these people. His Spirit gives her what she needs to be able to minister to them.
Just as Rosette has, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic through which all of us are passing, we realize that our time here on earth is short. In light of this fact, let us strive to make the most of our fleeting days and find others who are in need of our care.
Provide food boxes to COVID-striken families today!