Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Coronavirus continues its devastating impact on the world, changing everything about how we live. Millions of Americans now work from home for the first time in their careers. Unfortunately over 26 million have lost their jobs temporarily or even permanently. Millions who just weeks ago lived independent and happy lives enjoying the strongest economy our country has ever seen now find themselves facing deeply uncertain futures. Their homes, their jobs, even their next meals are now in doubt through no fault of their own.
Churches have also had to change how they conduct worship services. Prior to the pandemic, most churches already broadcast their services online. The pandemic has forced many churches to worship exclusively online, while others opt to conduct drive-in services as well.
Pastor Paula White-Cain’s City of Destiny in Apopka, FL uses its services to offer hope and celebrate Christ’s love and to compassionately serve Americans struggling to get by in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
With millions of Americans now depending on government unemployment and stimulus payments, which only go so far, churches like City of Destiny are stepping in to help. Pastor White-Cain held a drive-in service on Easter, during which the church distributed tons of food to hundreds of families struggling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus shutdown. Hundreds of cars honked their amens to Pastor Paula during the service. As the Easter service ended over 30,000 pounds of food were distributed to 711 families, representing 2,385 family members.
City of Destiny & Paula White Ministries continue to provide aid for thousands of families. To date, more than 151,000 pounds of food providing sustenance to 2,740 families, feeding 10,650 family members has been distributed. Paula White Ministries is also working with World Vision to get food to families who need it.
Additionally, the church has delivered meals door-to-door to 55+ and senior citizen communities. Working through the LA Dream Center, the church has distributed an additional 2000 hot meals To people in need.
White-Cain knows struggle first-hand. Though she’s known as an influential pastor and adviser to President Trump now, she has experienced personal abuse, endured hardship and battled poverty throughout her life. She has been there, where too many struggling Americans are now. Her experiences have given her a deep passion to help others. It’s something she takes with her into all situations and crises.
Senior Pastor Jentezen Franklin is also extending Christ’s compassion to struggling families. His church, Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA is stepping up to help the many food needs of on-the-job medical professionals and first responders during the pandemic. Pastor Jentezen Franklin made headlines when the president announced he would attend Free Chapel’s Easter service online drawing over one million viewers. But away from the media stories, Free Chapel is leading several initiatives and food drives to those helping fight the virus, and who have been put out of work by the shutdowns.
Free Chapel members have delivered over 1,500 meals senior citizens as well as another 1500 to doctors, nurses and first responders at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and its Urgent Care Facilities and Testing Sites, which is caring for patients fighting the coronavirus in the Atlanta area. Free Chapel members also fed the entire COVID-19 wing at the NE Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, GA and are making hundreds of masks for medical personnel. While personal visits to seniors are not allowed during the shelter at home orders, church members are calling and emailing to check up on senior citizens during this time. Free Chapel members have made over 20,000 calls to seniors and every single resident in 33 local nursing homes received a card with a personal hand-written note. Free Chapel is reaching people across all age groups with its online resources for kids and teens and its viral Faith Over Fear billboard campaign dots the freeways from Gainesville to Atlanta.
Many smaller churches and ministries are feeling the bite of the steep economic downturn. Free Chapel is helping as many as it can with financial donations totaling over $250,000.
Many Americans believe the government should let churches pick people up and meet their needs in times of crisis. These churches are doing that, touching thousands of lives directly and many untold numbers indirectly. These two churches — City of Destiny and Free Chapel — are playing key roles in helping Americans of all backgrounds deal with the massive and unprecedented impact of the deadly pandemic.