Faithful journalism in a pandemic
For some reason, journalists like myself have a reputation for…
A global pandemic. Prayers for racial justice. A Christian astronaut launching into outer space.
These were among the top stories in The Christian Chronicle during 2020.
In their own words, Christians describe the heartbreak, hope and even humor that characterized the past 12 months:
“There is evil in this world, and evil took two of my dear friends. Not a bullet from a gun — evil. Not ideology — evil.” — minister Britt Farmer, at a prayer service for his grieving church after a gunman killed two beloved members. (Page 1, February)
“He knew heaven was where he was going to go. Even though we didn’t plan for it to happen this way, he died in the house of the Lord, serving.” — Sarah Wallace, speaking about her father, Anton Lamont “Tony” Wallace, who died in the church shooting. (Page 12, February)
“Before we knew Jesus was going to hold her that night, she did. We do not believe the Lord took our girl from us. We believe he is holding our girl for us. And Hattie loves to be held.” — youth minister Matt Collins, after the death of his 4-year-old daughter, Hattie Jo, in a Tennessee tornado. (Page 1, April)
“Someone looked at the house and said, ‘It’s unbelievable what a tornado can do.’ And I told them, ‘No, it’s unbelievable what a bunch of loving Christians can do.’ … Their power is a lot stronger than a tornado.” — Gary Flatt, voicing appreciation for fellow believers who rushed to help after a funnel cloud flattened his home. (Page 1, April)
‘“I knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t think it was going to be this hard.” — Kym Langford, a Christian nurse from Oklahoma, on serving in New York City at the height of its coronavirus outbreak. (Page 1, May)
“You can’t fathom it. That’s what’s so amazing about this whole thing that has transpired is the change from darkness to light of the two men.” — Roy Willmon, reflecting on the baptisms of his daughter’s killers. (Page 3, May)
“We do want to make life more comfortable for these kids and these families, but we also want them to see Jesus through what we do.” —Josh Willingham, a retired major-league slugger, on his foundation feeding hungry children in his Alabama hometown. (Page 1, June)
“They cover the sky like a lunar eclipse.” — David Bikokwa, a Kenyan church member, describing the waves of locusts that had ravaged his homeland. (Page 3, June)
“It’s stressful. You’re wondering: Are you bringing it home to your family? Are you protecting yourself enough at the hospital? There are just so many things at play.” — Miranda Lee, a Christian nurse, on treating COVID-19 patients in her hospital’s ICU. (Page 5, June)
“We may end up installing the puppets as elders and deacons to help us with herd immunity in our church.” — minister Gordon Dabbs, joking about the special guests in his church’s otherwise empty auditorium during COVID-19 livestreaming. (Page 17, June)
“I sat there, and I prayed, and I wished that he would get his knee off that guy’s neck so he could breathe. There was no sense of humanity.” — Warren G. Blakney Sr., a minister and civil rights leader, on the video of a police officer ignoring George Floyd as the handcuffed Black man complained, “I can’t breathe.” (Page 1, July)
“We lose connection with the heart of God, and we stop screaming at the stuff God screams at, and that’s a problem. We are not screaming when God is screaming.” — minister Rigel J. Dawson, discussing racial justice after Floyd’s death (Page 21, July)
“First, snow cones are a lot cheaper than tear gas. And second, they seem to be a lot more effective.” — Danny Baker, a Christian and Arkansas police chief who sent a snow cone truck to serve a crowd of protesters. (Page 8, August)
“All of those deaths were real people. They were all someone’s loved one.” — Eric Beasley, a Christian who survived a brutal battle with COVID-19 while dozens of fellow patients admitted the same day did not. (Page 1, August)
“Faith is the anchor that’s going to help us in every other aspect of our life. So we must put God first, and we must become familiar with the Bible.” — Lindy McDaniel, a preacher, elder and retired major-league pitcher, in an interview months before dying of COVID-19 at age 84. (Page 3, August)
“I’ve had some people say, ‘Well, you just got lucky; the nurses were right there with you when you coded.’ They can call it luck if they want to, but these people were there … because God had them there.” — minister Marty Neal, who survived COVID-19 after flatlining at the hospital. (Page 1, September)
“The thing that is striking is how everyone around the world, regardless of social status, is facing the same situation right now.” — Kemmel Dunham, a Central American missions director, on the global impact of COVID-19. (Page 1, September)
“Jesus knocked at the door, and I opened it. My faith is tied to history, a moment in time when I decided to follow Jesus. For us to interpret God’s word within the context of its revelation, we have to study its history.” — Steven Ortiz, cofounder of the new Lanier Center for Archaeology at Lipscomb University (Page 3, September)
“The first thing I thought of was that I could feel God on the bottom of the pool with me: ‘I’m going to be OK.’” — Brooklyn Boyer, on surviving a swimming pool accident that left the teen in a wheelchair. (Page 19, September)
“He laid down his life for a lot of people that day. I don’t want people to forget that.” — Glenda White, on her late husband, Rich, who died when a gunman opened fire at their church. (Page 17, October)
“God is in the details of all of this. Each day brings a new challenge, and each day, God says, ‘I’ve got this, Susan.’” — Susan Johnston, on the furniture ministry that she leads. (Page 24, October)
“We got the memo a long time ago. You hate us. You think you’re better. You don’t want us here. I want you to get our memo. We love you despite your hatred towards us.” — minister Nick Glenn, in a Facebook post after racist trolls attacked his congregation’s online service. (Page 1, November)
“I don’t know how anyone who doesn’t have faith gets through something like this. If it weren’t for my faith, I probably would have folded up my tent and gone home.” — David Stewart, a Christian senior living center CEO, on the pandemic’s toll on elderly residents. (Page 1, November)
“I actually sent up communion cups and a Bible, and we have really good internet connectivity.” — NASA astronaut Victor Glover, on his plans for worship during a six-month mission to the International Space Station. (Page 1, December)
“COVID has revealed, to some degree, issues within the church. We already have overworked ministers. This pandemic has magnified that.” — Celeste Smith, a youth minister’s wife, on the stress caused by the pandemic. (Page 3, December)
“She’s 96 years old and reminds me of the Energizer bunny — nothing seems to stop her or slow her down. She’s got a big heart. She does things for people. She makes pies for people at church — she’s famous for her pies.” — Larry Wallace, on his mother, Irene, who celebrated 75 years of marriage to Larry’s father, Gordon, on the day after Christmas. (Page 24, December)
BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].
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