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Thoughts after losing our senior pastor to COVID

Ricky Texada
Covenant Church / YouTube

Editor's Note:  This is part one of a 3-part series about COVID-19 and its vaccine.  You can read part 2 here.  

Only weeks ago, at Covenant Church in Texas, we lost our Senior pastor Ricky Texada to COVID-19. This pandemic is hitting close to home among people who are strong believers and integral to the church.

Today, our nation continues to be in a critical situation with COVID-19. Last year, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. died of COVID — the number three cause of death. People say, “Oh, it’s like the flu.” No, the influenza virus on average kills about 20 to 50,000 people a year, so this is far more than that.

This present crisis has tested our nation, especially Christians. Scientific knowledge about this novel coronavirus has evolved over the past year, and there are still many unknowns. That void of knowledge has made way for fear — including doubts about medical science—to direct some people’s outlook. Pew Research recently reported that evangelical Christians are among the least likely to say they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Because many scientists are not people of faith, certain doubts seem reasonable. Some believers feel that science is attacking faith, but we don’t see it that way. When guided by a moral compass, we see science and faith working hand in hand.

As a pastor (Mike Hayes) who has founded a Bible-believing church that has planted dozens of other churches, and a medical doctor (Tim Shepherd) who has since 1981 served thousands of patients in North Texas, we have come to this collective conclusion:

All humans are born into a war zone. In this world, there are lots of ways to be hurt and lots of ways to die. We believe God sends us into this world to be agents of redemption. Before the time that we return to Heaven, we’re soldiers redeeming the time. Every day, we have the opportunity to battle for redemption and people’s lives — to be agents of help and healing.

We all have to make our own best decisions. People should have the right to choose. Where there are fears and doubts about this COVID vaccine, the way of wisdom is to find an experienced medical professional who can discuss with you about facts.

After now four waves of COVID-19 across America, the loss of life has been significant. We’ve all dealt with trauma, and front-line medical workers are coping with severe burnout. No one knows exactly how this is going to play out. We anticipate that—thanks in part to effective COVID vaccines—we will start to see this virus decline as an ever-present top threat.

During this crisis, we’ve also seen a resilient church. For over a year, many believers couldn’t attend in-person worship services. Many of them have lost family or loved ones to this virus, and have been afraid of the lasting impacts of this pandemic. Yet millions have supported their churches and lived out their faith in practical ways. Truly, our ultimate hope is in Jesus.

Sometimes the darkest times may be the church’s brightest hour.

Mike Hayes is founding pastor of Covenant Church in Carrollton, Texas, and serves as president of Churches in Covenant, a network of more than 50 evangelical churches nationwide.

Tim Shepherd, M.D., has been a family practice physician in the Dallas area for over 40 years. 

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