Idalia watched her 65-year-old husband, Tahan, grow weaker and frailer day by day. Had the cancer accelerated its course of destruction, or was it something else? She wasn’t sure what she could do for her husband, especially now as a mysterious illness called COVID-19 spread across their nation—and the entire world.
Idalia had heard slivers of news about it, and now her prime minister was calling for a nationwide lockdown. Information and precautions about the virus changed rapidly as more and more people became infected.
Strict lockdowns seemed to be the most successful option in curbing the infection rate, but that meant Idalia no longer had a job as a domestic servant, cleaning dishes, clothes and bathrooms. It had been their only source of income, and her husband—who was fighting for his life—depended on her.
Anxiety threatened to overwhelm Idalia as she thought about their current situation. There were too many unknowns. When would the lockdown end? Could she get her job back? How would Tahan continue the medical treatments he needed to survive cancer?
News had surfaced that older individuals and those with pre-existing medical conditions were more at risk of COVID-19 severely impacting their already-compromised health. Her husband fell into the “at-risk” category, but they couldn’t worry about that. Not now. It was more important to find a way to get him his cancer treatment—and to eat. Food rations had diminished in their home, and without a job or savings, Idalia wondered how she would feed them.
“I was desperately in tension because I lost my job,” Idalia recalled, “and I had no money for my husband’s treatment as well as to eat at home.”
Tahan knew he couldn’t offer his wife the help she needed, not with his weakening condition. The additional stress of the ongoing pandemic only exasperated the situation.
“I cannot do anything because of my sickness,” he said. “Tension and turmoil were making me weaker and weaker day by day. But I never stopped praying to God for our daily living, though I was desperate in my heart.”
Tahan and Idalia had a strong faith in the living God. Before the pandemic, they were active in worshiping Christ with other believers and enjoyed the fellowship. Now, as they remained isolated, their faith had a chance to deepen as they waited on the Lord.
Even though the pandemic had put a temporary end to the regular gathering of believers, Tahan and Idalia’s GFA pastor, Lazaro, made sure his congregation was taken care of. Like many other GFA pastors, Lazaro stayed connected to the people the Lord had entrusted to his care, whether via phone calls or text messages. He knew of the difficulties Idalia and Tahan endured, and with the support of others, Pastor Lazaro delivered much-needed hope.
Wearing a mask and bearing 66 pounds of rice, four pounds each of sugar and lentils, mustard oil, health drinks, salt, bottles of hand soap and an envelope with money for Tahan’s cancer treatments, Pastor Lazaro made a special visit to see Tahan and Idalia.
“In such a difficult time,” Idalia said, “[the church] armed me with needed money and dry rations.”
It was the day their tension and turmoil ceased. The pandemic had threatened to steal Idalia and Tahan’s peace, safety and health, but the compassion of others gave them strength to make it through and much-needed provisions to help Tahan beat cancer.