By Chris Philbeck
People are flocking to Central India Christian Mission’s new hospital in the city of Damoh for treatment of COVID-19, CICM founding director Ajai Lall reports.
Doctors and nurses are working 18-hour shifts at this hospital, which serves a region of more than 12 million people, Lall told me. Every available space is being used.
As I write this article, India, a country of more than 1.3 billion people, is reporting roughly 400,000 infections and 3,000 deaths per day. Those numbers almost certainly are underreported, Lall said, due to India’s fractured healthcare system. Whatever the exact numbers, India is setting records every day for infections and deaths, and this creates both great need and opportunity.
I spoke with Lall this week about the ongoing challenge of an unprecedented surge of the COVID-19 virus in India. I’ve served three times as chairman of the U.S. board for CICM, and I have visited India three times. One of the great blessings of my life is the friendship I have forged with Dr. Ajai Lall and his wife, Indu.
In our conversation, Lall described the challenges CICM is facing as well as some tangible ways people might help.
Initially, the hospital’s greatest need was for oxygen. Fortunately, a supporting church generously provided funds to purchase an oxygen generation system that can provide 80 cylinders of oxygen a day. But other needs continue to mount.
India’s district government has asked CICM to distribute 15,000 vaccines in their area. The cost of the two-shot vaccine is $8 (U.S. dollars), making the total cost $120,000. In addition, CICM will be distributing 5,000 food and hygiene kits that will provide two months of food supplies (one meal per day), certain hygiene material (like hand sanitizer and gloves), and also a gospel message. At $30 each, the total cost of these kits is $150,000.
The mission hospital also is in need of a CT scanner to verify the severity of the COVID-19 cases and an ambulance with critical care capacity.
Several months ago, Dr. Lall and I talked about the words Joseph spoke to his brothers. When the brothers feared for their lives upon the death of their father, Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
The COVID-19 virus has brought great harm to our world. At the same time, it has provided Christians with the opportunity to love and serve people in many ways. That’s certainly been the case in India. We can all be a part of that, first, by committing to pray for God’s mercy and provision. We can also be a part by helping provide for the needs that have been listed. Visit www.indiamission.org to see how to participate in the medical and emergency relief.
Chris Philbeck serves as pastor with Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana, and writes our “Preach” column.