Serving during COVID-19
By Gretchen Bartels
In Psalm 139, David reflects on God’s knowledge, presence in the world, and providence for each person. David recounts how if he were to run to heaven, to the depths, to the heights of dawn itself, or to the far side of the sea, God would still be there. Nothing takes God the Creator by surprise. In an intimate passage in verse sixteen, he writes “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God’s intimate knowledge of each person is an encouragement in troubling, uncertain, and unprecedented times, and in Psalm 139, David encourages us with this beautiful vision of God as loving and all-knowing, and this calls us to boldly put our faith in Him in the midst of life’s storms and meet them with faith, hope, and resilience.
In the summer of 2020, we find ourselves in the midst of a storm of uncertainty in the form of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and at Rebirth Homes, the CEO and founder Debbie Martis has two words she’s been repeating again and again to describe the reaction of the Rebirth Homes participants, staff, and volunteers: resilient and flexible. We have seen God presence and providence during these challenges.
As we continue to practice social distancing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to feel disconnected and unsure how to reach out and help others. For the safety of our participants and staff, Rebirth Homes has fewer in-person service opportunities during this season, but there are still so many dynamic ways to be involved and serving with Rebirth Homes!
To protect the safety of the participants and staff, mentors who often visited the home weekly before the pandemic stepped back from in-person service, but through Zoom, mentors have still been able to spend time with participants and encourage them in their healing journey. Moving to the virtual space has presented a number of challenges when the WiFi is uncooperative or the connection spotty, but participants, staff, and mentors have been stepping up with resilience and flexibility.
I was blessed with the opportunity to cook with the Rebirth ladies online. Days before the virtual cooking class, I sent the recipes for Greek salad and chicken-filled pita to one of the Rebirth staff members. We decided not to make the pita from scratch for simplicity’s sake. Our cooking class was in the early days of the pandemic when essential food items could be tough to come by, so Rebirth staff and I gathered the ingredients that we could find. While fresh dill was impossible to find for either of us, we each gathered plenty of fresh ingredients to make delicious chicken pitas. When the class started, the ladies gathered around the laptop, and set up my tablet to show the techniques of dicing vegetables for the salad, shredding cucumber for the fresh Tzatziki, and finally grilling the marinated chicken on a skillet. While we were separated by many miles, it was fun to share the experience of cooking together and to all smell the delicious scent of lemon and fennel as the chicken cooked. Before the pandemic, I never would have guessed that I would be cooking online with the ladies, but I’m so thankful that we got this opportunity.
Another great way to serve the women of Rebirth Homes is by donating goods through our Amazon Needs List. From the comfort of your couch, you can browse our home’s up-to-date needs and make a lasting impact in the life of a survivor—through a small, simple gift meeting her day-to-day needs. Our donation needs registry includes everything from cleaning products to keep the home a physically safe and sterile environment, to prayer journals and bible verse coloring books that encourage the spirit, to new undergarments that bring a woman dignity, to craft supplies that engage the mind and build skills. Gift cards are a great way to give a woman the freedom to select the exact item she needs, and you will find some gift cards on our Needs List as well. If you are interested in helping by donating needed items, you can find the Rebirth Homes Needs List here:
The storm that is COVID-19 has not yet passed, but we look expectantly to God’s provision during the storm.