By Frances Weller | April 8, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT – Updated April 8 at 7:23 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Christians around the world are praying for something they’ve never had to before–their faith.
While the journey through this pandemic has been a collective one, when COVID-19 strikes and kills a loved one, the path takes on a different perspective.
“She was number 10,000 in North Carolina that passed of COVID and she did everything right,” says Regina Hawes.
Hawes lost her mother to COVID-19 in January. The deadly virus attacked Kitty Richardson quickly. The 80-year old widow and mother of two lived only a week after her diagnosis.
“We did not get her on the telephone. We found her unresponsive and out of her head from lack of oxygen at her home,” Hawes says. “That was on Monday. The following Monday she was dead in the morgue.”
Hawes was not able to be with her mom in her final days. And like so many others who lost loved ones during this pandemic, she was not able to hold a traditional funeral.
The heartache was almost unbearable, but her faith was never compromised. Hawes believing her mother went straight to Heaven and counting on God’s blessings is what got her through.
“Even in your lowest times, when you think you can’t go on, you can, and you can if you have faith.”
Others who lost loved ones to COVID have not been as convinced God hears all prayers.
Rev. Terry Henry of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in Wilmington says faith has been put to the test and it’s failed for even the most devout Christians.
“Some of them are angry with God because they don’t understand how a loving God, so to speak. could have allowed this,” Henry says.
He admits even his faith was disrupted.
“It was and I’m going to be honest with you and quite transparent. During this last year my faith has been shaken numerous times.”
During times of trouble, churches have always been the place for refuge, solace and understanding. But they were forced to close even before the peak of the pandemic.
Pastor Mike Ashcraft of Port City Community Church, the largest congregation in this area had to close the mega church that seats 2,500 people. He also has campuses in Leland and New Bern.
He says his message has been simple; God never promised a trouble-free world.
“God never promises. What Jesus said was ‘in this world you will have trouble but take heart, I’ve overcome the world,’” Ashcraft says.
Ashcraft, like Henry, knows that faith has been put to the test. Unlike Henry, however, he has a different take on his personal faith.
“Has my faith been shaken at all? That’s a really good question,” he says. “You know I don’t want to be flippant, but I would say no. And the way I process it is if I don’t have faith, what else do I have.”
Both ministers know they have challenges ahead as churches begin to open back up.
“There are people who may not come back after this pandemic, especially those who are hurt and broken and who feel like maybe God has disappointed them,” Henry says.
Henry and Ashcraft believe, as with anything, this pandemic has a purpose. While they can’t define it, Ashcraft says if you remain in faith, you’ll realize what it means on the other side of this journey.
“That’s what faith is. I may not understand how this is going to play itself out or how it’s going to be beneficial or meaningful today, but somewhere down the road I’m going to look back and realize 2020 was a really pivotal year for me and there were some things that happened in me and in us that were really, really important.”
As for Kitty Richardson’s daughter—it’s about living in faith and in honor of her mother.
“She was a great mom and we miss her dearly and hate that COVID is what took her because she should have been around a whole lot longer. But what can you do? Life goes on. And that’s the sad reality of COVID–life goes on,” Hawes says. “I’ll see her again.”
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