From the COVID diary of Canon Vinay Samuel, former General Secretary of EFAC
Just after Easter I had emergency surgery for a cancerous growth in my colon. Its discovery, the speed with which I was admitted to hospital and the fact that it has spread no further was a real miracle. I wrote at that time that God’s presence has been very quiet and real. There was no anxiety or fear on my part as I took his presence for granted. God was there and in control. His hand would guide the medical people who all seemed very open to God’s presence and guidance.
Colleen was with me 12 to 14 hours every day, except when I was in ICU for 48 hours. Both of us sensed God’s presence as very intimate and personal like a parent’s loving and comforting presence with a sick child. The greatest gift was not the successful surgery and the rapid recovery but a deeper experience of what intimacy with God can mean to his busy and active children. Seeking such intimacy will become far more important in our lives and ministry.
It has left me during my recovery period very vulnerable to the surge of COVID-19 in India. While the BBC reports its ferocity in Delhi, in fact Bangalore which is now the business capital of India, is the real hotspot. We have been facing an unseen enemy that is everywhere. When the virus spreads to the villages and rural areas it will have a devastating effect. In the past month we have lost six close friends to Covid. From first signs of illness to death it took only five days on average.
People have questioned why the Indian population appears both docile and panic-stricken in the face of the pandemic. The answer lies in the culture that does not encourage resilience. People face a tsunami of threats to life and livelihood that they develop readiness to die and give up struggling early. Their view is: “If we survive, we survive; if we die, we die.”
Following the recent surge my doctor practically ordered Colleen and I to return to the UK where we have resident status. It was a wrench to leave the Divya Shanthi Community. Vaccinations have resumed at our Health Centre. The municipal corporation health team is very successful in sourcing the vaccines when some other centers in the city struggle to get a supply. We have vaccinated an average of 100 people a day for two weeks. Our social workers have visited low income families especially members of independent churches in our area and encouraged them to get vaccinated. Some do not have the proper identity papers and we work with the local politicians and officials to provide the necessary identity cards.
We now find ourselves in a quarantine facility, a former four-star hotel in London, for ten days. Our double room is quite spacious enough, decorated with scenic wallpaper. We are quarantined quite properly for medical reasons under the NHS. Most of our fellow residents are also from India.
However, a family with four children are also confined to a similar room. The staff of the facility are not, as one would expect, people from the hospitality industry and the medical profession with experience in making such quarantine guests feel at home and safe. They are people from and trained for security services . So, rather than being treated as British citizens and residents, the overwhelming experience is of being treated as unwanted refugees who cannot be trusted and will seek any opportunity to escape. This is reinforced by the media coverage of these facilities. But the Lord has given Colleen and I much time for prayer and quiet worship.
Church of England Newspaper May 28 2021