The Covid-19 pandemic has had an obvi- ous effect on the physical health of Americans, with over 600,000 dying and many more with long-term and chronic health issues. (Covid “fog” is a real thing.) Many others have struggled financially through the last seventeen months or so, although it seems that we may be coming out of that.

But the big issue that often goes unno- ticed or underreported is the isolation and detachment that so many people feel, beginning with the lockdowns and continuing as new waves of variants keep coming at us. I know of some people who are terrified to even leave their homes, let alone hang out with others.

Many people work from their homes now with only the interaction of others on their computer monitor. The protocols used to protect us from viral infection al- so keep us from social interaction and contacts. And this is especially pro- nounced with many of our senior citizens who may have been suffering from social isolation long before the pandemic. And if that senior already had been dealing with mental issues, the loneliness they feel may be even more acute.

To make matters even worse (this is get- ting depressing, but hang in there, it will get better), if someone has died during the pandemic their funeral may have been postponed and the grief that the family is dealing with is often shoved un- der the rug. (I am catching up with several “Lockdown” funerals from 2020.)

To make it a full circle, all of these men- tal strains and emotional difficulties usu- ally have a detrimental effect on a per- son’s physical health. Scientists have long known that stress and depression lead to high blood pressure, heart dis- ease and, of course, self-destructive behavior, like overeating and self- medication.

In other words, right now in our community, we have a whole lot of people who are dealing with a whole lot of issues, without a whole lot of help.

That’s where our Stephen Ministry program comes in.

Stephen Ministers help bring Christ to people in need. They are trained caregivers who walk with individuals who are dealing with issues in their lives. The Stephen Minister simply walks with that individual, listening to them as a friend.

But a Stephen Minister is more than just a caring friend. They go through a rigor- ous training program (50 hours) so that they can truly help the person they are walking with. Obviously, this demands that they keep confidentiality.

When I came to Holy, the Stephen Minis- try Team was the first group I met with and they were going strong. …and then the pandemic hit. With our community opening up, the Stephen Ministers are ready to get back out there and do the work of Christ. If you think this is something that you would like to be involved in, let me know. I will be totally honest with you, it is not for everyone, but I know there are many of you who would be awesome at this.

In any event, please pray for our Ste- phen Ministry program, and if you know anyone that may be in need of this min- istry, I will put you in contact with that group.

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