Speaking at the May meeting of the Christian Reformed Church's Council of Delegates, from his home in Window Rock, Ariz., Classis Red Mesa delegate Stanley Jim shared difficult stories of the effect of COVID-19 there. Classis Red Mesa consists of 20 Christian Reformed churches and missions in Northwest New Mexico and Northeast Arizona, including 12 churches on reservation land.
"We are one of the hotspots, with a per-capita incidence of COVID-19 third behind New York and Louisiana. The numbers are increasing almost daily," Jim said.
He pastors Window Rock CRC, which he said "is doing okay. The Lord has blessed us and we’re surviving," but he pointed out “it’s really painful for me to hear about others. I’ve lost good pastors and relatives to COVID-19, whole families. Death rate is rising. About 80 on the reservation. They had something like 2,000 positive cases. Rising every day. We’re hit hard. It’s really bad out here. A lot of our people are still without running water."
When the city of Gallup, N.M., was shut down May 1 to attempt to prevent further spread from that hotspot, people were cut off from supplies. "Gallup, one of the border towns, is where we shop for essentials. The whole city was shut down. Supplies have run low here, prices have gone up big time," Jim said.
CRC news published a story by Chris Meehan on April 29, relaying news from a doctor, a nurse, a chaplain, a school superintendent, and a task force leader all working in this region.
World Renew Disaster Response Services is at work, providing food, water, and personal protective equipment.
Jim asked delegates to pray for the Navajo nation's president and vice president, who he said are strong Christians. "They are passing out food and being among the people, doing what they can to help. ... We pray with them every Monday morning."
Jim also noted that while electricity and internet access are not universal across the Navajo nation, he has seen online Sunday worship from his church extend further than before. "On the positive side, we’ve begun to really reach out to people further out than us, people from hundreds of miles away, more and more people every Sunday joining our Zoom worship. People we know are believers are tuning in as well."