Romans 13:8 says “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” We understand that to mean that we are to constantly be looking for ways to show Agape love to others around us. And what better time to be vigilant in looking for ways to love than during a pandemic.
The months of December and January were hard months for Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County, Virginia, as with most of the country. We saw record numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and unfortunately deaths in our community. ICU Rooms in the local hospital, Sentara RMH, were doubled up with patients due to Covid-19. In December alone we lost three church members due to Covid-19 and a few community friends. Even during those days, we heard so often how the staff of RMH went the extra mile to help patients and their families. Visiting is largely off-limits due to Covid-19 so the staff was not only caring for their patients but the families of patients as well. They would use tablets to help patients and families face-time to talk and see one another. This was a great comfort to the families. The hospital allowed community members to circle the parking lot with their car blinkers on to let patients and staff know that the community was out there praying for them.
Very close to Christmas day one of our church members, Hollie Furr, reached out to Associate Pastor Gail Heiston to see if there was something we could do to show our love and appreciation for staff members of our local hospital. After the holidays we reached out to the RMH Foundation to ask what we could do to show we care. We're so thankful for the care local people were receiving. An idea was made about care packages with notes of appreciation and prayer for staff members.
On January 31 we made the announcement about Agape Bags for staff at RMH. These bags would be filled with snacks and treats—gum, lip balm, hand lotion, yes…candy, and that important care card of love. We asked for 50 Agape bags to be delivered to the hospital by February 14th so we could deliver on February 15th. By February 15th we had 217 Agape Bags in 14 boxes to deliver to RMH. Some of the boxes had even been decorated by our Building Blocks Children’s Center kids. Paul Baker who had lost both his mom and wife within 8 days in December to Covid-19 donated 100 bags. One family who lived closer to another hospital delivered 14 bags to Augusta Medical Center. These bags were received by the RMH Foundation and were distributed to ICU, PCU, and other hospital staff members. In the pictures, you can see Hollie Furr, who saw a need and responded to the call in her heart, Paul Baker, who stepped up with 100 bags himself, and Associate Pastor Gail Heiston as we dropped off our love and support for those who have given so much to so many.