From anxiety to outrage to hope
A resurgence of the COVID–19 outbreak now would add yet another layer of complexity to an already exploding scenario for 2020. In the midst of massive and global protest in reaction to the death of former Salvation Army employee George Floyd, anxiety over the pandemic has turned to outrage against injustice; thousands of shouting voices and marching feet have trampled mandates for social distancing. Although the media has turned its attention on the drama unfolding in city streets, doctors and other health care workers continue to wage a desperate struggle to save lives in our nation’s hospitals. This is the third installment of From Anxiety to Outrage to Hope, that will put the spotlight back on Salvationists who are doing this essential work.
Dr. Drummond’s military, medical, and missional training
Warfare is what soldiers train for in the U.S. Army Reserve. “I was a reservist while I was in medical school,” says Major (Dr.) Cindy Lou Drummond, the New Jersey Division’s general secretary. “One of the courses that I took was about biological warfare.” What she learned astonished her.
Alluding to today’s COVID–19 pandemic, she says, “I can see the possibility of biological warfare looking similar to this pandemic and our need to prepare for it. This is not like a storm that hit just the Jersey coast or an earthquake or a tornado; this is a pandemic that’s affecting the entire world. So, this is requiring a mindset that says, ‘This isn’t just my community, it is everyone.’
In the early 80s, Drummond did her residency in Michigan as a family practitioner. “The AIDS epidemic happened during that time. Today, I fear that every person who tests positive for COVID–19 will be treated like the people who tested positive for HIV. There’s a real danger that once people are labeled in this way, others will begin to treat them as lepers. Sadly, we experienced a lot of that in the 80s because people didn’t understand HIV transmission.”
Taking care of families
Drummond’s career as a family medicine specialist has spanned 34 years. The daughter of Salvation Army officers, she graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1986 and became a Salvation Army officer in 2005. She takes today’s pandemic seriously, having served for two weeks in Port–au–Prince, Haiti, after a massive 7.0 earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation. She also served for six months in Zimbabwe, Africa, at a rural district hospital in Harare.
“I have my elderly parents living with me. They are staying home and keeping safe. I’ve been going to the office lately, but almost everyone is working remotely, and that’s good. We are still supporting the field, and I wish I could be out there with them, but I’m not always able to do that.”
Drummond says a few COVID–19 cases have been diagnosed among officers and soldiers in New Jersey. “On occasion, I have been on the phone talking to them about their symptoms and encouraging them to get help. One of our people went to the hospital and was turned away. But when the person got even sicker, I said, ‘You must go and get tested because I think you really have it.’
Although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, policies, and procedures are new, Drummond says she and her staff stay on top of them. “What do you do when someone in your community or your corps is diagnosed with the virus? What do you do?”
So far, they’ve made sure there’s a protocol to notify appropriate contacts and to follow the strict precautions. “Hopefully, our guidance is helpful to the corps, to the corps officers, and the department heads so that they’ll all be safe,” Drummond says.
“I have to hand it to the officers in the New Jersey Division; they have been so resourceful,” says Drummond. “They’ve taken to FaceTime, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to conduct weekly visitations.” On Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m., Drummond and her family spend 1/2 an hour together with their corps officer via facetime. “We talk and pray. It’s a wonderful way of ministry.”
Her corps officers have also gone door–to–door taking food, paper towels, and hand sanitizer, leaving these items on doorsteps. “They go above and beyond to make sure that the care and compassion they offer is equal to or better than what we would typically receive if we were able to be together.”
A mindset for ministry
“I think our Jersey officers have the kind of mindset we have to have with COVID–19. We cannot see it, so we have to be able to use precautions without marginalizing people. That’s the fine line that we have. The media says we are “fighting an invisible enemy,” which is so spiritual in its context. We’re not doing this battle with guns or swords; we’re doing it just by our living.”
Drummond is currently reading the book of Joshua. Chapter 1: 9, stands out. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 22: 5 also resonates with her. “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
by Warren L. Maye
From Anxiety to Outrage to Hope: View Series