Our Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are serving alongside Samaritan’s Purse staff at the COVID Emergency Field Hospital in Lenoir, North Carolina.
This story was first published at SamaritansPurse.org.
In nearly half a century of marriage, Wanda and Arnold never expected to celebrate their 49th anniversary in a tent hospital just minutes away from their home in Lenoir, North Carolina.
Shortly after Christmas they began displaying severe symptoms, and they were diagnosed with the disease they’d feared for most of the year—COVID-19. Their symptoms grew more severe and concerning.
“I couldn’t quit coughing and just felt I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get breath,” Wanda said.
Arnold never coughed, but he felt generally terrible—unable to exactly pinpoint why he felt so sick.
The couple visited the emergency room at Caldwell Memorial Hospital where they were admitted for care. Just a day or two later, they were transferred to the Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital constructed just adjacent to the medical center.
The 30-bed hospital, serving in a specialized capacity as a respiratory care unit, is being operated in partnership with six western North Carolina healthcare systems as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb across the region. Samaritan’s Purse doctors and nurses are treating the physical needs of patients while reminding them they are not alone or forgotten.
Wanda and Arnold have supported the work of Samaritan’s Purse for years through their church, though they never thought they would get to experience it firsthand, in their “own backyard.”
“I’ve read about Samaritan’s Purse in the news and see it on the television,” Arnold said. “You don’t realize what you all do until you’re in the middle of it—and we are in the middle of it.”
As they struggled for more than two weeks through the difficult symptoms of COVID-19, Wanda and Arnold never doubted that they were being guided by the Lord’s hand. “It’s in God’s hands and I try to leave it up to God,” Arnold said. “My decisions aren’t going to do it—you try to do the best you can, but we are only human. God’s going to take care of us. No doubt about it.”
Though his faith in the Lord is strong now, Arnold became a believer only 28 years ago at the age of 50. Wanda has been a Christian for the majority of her life, serving as a faithful testimony of God’s goodness to Arnold for so many years.
“My wife was always saved and I remember her coming home from church every Sunday and she would say ‘here, read this’ and she would have a little bit of Scripture,” Arnold said. “I thank God for her. That’s why I love her so much.”
After years of witnessing his wife and daughter pray for him, Arnold had an encounter with the Lord one Sunday morning alone in his car. A stirring in his spirit led him to believe that the time to give his life to the Lord was now or never.
“I thought I’d accepted the Lord before but I knew I hadn’t turned my life over to him,” Arnold said. “Something told me if I didn’t accept the Lord then, I probably wouldn’t have another chance.”
And each day, Arnold strives to grow closer to the Lord. “My love for God gets a little bit better every day and my love for my wife and family does the same thing.”
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Rather than creating despair in their hearts, Arnold says their illness drew them closer to Christ in prayer. He would recite in his mind the truth of Psalm 23, reminding himself that the “Lord is my Shepherd” as they learned more than ever to lean on the Lord for strength and peace in the midst of their circumstances.
“I’m just glad God’s brought us through, together,” Wanda said, expressing gratitude for the Samaritan’s Purse medical staff. “I know my family and my daughter are worried but the Lord’s brought us through; and what a precious team up here.”
Arnold was especially moved by the love, hope and excellent care provided by our team at the Emergency Field Hospital.
Getting emotional, Arnold said of our medical staff, “You can tell they’ve got a love for people. You can tell they love the Lord and you can tell that they’ve got a love for us, too. The love for doing the job they’re doing—it’s wonderful.”
UPDATE: Arnold and Wanda were released from the hospital on January 13. Praise the Lord for this answer to prayers.
Reprinted from SamaritansPurse.org.