Serving on the Frontlines

June 24, 2020 0 comments

Class of 2020 Grads Provide Help
and Hope in the Midst of COVID-19

Every morning, Keshia Brown (SBL ’20) prays with her coworkers before putting on full personal protective equipment for the next eight to 10 hours. As a physician assistant working in an urgent care clinic that also serves as a testing site for COVID- 19, those daily prayers are just as critical as the gear she wears to go into battle against the virus and help patients in need.

“Looking COVID-19 in the face has required me to trust God on a different level and like no other time in my life,” says Keshia. “My team prays every morning before our day starts as a reminder that we serve a God who goes before us.”

Keshia Brown (SBL ’20)

Having that kind of trust is paramount for Keshia and others who are serving on the frontlines and exercising extraordinary faith in the face of fear.

“Caring for those with this virus has been like staring at a bear in the forest with its mouth open ready to devour you, yet knowing as you stand face-to-face with the bear, God won’t let him eat you,” explains Keshia. “It doesn’t change the trust or the terror, but it does offer a level of peace that only God could give in this season.”

Keshia is one of nearly 150 Regent students who are part of this year’s graduating Class of 2020 and also directly serving those affected by this worldwide pandemic.

These students include police officers, teachers, counselors, healthcare workers, military personnel, pastors, retail employees, food service providers, nursing and senior living facility workers, delivery drivers, and volunteers at homeless shelters. And each is stepping up in an unprecedented time to demonstrate Christian leadership that is changing the world.

For Jerry Ajex Palvannan (SPC ’20) that often means answering the phone at 3 a.m. for someone in crisis. During the day, Palvannan pastors a church. At night he is a crisis suicide prevention specialist, working the for a suicide prevention hotline.

Jerry Ajex Palvannan (SPC ’20)

“This pandemic has unfortunately caused tremendous stress in the lives of people,” says Palvannan. “For many, we are the first and even the only point of contact as they struggle to deal with the overwhelming uncertainties that the COVID-19 crisis has caused. It is heartbreaking to receive calls from countless individuals contemplating suicide due to the pandemic, yet equally rewarding to hear stories of resilience and hope.” 

Palvannan credits a large part of his ability to instill hope in the lives of affected individuals to the training he received at Regent.

“My education and preparation at Regent University played a significant part in the work and service that I provide as an essential worker. The crisis and trauma classes that I took at Regent provided me with a strong foundation. I also learned a great deal about addressing compassion fatigue and implementing self-care,” Palvannan says.

Many of these frontline workers aren’t just heroes in their places of work. They are also heroes at home — caring for their families in a season of new routines and daily changes.

Courtney Brown (SPC ’20) provides ongoing clinical care to the military veteran population. Brown also is part of a crisis support team to aid veterans in acute distress due to the profound impacts of social isolation from COVID-19. She has equally challenging work at home.

“In addition to being a clinician, I am a wife and mother. My husband is a trauma nurse at a local hospital and has continually worked as a first responder. As medical professionals working in hospitals, our greatest impact as a family has been navigating work while our children fully transitioned to remote learning from home.

Courtney Brown (SPC ’20)

Even Courtney has had to partially transition to working from home, conducting counseling sessions from her new home office — her 9-year-old’s bedroom. 

“I tell my patients that we are all in this together and experiencing our own stressors, but that I’m happy to be a support for them during their time of need.”

Like her fellow graduates, Courtney also acknowledges the role that her faith and Regent has played in helping her serve others during such a critical time.

“First and foremost, God gives me strength to get through each day. I have found space to lean into Him like never before,” she shares. “Regent exposed me to wonderful friends and mentors who are continually available to help and support me and pray for me during this time, despite the distance.”

Having a network of supporters near and far — from both the faith community and Regent — has been a silver lining for so many of these frontline servants.

“The sense of community, the love and support for another, and the presence and visibility of the church has been like no other,” Keshia reflects.

She adds, “Regent has equipped me to live out loud on a deeper level … including the solid biblical teaching in every class as preparation for how to apply God’s word to any circumstance or work situation.

“As a healthcare worker,” continues Keshia, “I know one omnipotent Physician and the beauty of this pandemic reminds me that we’re all in need of the same thing — and that is His mercy.”

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