As the nation slowly emerges from the deadly grip of the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations and declining case numbers, the Church will be needed more than ever to treat the “residue of trauma” left in the wake of the virus, according to megachurch leader and televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Jakes, who is senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, shared his thoughts on recovering from the pandemic during an event hosted by the Ad Council Thursday called “Finishing The Race!” to promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence among the faith community.
“I borrowed this from [Bishop] Vashti McKenzie, but it really aptly describes our reality that ‘trouble doesn’t last always, but trauma lasts for a while.’ And I think we have to realize that as the trouble begins to dissipate that does not mean that the trauma is gone,” Jakes began in response to a question about recovering from the pandemic asked by Joshua DuBois, CEO of Values Partnerships, who moderated the event.
“And the Church is more needed now than ever before to treat the residue of trauma. We’re seeing it in an escalation of murders. We are seeing it in an escalation of divorce. We’re seeing it in an escalation of spousal abuse. Trauma takes on a lot of forms. And it’s one thing to hear it as a word, but when you see it in the behavior of people, sometimes we don’t really associate their behavior with the isolation that preceded it, the fear and the frustration, the loss of jobs that preceded it,” Jakes noted at the event which was supported by the Black Coalition Against COVID-19, Choose Healthy Life, National African American Clergy Network, National Association of Evangelicals and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
“The Church is needed more than ever before. The Gospel is needed more than ever before, and finding ways that we can minister to the souls of men, the emotions, the mind, memories in a holistic way. If you’re not sleeping right, if you’re not eating right, if you’re having digestive issues … it may be coming from suppressed trauma that may not be showing outwardly but may be eating you up inwardly. Ministry is very helpful,” he continued.
“David said, ‘no man cared for my soul.’ The doctors can care for your body, but the Church cares for your soul. So whether it takes therapy, counseling, but most of all ministry to get you to well, that’s what we want to see happen.”
Jakes explained that the vaccination rate among his parishioners at The Potter’s House has been growing and the church is slowly relaxing their restriction while maintaining safety protocols.
“We have gone from preaching to an empty room to preaching to a partially-filled room, mostly with our volunteers and staff, and now we’re opening it on up to our membership incrementally,” Jakes said. “Across the country, other pastors are sharing similar stories that they’re starting to stick their toe in the water, at least in moving toward normalcy. We’re balancing that between people contracting the virus, some people being lost to the virus, but more and more, the numbers are starting to trend down. The numbers in our city are trending down …”
He urged Christians who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated to “do your due diligence” with the help of qualified professionals, then make the healthiest choice they can.
COVID-19 case counts have been declining by 5% or more in nearly every U.S. state, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and nationwide levels of infections and deaths have continued trending downward. "An average of about 1.8 million vaccinations are being done in the U.S. each day over the past week," and "47.5% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose," federal data show.