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‘We Just Want You to Live’ — How Christians Are Saving Lives Amid India’s COVID Crisis

In May, more than 120,000 people in India died due to COVID-19 — the nation’s worst month on record. Total COVID-related deaths have topped 355,700, the third-highest worldwide. However, multiple sources estimate actual losses in India are several times higher, likely well over one million.

“India is reeling from the crisis at this point,” Dr. Beryl D’Souza-Vali told Faithfully Magazine via Zoom. “I work in a medical facility where almost every staff member has lost a family member to COVID. Today, we’re coming downhill from the peak, but the consequences have been really hard.”

Born in Mumbai, pediatrician D’Souza-Vali today serves as director of Good Shepherd Health, a ministry of Dignity Freedom Network, currently led by her father Bishop Joseph D’Souza. From the nonprofit’s headquarters in Hyderabad, the doctor coordinates hundreds of health care workers serving across India.

In Bangalore, one of the nation’s worst-hit cities, the Rev. Gavin Cunningham leads First Assembly of God Church, a congregation of 600 people. He also has regular contact with 112 affiliated churches that operate in 10 provinces across India.

“It’s been very bad here in Bangalore,” Cunningham said. “Hundreds of ambulances have been lined up outside hospitals to take the deceased to burial grounds. So we did not have ambulances to help the sick. Then people have started throwing bodies into the Ganges River.”

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Josh M. Shepherd
Josh M. Shepherd
Josh M. Shepherd writes on culture, faith, and public policy issues for media outlets including The Stream, Religion & Politics, The Federalist, and Christianity Today. A graduate of the University of Colorado, he previously worked on staff at The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family. You can find him on Twitter @joshmshep. Josh and his wife live in the Washington, D.C., area with their son.

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