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Houston religious leaders share the role of faith during coronavirus pandemic

HOUSTON – Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall takes on special meaning this week as Jews and Christians celebrate their holiest time of the year. Coinciding perhaps ironically with the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than a million and killed many thousands.

Congregation Beth Yeshurun Senior Rabbi Brian Strauss said Passover provides life lessons to those of the Jewish faith.

“In Hebrew, Egypt is Mizraim, which means narrow confined places,” he said. “None of us, as modern-day Americans has been more confined than ever before. And so I think more than ever before it’s been easy for my members and members of the Jewish faith to see themselves in the Exodus story.”

This week’s show also features appearances by Pastor Ed Young of the Second Baptist Church and Pastor and Founder of Ralph Douglas West of the Church Without Walls.

“The church is geared for just such a time as this,” Young said. “People look and say the Church is in trouble. No, I think the church is being the church and trying to minister to the least, the last, the lost, our seniors and everyone else in between. It has been an opportunity for God to do business."

Passover and Easter occur during perilous times
Passover and Easter occur during perilous times (KPRC)

Faith online

Faith leaders have embraced digital communication after social distancing guidelines forced them to close the church doors. Many have found the online space a positive experience.

Dr. Young said his church has had its highest attendance ever online.

"The good news (is) heard clearer when there is bad news in the background,” said Pastor West. “The light always shines the brightest in the darkness. The way that we’ve done that is just to do what we’re doing and that is to put everything that we know online.”

Faith over fear

The fear factor is ever-present during these turbulent days with questions about what role God has played in all of this. Strauss looked at it differently.

“The fact that we’re dealing with this great challenge, this unprecedented challenge. How are we going to grow from this?” He asked. “Will we pray more? Can we find more God in our life? Can we find more community? Can we be enriched by this? Can we find some type of blessing? That’s what GOD wants from us.”

“Fear is evident. It’s part of who we are as human beings,” said West. “But, the Easter message reminds us that we have God who’s able to bring life out of death and to give hope out of fear and that is our faith and our strength. That is what we hold on to."

Watch Houston Newsmakers weekly on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m.

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