JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — “The global pandemic” – it's a phrase we’ve heard a lot over the past year and a half.
While we’ve had our ups and downs in the United States, it’s easy to lose sight of how coronavirus has plagued other regions.
However, one Jacksonville pastor saw the images and heard the accounts firsthand.
It all started with a random follow on Instagram from Josh Komanapalli, a pastor from the small Indian town of Amalapuram.
“I started following him back," Impact Church Senior Pastor George Davis said. "And when the delta variant hit India, I started getting kind of the background reports on what was really going on. It was really a grave situation. And it is so hard for us to fathom that here in America.”
Komanapalli says eight of his staff died during the COVID-19 outbreak in India over the summer.
“What I was feeling, what I was looking at – the way I saw people die. It felt like a horror movie," he described. “I'm sorry, it's a little bit hard to put myself back into that position. It was scary for me to fall asleep. That's how bad it was. The fear that gripped me at that time. It’s hard for me to think about that right now. I didn't want to go to bed because I was afraid of not waking up the next morning.”
Davis knew he had to help his new social media friend and his community.
He asked his congregation to pitch in.
“They jumped right at the opportunity, and gave tremendously over like a two-week period," Davis said. "I mean literally all the money came in like two or three weeks.“
He says more than $100,000 was raised and sent to Komanapalli, so he could turn an old orphanage into the first full-fledged intensive care unit in Amalapuram.
Impact Church also got enough money together to feed 50 families for a month.
“It's amazing to see that old building to now looking at this place," Komanapalli said. "I was just there and it brings a smile to my face. I guess it's Christmas as well, so it’s a joyful time to be able to serve people with it.”
The unit, named after Pastor Davis, came online this month. It will be the only hospital in town come December.
“So, this is really turning into something special because it was intended to be just an emergency stopgap, but it's now turned into something that will serve the community for many years to come," Davis explained.
The two pastors – worlds apart – connected through social media and joined forces in the fight against COVID-19. Ultimately, changing Amalapuram forever.
“Never underestimate where God can come in," Komanapalli said. "You might think it's just a random connection. Put God in that position, he can do some crazy things.”