Love, prayers and masks from Changhua Presbytery

Taiwan presbytery comes through by sending 300 handmade masks

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

Christine Felts. assistant clinical director at Seven Counties Service / Bellewood & Brooklawn, and Sam Jewell, the agency’s chaplain. are seen in their masks from Taiwan’s Changhua Presbytery. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — No sooner had the small delegation from the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky — its general presbyter, stated clerk and moderator — renewed their passports and booked their flights to Taiwan than COVID-19 postponed their plans. Ever since three representatives from Changhua Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, Mid-Kentucky’s international mission partner, had traveled to Mid-Kentucky in May 2019, the Revs. John Odom, Jerry Van Marter and Angela Johnson had long been looking forward to their reciprocal visit.

While the group’s travel plans necessarily had to wait, Changhua Presbytery’s love, care, and compassion did not.

Because Changhua Presbytery had heard of the challenges initially faced by the U.S. in acquiring adequate personal protective equipment and face masks, they sprang into action by sending 300 handmade facial coverings, each with a pocket for a filter, to their partners in Mid-Kentucky, accompanied by their prayers.

In turn, the Rev. John Odom, Mid-Kentucky’s general presbyter — who serves on the Faith Heritage Committee — was similarly quick to respond by answering Seven Counties Services’ call for additional, much-needed facial coverings.

Seven Counties Services / Bellewood & Brooklawn, formerly known as Uspiritus, is a historic mission initiative of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. The organization provides residential treatment, therapeutic care and adoption, as well as several community-based services.

“Regarding the masks, we all love the colorful and unique variety,” said Missy Fountain, senior director of Advancement for Seven Counties Services / Bellewood & Brooklawn. “They are being enjoyed by clients throughout all of our programs, not just the kids on our Bellewood & Brooklawn campuses. The kids especially liked the ones that had characters on the inside. The masks are also great because of the ties on the side that can easily be adjusted to fit various face sizes.”

Because an executive order issued on July 9 by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear now requires all Kentuckians, with some exemptions, to wear face coverings, the gift from Changhua Presbytery is needed and appreciated now more than ever.

“We are very grateful for this donation that helps us protect our kids, other clients, and team members during the pandemic,” said Abby Drane, President & CEO of Seven Counties Services / Bellewood & Brooklawn, and a member of Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church. “Our wonderful partnership with the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery has made this gift possible and brought unique relationships to us, like this one from Taiwan, to support our mission.”

Taiwan, a country of 24 million people, has only had 462 confirmed COVID-19 infections, 440 recoveries and 7 deaths since the outbreak began. According to online sources, the country has not recorded any locally transmitted cases since April 12.

In an email addressed to Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, the Rev. Liu te-hsing, pastor of Changhua Yuandong Road Church in Taiwan, wrote, in part, “Even in a difficult situation, God will always be our strength and help! We are members of Christ ’s family, supporting and caring for each other… May God’s love and peace be with you!”

Odom returned his gratitude to Changhua Presbytery.

“We are grateful for not only the kindness of our siblings in Christ, but their witness, example and testimony to the power of a whole country that, for the love of their neighbor, committed to wearing face masks, to maintaining social distancing, and to quarantining those infected with COVID-19,” Odom said. “We look forward to a time when we can meet and celebrate with our Taiwanese partners in person. In the meantime, their presence and their prayers are felt every time I see the staff and residents of Bellewood and Brooklawn wearing their gift of colorful masks, handmade with love.”

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