Rev. Dr. Michael Carrion pastors in the North and South Bronx — part of the poorest congressional district in the nation and located in a U.S. coronavirus hotspot. At the time of the podcast recording, 15 members of his church had died due to COVID-19. Pastor Carrion clings to hope as he also mourns for all that has been lost and advocates for the vulnerable.

In Today’s Conversation podcast hosted by NAE President Walter Kim, Michael describes:

  • How the health crisis unfolded in his community;
  • What the coronavirus pandemic reveals about racial inequities in our country;
  • How Christians in different areas of the country can identify with brothers and sisters who are facing greater hardship; and
  • What steps the church and its pastors have taken to address trauma and mental health concerns in their community.

Read a Portion of the Transcript

Walter: You’ve talked about the need for processing. You yourself have gone through that. Clearly, you’re encouraging your staff and other pastors to go through that. Are there other practical tips that you would give to those in leadership who themselves are experiencing vicarious trauma?

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Michael: Talk about it. One thing that we’ve noticed in our sessions is that if you come from a family of origin where there was already underlying trauma that was never dealt with, that resurges in this. It almost awakens things. A lot of our folks have been articulating, “I didn’t realize but now I know.” So, any leader that’s providing trauma or experiencing that find a place to center, find a person to speak to, find a place of rest.

You know, pastors, we never punch in and we never punch out. We just don’t. We just keep going. We’re so unhealthy, Walter. We don’t know how to turn it off. We don’t know how to read our Bibles without finding a sermon for them. We have to find a sermon for us. In this time, your devotional time, and place before God, this is where you find restoration in the shadow of the Almighty. You have to get into the shadow. In the shadow there’s a therapist, the Holy Spirit. And surrender. I’m not talking about religiosity, I’m talking about surrender and talk to somebody then look for joy.

I’ve seen weeping enduring, Walter. I’m looking for joy. I’m looking for joy in the stories and the narratives of churches that are experiencing revival. I’m looking for joy in the narratives of churches that are rethinking and re-imagining their church, their ecclesiology, and launching missional communities. I am finding joy in people getting out of the ICU and off of the breathing tube. I’m looking for joy in people getting jobs — and we’re in the middle of a depression.

The church is hurting. The church is bruised in New York. Everybody’s hungry. We got a small grant, and we’re putting out thousands of dollars of food just because people are hungry, Walter. It’s fighting the trauma, but it’s also fighting the economic reality. How do you find peace when you’re physically fighting a virus and then you’re worried about being evicted, and then you’re worried about feeding your children?

You better be in the shadow of the Most High. You better find refuge in God and stay connected. That’s the other thing — we isolate. I would encourage people who are suffering trauma to connect, connect, connect. Accountability, accountability, accountability.

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Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Christian Community Credit Union.