Navajo Nation Ravaged by COVID-19; Billy Graham Chaplains Respond

Navajo Covid-19
(Photo: Nina Mayer Ritchie)

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has deployed to the Navajo Nation, alongside Samaritan’s Purse, to offer emotional and spiritual care to communities struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Navajo Nation, which extends through Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and is home to over 173,000 Native Americans, has surpassed New York and New Jersey for the number of positive COVID-19 cases per capita, according to CNN.

With 6,020 coronavirus cases and 277 known deaths as of Friday, it is estimated that nearly 3.5% of the Navajo Nation has been infected.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Navajo people who are struggling with this fatal disease, who haven’t had the benefit of the resources that most of us have in our communities and cities,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.

Many residents of the Navajo Nation live in multigenerational homes, making it nearly impossible to stop the spread of the virus within a household. In addition, 30 to 40% of residents do not have running water, posing serious challenges to sanitation and handwashing, says Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

A few weeks ago, Franklin Graham visited the Navajo Nation to assess the community’s needs.

“I was in Arizona to meet with the president and the vice president of the Navajo Nation,” Franklin Graham shared in a Facebook post on May 25. “We discussed their possible needs in response to COVID-19 in their communities, and we have offered to help if needed.

Crisis-trained chaplains began ministering in Shiprock, New Mexico, and surrounding areas on Sunday, and are planning to offer the “Sharing Hope in Crisis” course to local pastors in the coming days to equip them to compassionately and appropriately share the love and hope of Jesus Christ in their own communities.