Early 2021, India was hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Many precious lives were lost leaving behind bereaved families. In response to this situation, Independent Ministries of Seventh-day Adventists in India formed a support network to provide medical, social, emotional, and spiritual care to persons suffering from COVID-19 and families who lost their loved ones to COVID-19. Dr. Austin Navis, medical doctor, and director of Abundant Lifestyle (Kolkata, India) spearheaded the initiative. Also, being the secretary of the Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN) India, Dr. Austin brought together medical professionals, Bible workers and lay volunteers in the field. The international ministries with centres in India like the Amazing Facts, Adventist World Radio 360, Hope Channel, LIGHT, AMEN, Restoration Health, Wisdom Tooth Technologies, 24/7 United Prayer, also came out to support this initiative. The support network was named as “Adventist COVID Care” ministry. Dr. Austin and another prominent member of the AMEN, India ministry, Dr. Samuel George Hansdak (Head, Medicine IV Unit, Christian Medical College and Hospital, India) held a series of meetings with the volunteers and laid down the guidelines and structure for ACC.
This ministry needed a team to provide social and emotional care to the affected persons requesting for help. Dr. Austin was in touch with Dr. Susan Chand, Director of Research and Innovation at USC through another project they were working on. He requested Dr. Chand’s assistance in forming a team for Social and Emotional Support. Dr. Chand, in collaboration with Dr. Edward Clarke, Dean of the School of Social Sciences identified faculty members to be part of this team. The members of the team are Dr. Glenda Hinkson, Dr. Kenneth Niles, Dr. Chanchal Gayen and Dr. Clarke. Dr. Chand led out as the coordinator for the group and a liaison between ACC and USC.
ACC was launched on the virtual platform by the Director for Health Ministries of the Southern Asia Division, Dr. Edison Samraj on June 10, 2021. Dr. Clarke, Dr. Niles and Dr. Chand attended the launch.
Between May 19 to June 30, 2021, USC’s Social and Emotional Support team through ACC conducted five training sessions for the medical professions, Bible Workers, and lay volunteers from the Seventh-day Adventist communities in India on the zoom platform. Each training sessions had over 40 participants including the interns in the Counseling Psychology programmes at USC.