A July study published in The Lancet found that healthcare providers are at least twice as likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population. As of September 2020, more than 7,000 healthcare workers globally have died from complications of the virus. But in spite of the risk, these brave men and women press forward, sacrificing their own health and safety on behalf of others.

Haggai leader Dr. Raquel Manalastas is one of these courageous healthcare professionals.

A physician in the Philippines, Raquel’s life has revolved around this public health crisis for more than 8 months. In addition to her main role at her hospital, she treats patients at a prison infirmary. With cramped quarters and limited resources, prisons have become notorious infection hotspots. The risk is high and physician burnout has reached record levels in this disaster. Knowing this, what keeps a leader like Raquel motivated?

“We are currently living through an historical event, and as a front liner, it’s even more draining. Every duty feels like a test because I’m never sure if I’ll be able to return home after my shift or be sent to a quarantine facility. Nothing is certain, and that’s more reason to trust in something unchanging.”

Dr. Raquel Manalastas

Haggai leaders are taught not just to endure crisis, but to run toward it. Regardless of profession, Haggai leaders are challenged to take an eternal perspective, disdaining temporal fear to focus on the Gospel purpose at hand. When each challenge is viewed as an opportunity to advance the Gospel, the risks involved are suddenly worth it. Raquel calls this mindset “faith over fear.”

“COVID-19 is a global threat and knowing that this virus could end lives, even my life, I have the option to stop and protect myself and no one’s going to blame me for doing so. But that’s not what God called me to do. Like Jesus, who healed the lepers that no one even had the courage to help, I won’t stop my ministry. Faith over fear. God is bigger than this pandemic.” 

Covered in PPE, isolated from her family, and facing extreme exhaustion, something remarkable has happened to Raquel. In one of the strangest, most difficult seasons of her life, her faith has become stronger than ever and she has discovered renewed energy to share the Gospel.

“I would say that my trust in Him has never been stronger…In terms of sharing the Gospel, it never stopped. My interaction with my patients has always been rooted with this objective,  and if my words and actions were not enough to move them, I hope my presence would. This is my testimony that I will also use to advance the Gospel even after the virus is gone.”

Through it all, the Haggai family is supporting Raquel with prayer and encouragement.

“I’m grateful for the community that Haggai has built and the outpouring of support I’ve been receiving during this trying time. I’m also grateful for the meetings and webinars that have been organized to help us cope.”