“Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got
“Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean, wooh.”
In 1974, William DeVaughn Jr. released “Be Thankful for What You Got.” The song sold 2 million copies, reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. DeVaughn is 73 and living in California but he still has a lot to be thankful for — as do we.
The difficulties of the past 20 months have hit every Fellowship family. Pastor Tolan Morgan expressed those difficulties in a video on Victory Sunday. There was no pandemic playbook. Pastor Morgan and the rest of the ministerial staff had to write their own plays — on the fly — to keep the Fellowship family together. Each Fellowship family had to do the same. All of our routines were broken, from how we worked to how we socialized,shopped and recreated. Vacation plans? Gone. Family reunions? Cancelled. And church services stopped in March 2020 and didn’t resume, even ina limited capacity, until Easter Sunday, 2021. And yet, we are thankful. Fellowship, as a church, followed the science, and in doing so sowed back into the community — providing much needed provisions including COVID testing — and when the vaccines became available Fellowship sponsored vaccination drives. And it isn’t over.
As of this writing, Georgia has not yet reached 50 percent of its population fully vaccinated. In Houston County that figure, as of Oct. 19, is 43percent. Same is true of Bibb County, but there is a huge difference. African Americans trail their white counterparts in vaccination, 38.7 percent to46.9 percent in Bibb, that’s a gap of 8.2 percent, while in Houston County the gap is 0.2 percent.
Why is that statistic important? More black men in Georgia have died of COVID-19 than any other race. Black women come in at No. 2. Our community is being ravaged by COVID, and that’s why Fellowship is being so careful and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. There is another reason Fellowship is so careful.
According to the Brookings Institute, black deaths led all other racial groups, but the gap become more pronounced in the 45 to 54 age demographic,where there were 28 black deaths per 100,000 population compared to four for whites. It gets worse as the age increases. The 65 to 74 age group saw 196 to 38 black/white gap per 100,000. And, more men have died of COVID, 65,000 more, than women, according to the Brookings. And yet,we are thankful. Yes, we have lost loved ones, friends and church members to COVID, but Fellowship has stepped up to be an example of what achurch needs to do when faced with such a daunting issue.
It has come down to leadership that has listened to the spirit — not the spirit that told people to just pray and not be afraid — but the spirit that placed the medical experts in our path so we could survive this pandemic. It is fine to have faith, but remember what the Bible says in James 2:14-17, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body,what does it profit? Thus, also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, we have so much to be thankful for. The virus, while not gone is abating, for now. As individuals and church members we will continue to practice the CDC recommendations. If you’re not vaccinated, just do the smart thing and get vaccinated. If youare among the population most vulnerable, and many of us are, get vaccinated — and if you have been vaccinated — get the booster as soon as it’s available to you. And be thankful that God has put medical professionals in place to help us defeat COVID-19.
Written by Charles Richardson