Quincy Ruffin is a man of God. A minister at his church in Newark, New Jersey, he can preach a fine sermon, but he has another job where he practices his faith. Earlier this year, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, he was on the front lines.
Not only is he a preacher but Quincy is a crematory tech and funeral assistant in northern New Jersey. At any time of year, he’s a busy man, but this past spring, he found himself working 12- and 14-hour days.
The pandemic hit hard in March and April, and the cases increased day by day. As he sat at his desk and did the initial paperwork, “I noticed how the ages of the deceased kept falling,” he says. “From their eighties to their seventies down into their fifties and sometimes even thirties.”
Like his colleagues, he was following all the safety protocols issued by the CDC. “We wore hazmat, gloves, face shields, masks, goggles.” Sometimes the proper protective equipment was hard to find, “or the prices went skyrocket.”
The bodies started stacking up and what was especially hard was seeing how often they were people he knew. Pastors, pastors’ wives. All the while he held on to his faith. “I prayed and I sang. There’s that Bible verse, ‘building up yourself on your most holy faith,’ and I’d cling to that, holding on as best I could.”
His faith came to be tried even more when his own mother landed in the hospital with Covid-19. He became her advocate, making himself known to everyone who was caring for her, from the head nurse to the attending physician.
The stress of his work while his own mother was suffering wore on him. “I felt like my legs were being sawed out from under me,” he says. “Yes, we pray and trust God, but I had to also face the reality my mom was in the hospital dealing with something most people I’d seen not come out of.”
She was released from the hospital and came home where his sisters looked after her, but her symptoms seemed to only get worse. “Each time I would see one of my sister’s names pop up on my phone it would be like a hammer going on inside my head.”
They called the bishop and he prayed with all of them on the phone, FaceTiming with Quincy’s mom. Then an ambulance came and took her back to the hospital. Quincy couldn’t see her and couldn’t get her to answer on FaceTime. All he could do was pray.
“Aside from dealing with my mom’s declining health, I was working double shifts almost every single day to accommodate the rising number of cases coming in due to the virus,” he says.
When he was finally able to FaceTime with his mom in the hospital, she was so weak and on oxygen that when he got off, the tears just flowed. “Please Lord, not now,” he prayed. “You’re God and You’re sovereign, but please don’t do this now.” With that came a measure of peace.
His mother was in the hospital for a couple more days, a burst of unexpected energy coming to her, until she FaceTimed him and declared, “I’m ready to go…today.”
“She returned home an hour later,” Quincy says, “and from that day I watched God complete the work in her body, and she’s now back at work, doing well, and she’s Covid-free!” His prayers and the prayers of many were answered. “I can never repay Him for all He’s done but I’ll spend the rest of my life trying.”