Businessman gives back to his community by bringing spiritual aid to the sick.
COVID-19 has changed all of our lives. We or a loved one may have been sick, or we may know someone who’s died, not to mention the social and financial consequences of social distancing. Loss, sadness, suffering, and grief fill headlines and newscasts.
But in the midst of all this hardship there are also points of light: people who are restoring hope. Not only health care workers, but also those “saints next door” who have decided to fight the virus with the remedy of kindness and generosity.
Andrés Alonso is 38 years old and has a small import business in Valencia, Spain. His company deals with various designers and manufacturers, and with selling products. He and his company have also been affected by COVID-19. To his great surprise, however, instead of destroying his company, the situation has made business boom.
In the midst of “the tumult of the pandemic,” sales of his company’s fitness line skyrocketed: “In March, home-bound people seemed to want to do nothing but exercise. Product sales grew significantly.” It was a stroke of luck, unlike the experience of so many, who have been left without work or have had to close their businesses temporarily or even permanently.
Realizing his good fortune, Andrés asked himself, “How can I give this back to the Lord? What can we do to help? Why don’t I try to buy masks, or try to make some kind of donation of useful supplies to a hospital?”
The difficult reality
At this point, he ran up against the sad situation that the coronavirus has created in Spain. He contacted several hospitals, but they were not able to accept donations of materials at that point, and lockdown was just beginning, which made everything more complicated. But he wanted to help, so he didn’t give up.
Then came his moment of inspiration: “I was reading a very good article by an Italian chaplain. He told how he brought his Bible to the hospital, and how many sick people liked to have the Gospel read to them. So I said, why not send Bibles to hospitals?”
Andrés had learned that “the sick people went without anything, with nothing but what they were wearing, and their relatives couldn’t visit them … So I said: Let’s send Bibles to the sick people.”
He got to work collecting the contact information of various hospital chaplains. His idea was that everyone who requests it can have a Bible in their room.
“At first I bought 100 Bibles, and I saw that the demand was very high …” The Bibles were all distributed quickly, so he bought another 120, but that wasn’t enough either.
“The same thing happened. I saw that there was a great demand and that we needed a lot of Bibles. I was working overtime, with people on sick leave, and I saw that I was getting overwhelmed. I needed help contacting people. Distributing them is easy for my company but I needed a hand—on a financial level, too.”
A work of solidarity
Andrés is an Opus Dei supernumerary, so he turned to his fellow Opus Dei members to spread the word: “While talking to my director we decided to discuss it in the group and it was very well received. Four or five people started helping out and we created a very cool PDF to spread around using messaging apps, asking for small donations.”
And thus, “No patient without a Bible” was born. The Spanish cities of Barcelona, Alicante, Cuenca, and even an improvised hospital in a library in Madrid have received the Gospels. The enormously positive response has been a surprise:
“People are very grateful! For example, many patients were waiting for them almost as if they were holy water. It has not been easy with the state of emergency. We’ve been buying Bibles as we go, as much as we can. There’s been much more demand than we’ve been able to serve.”
The market conditions and the laws in Spain have made it very difficult for the Bibles to reach their destination. Nonetheless, Andrés is satisfied with the work done: “They weren’t respirators, but for many people they were a spiritual oxygen tank. I’m sure that many people were grateful to be able to take refuge in the Gospel.”
Javier Gonzalez Garcia