Mississippi pastor says he feels like ‘lepers in the Bible’ after sharing COVID-19 diagnosis

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TIPPAH COUNTY, Miss. — A Mid-South pastor is sharing with others that he and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, but the response by some people in North Mississippi has been more painful than the virus itself.

“I prayed this morning, God help us to see what’s going on here. And I do believe this an attack by the devil,” said Chad Bateman, pastor of Jesus Name Community Church in the small northeast Mississippi community of Ashland.

The message he usually shares is one of hope, but on this day the message is about himself and his wife as he hopes it helps others heal.

Bateman, who’s also an alderman in the town of Walnut, and his wife Jessica have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“My wife is a nurse and we had just come home from a week of vacation. We hadn’t been around anybody and secluded ourselves to get away from everything,” Bateman said.

He had allergy-like symptoms, headaches and a low-grade fever before seeking treatment and getting his shocking diagnosis.

“I would have bet you everything in the world that me nor my wife had COVID-19,” he said.

Recently, they’ve been quarantining themselves.

“We feel fine today,” Bateman said. “I’ve been on my porch and haven’t dared step off my property. I feel like one of the lepers in the Bible right now.”

He compares it to the stories of lepers in the Bible because of the reaction he’s gotten on his Facebook page. He didn’t want to keep his diagnosis a secret and to let others know could be infected, but some people have been critical.

“The deal with my church, I’d had a lot of hate, a lot of inboxes on Facebook,” he said. “I’ve logged out of my account because we need positivity.”

Last weekend, Bateman’s small congregation of eight agreed to have Sunday service and he only left home to get food for his family wearing gloves and a mask.

“That weighs heavy on me and I’ve shed some tears over that. I’m trying to wrap my mind around, trying to find the right words,” he said.

This Sunday he won’t be in his home church, but instead on Facebook Live sharing the word of God to bring people closer as they social distance.

Tippah County, Mississippi, which has 22,000 people, has been hard hit by COVID-19. It’s had 14 cases and at least one death.

“Let’s do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You don’t want anyone infecting you, don’t infect anyone else,” Bateman said.

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