Faith on the Frontlines

​In early 2020, Samaritan’s Purse (SP) deployed Emergency Field Hospitals to both New York City and Italy to provide critical care for people seriously ill with COVID-19. A respiratory care unit, operating in partnership with the Mount Sinai Health System, treated 190 coronavirus patients at the Central Park site from April 1 to May 5. According to the SP website, “More than 240 relief specialists served at various times on the Disaster Assistance Response Team there.”

Among them was Lynn (Lipp) McBride, a physician assistant and Young Life alumna.

Lynn grew up in Oakton, Virginia, with her parents and two sisters. She attended Oakton High School from 1986 to 1990, where she was introduced to Young Life, led by Area Director Rick Beckwith. According to Lynn, “My twin sister, Ann, and I were involved with everything Young Life had to offer: club, camp and Campaigners; however, Campaigners was truly integral to growing us up in our faith.” During those four years, Lynn and Ann not only attended Campaigners, they led Campaigners and brought friends from school to club, various weekend camps and summer camp at Young Life’s Lake Champion in New York. “Young Life gave us a vehicle to share our faith with everyone from classmates to teammates. This also challenged us to grow as servants and leaders,” says Lynn.

Following high school, Lynn headed to the University of Virginia. Though she didn’t serve as a volunteer leader, she was surrounded by friends who did and was able to serve on summer staff at Saranac Village (a Young Life camp in New York) in 1994. Lynn says, “If Young Life hadn’t been there to stand in the gap … who knows? The Young Life people I knew demonstrated authenticity as believers and translated that into lifestyle. They allowed me to grow in leadership and be a leader. These were formative years.”

After finishing her undergrad work at Virginia, Lynn joined a medical mission to Honduras. During this time a doctor took her under his wing, inviting her to shadow him in the office upon their return to the U.S. Through this experience, she discovered the physician assistant role and pursued her credentials through Emory University.

A Perfect Fit

Fast-forward to 2010; Lynn was working in orthopedic surgery in Virginia when a major earthquake hit Haiti. Lynn and a friend said “yes” to joining the SP relief effort. “We served at a mobile medical clinic in Port-au-Prince,” said Lynn, “and I found it was a perfect fit. Emergency medicine is my specialty and being Christ’s ambassador in a crisis such as this, well, there is nothing quite like it!”

This first experience launched Lynn on a decade-long adventure that’s included five additional deployments with SP. The first two included traveling back to Haiti in the midst of a cholera outbreak and being part of the first emergency field hospital deployment following a major earthquake in Ecuador. The final three deployments entailed:

Serving in Mosul, Iraq.

“This deployment was more intense than anything I had yet experienced,” said Lynn. “There were six-foot blast walls around the entire perimeter of our hospital and the sound of machine gun and mortar fire could be heard continuously.” Lynn and her co-workers cared for over 4,000 patients and conducted more than 1,700 surgeries on Iraqi soldiers and civilians, including men, women and children. When asked if this fourth deployment was frightening, Lynn responded with a resounding, “Yes! The challenge is to trust God in spite of the fear. Then there is the opportunity to experience the many blessings of being Jesus’ hands and feet to people in need.” Interestingly, Lynn’s next deployment would further challenge her very human propensity to shrink, rather than move forward in spite of fear.

Joining SP’s relief effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic.

“For the first time, I was dealing with going to the frontlines of a deadly infectious disease outbreak. I had to seriously consider what I believed about God, whether I would operate out of fear or faith.” Ultimately, Lynn experienced no sickness personally, and took part in God’s healing provision in the DRC for a month. Little did she know how this experience would build upon her last and prepare her for her sixth deployment; amazingly, only miles from her home.

Providing critical care for people seriously ill with COVID-19. 

Lynn wondered if Americans would be willing to accept their medical treatment in a tent hospital in Central Park. What Lynn remembered from her experience with Young Life so long ago, presented itself once again in Central Park. SP healthcare personnel loved their patients relationally and created community. “We offered them hope and healing and faith. Patients wanted to stay.  They didn’t want to transfer or leave. Additionally, they were very receptive to hearing the gospel. They asked us questions about our faith and asked us to pray for them,” Lynn said. “People were very sick and it was difficult losing some patients to the disease. At the same time, many people were healed and some came to know Christ.”

Press In and Press On

Lynn is quick to point out she is “not the most skilled or qualified, but I have been willing and God honors that.” She goes on to say, “I am one of the many who count it a blessing and privilege to serve, and this in spite of myself! Every time I’ve been asked to go, I’ve grappled with fear and trust; we can be so good at self-preservation that we miss our calling.”

So, Young Life, never underestimate the ripple effects of your investment in a kid’s life. Those opportunities to serve, lead and grow might just translate into world-changing action down the road. In the words of Lynn, “What you’re doing is hard work and you never know how you’re going to influence someone and the impact they will have. All my Young Life leaders did that for me; I encourage you to press in and press on!”​