by Jennifer Powell

Scott Forest was just a few weeks into his role as a project manager for one of Park Street’s Covid-19 Rapid Response Teams when he was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Although faced with months of treatment that would alter his days and sap his energy, he chose to stay in the position. It turned out to be a good decision in ways that he did not anticipate.

The Covid-19 Rapid Response Teams were created to make connections with and support community organizations. Each team is led by two project managers who define needs and orchestrate activities. 

Scott’s team, which he leads with Ruthie Chen, was assigned to Boston Health Care for the Homeless. That organization serves 11,000 homeless individuals a year providing comprehensive care from preventive dental services to disease management. The Park Street team hoped to be able to encourage the group’s health care providers while supporting their work.

Things didn’t go as planned, however. Before Scott’s diagnosis, the team had struggled to connect with BCHC. While initially receptive, BHCH leaders stopped being responsive. The project managers were preparing to direct their efforts elsewhere when the organization got back in touch.

With things finally on track, Scott wanted to stay involved despite what he faced personally. 

Scott, a structural engineer who lives in the Back Bay with his wife, Ashley, and son Reilley, has been attending Park Street Church since 2014. He grew up in central Massachusetts where his mother attended a Pentecostal church. But he developed his own relationship with God after college while living in California.

The cancer diagnosis pulled him in a direction he didn’t want to go.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less often,” he explained. “This project helps me fight that tendency to hunker down and just take care of myself. The more I think about other people, the more it helps me spiritually and emotionally.” 

“Your life is a gift. Even when things are hard, you can care for others and love others the way Jesus did,” Scott said.

The Park Street team has been selling items through Facebook to raise money for BHCH and it’s been putting together care packages for those who receive care from the organization. Recently, they completed 25 packages including 5 for younger children, 5 for older children, and 15 for adults.

While Scott has been able to minister to the city through the team, he couldn’t have known how important the team would be for him and his family.

“They pray for us, they bring us food, they love us and they encourage us,” Scott said. “I met these folks not long ago and within just a few weeks, they’ve come to mean so much to us.”

Scott said he has received from his team has helped to build his trust in God through his current challenges.

“People are praying constantly and that really reassures me,” he said. “Someone will text me a verse and then I will get that same verse from someone else and I know God is reaching out.”

He sites Pslam 34 as a source of reassurance.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,

     but the Lord delivers him from them all;

20 he protects all his bones,

     not one of them will be broken.

“It’s not necessarily physical protection, but rather spiritual. I’ve been saved by grace. Troubles are temporary. I am so grateful that I am protected and I don’t have to worry about my salvation,” Scott said. “It’s hard not to trust that it’s going to be okay when I am getting so much support.”