Pastor honored as 'unsung hero' amid coronavirus shutdown

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He may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he's a superhero nonetheless to his community in Brooklyn, New York. And the people came out to show their appreciation.

On May 5, with car horns blaring and signs waving, a surprise 'Thank You' celebration greeted Pastor Francisco Fernandez of Iglesia Sol De Justicia, as he approached the small storefront church.

It was an outpouring of gratitude to an unsung hero of the coronavirus shutdown. Since early April, Fernandez has distributed food and hope to families from his Brooklyn church. The $75-kits feed a family of five for a week, and are sorely needed as people have been hit hard by the economic shutdown.

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"He's appreciated. He is loved ... We are grateful for all the times he's been there. He's a teacher, a mentor," said parishioner Gledny Rodriguez.

Pastor Francisco Fernandez of Iglesia Sol De Justicia was honored by his Brooklyn community for all his help during the coronavirus outbreak. (World Vision)

Pastor Francisco Fernandez of Iglesia Sol De Justicia was honored by his Brooklyn community for all his help during the coronavirus outbreak. (World Vision)

Fernandez called the tribute "a blessing" and "an honor."

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Pastor Francisco Fernandez of Iglesia Sol De Justicia in Brooklyn, N.Y., has emerged as an "unsung hero" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Pastor Francisco Fernandez of Iglesia Sol De Justicia in Brooklyn, N.Y., has emerged as an "unsung hero" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"A lot of people lost their jobs. They're having a harder time getting food. Some of the places, the lines are so long ... Some people just can't make it," he said.

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Partnering with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian aid organization in more than 100 countries, Fernandez has been on the front lines, risking his safety.

World Vision site manager Sandy Aguila-Rosa said the number of families he's reaching is significant, even in the peak of the outbreak.

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"So many people were dying of COVID-19. And he was here working until midnight with his wife and some volunteers, delivering food to the people that wouldn't come out because they were afraid," Aguila-Rosa said. "He knew their need as well."

Fernandez wears many hats. He's also a mechanic for the Transit Authority, a New York state chaplain, and a neighborhood police liaison.

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He was once homeless and living on the streets, so he understands better than most. "I know the need. I know what hunger is. I know what it is to go without food, without a place."

Through all his hardships though, he learned to trust God. "I always tell everybody, you know ... to God be the glory of all things, you know, it's not about me. It's all about him.

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"I'm no hero," he says. "I'm just God's hands and feet where he needs me."

Pastor Fernandez's church is one of Several World Vision distribution centers around the country. The food pantries continue to be in desperate need of funds, supplies and more heroes.

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