How Our Partners are Faring Through COVID -19
By brother K
What have you been hearing about COVID-19 and the impact of this pandemic?
Canadian media has been focused on how schools are going to reopen, how case
numbers are doing (primarily in Canada and the USA), how many vaccines
are in various phases of trials, how people are adhering to or ignoring
social distancing guidelines, and what reopening the economy here looks
like. Mainstream media reports very little about how people in Asia are
faring during this time.
Here is a summary of the challenges we are hearing from our partners:
incidents of persecution are up, people are starving, and lockdown measures
are continuing. The situation faced by millions – and according to our VP
Strategic Partnerships in India it's actually hundreds of millions - is
tragic and heartbreaking. We don't want to sound alarmist but we do want to
relay an accurate picture of what is happening. The reports we receive are
dominated by the difficulties but that is not all we are hearing - relief
work is bearing fruit as our brothers and sisters care for the poor in
The Impact of Lockdowns
Lockdown restrictions have been the greatest hardship in many areas.
Millions have been unable to work because they are confined to their homes
and the lockdowns have continued until now. The poor have been unable to
earn any resources to purchase food to feed their families. Very limited
government help has been provided for those in need. It is impossible to
predict how long lockdown restrictions will continue.
Churches are not permitted to meet and so Pastors and missionaries are
largely ministering over the phone. Because church members are struggling,
Pastors who are supported by their congregations are also facing a huge
Here is a paraphrase of how one of our partners in Odisha, India describes
the current situation:
95% of the believers in the churches do not have enough to eat. This is
their current diet: a small quantity of rice, about twice per day (only
about half of what would be needed to be full). It is very hard for them
to get meat once per week. Lentils are the only protein they get and it
Another partner in Odisha shared this:
Most are eating only twice a day without vegetables. They eat rice with
water and salt, and eat a few raw chili peppers with it. Due to lack of
proper food they are becoming physically weak and people are losing
immunity as a result of malnutrition. A number of people have died quickly
from getting sick because they are so weak. It is hard to know whether
it was from the coronavirus or not.
It's fair to say that this situation represents a significant portion of
the state's population of 45 million. In other words, millions are facing
immense hardships. From what we have heard, people in Odisha appear to be
facing the greatest need.
Many other areas also are finding the lockdowns terribly difficult. In
Northeast India, one disheartened partner wrote: "I do not know what to
do and how to help these people in the time of crisis like this. Every
phone call I receive is all about their daily need."
The challenges vary from location to location in Asia. They are facing
hardship in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Indonesia but it does not appear to
be as severe. There seem to be more freedoms in these nations but select
regions are subject to sudden lockdown if COVID-19 spread is suspected.
Spread of the coronavirus is also very challenging to track in these
nations. A test costs an individual about CAD$30 in India, money that
the vast majority of people are not able to afford. Infections may be
much more widespread than what is recorded.
If the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdowns were not enough, a number
of our partners have indicated that persecution is on the rise as well.
In India's north a Pastor serving with our partner and his mother were
attacked by Hindu radicals on August 14 (and they remain in hospital).
Four believers known to one of our partners were recently lynched in
Odisha. A third partner reports that persecution is at an all-time high
with lynchings, Christians getting driven from their villages, and church
buildings and homes of believers being burned and destroyed during this
Our brothers and sisters need our prayers at this time.
We are grateful for all the support received for relief over the last 5
months. Over $80,000 has been generously donated to help meet the needs
of brothers and sisters and to enable them to reach out to those in need
around them. We have received very encouraging reports of the fruit of
Believers have used relief resources not only for believers but also for
their neighbours who do not yet know Christ. One mission leader in North
India shared with us that they have had the privilege of leading around
800 people to Christ through their relief efforts. In Nepal, here is what
one missionary shared: 'I heard many people saying, "Christians are very
helpful people and we must not give them trouble, rather we can believe
in the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him like them".' A mission leader in
Odisha shared that providing relief supplies has opened doors among
villages that hitherto have been completely closed to Christians.
Because so many brothers and sisters continue to suffer, as a mission we
feel compelled to do something. It doesn't appear that lockdown
restrictions in India will be lifted any time soon, especially as
recorded cases of the virus continue to increase. We are praying that
the church of Canada would maintain a strong testimony of sharing with
the poor as we read about in the New Testament.
The average package assembled for a family has cost about $15. Those
supplies help a family in need for about 2 weeks to one month. It is not
enabling them to live lavishly but it is enabling them to have needed
sustenance. You can do the math, the support we have been able to send
has been only a small drop in the bucket in the face of the overwhelming
We have set a goal to provide $250,000 for Covid-19 relief between our
19 partner missions by the end of 2020. We feel that is a reasonable goal
in order to accomplish the following things: 1) help pastors and
missionaries who have not received any support from their congregations
over the last 5 months to be able to provide for their families; 2) help
believers who have no work at this time and are struggling for their
daily needs; and 3) provide resources for reaching out to the unreached
Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel and for loving our brothers
and sisters together with us.
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updated September 23, 2020