Matthew 25:35 says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” These words are never so real to me than when I hear stories about our frontline church pastors and volunteers. Did you know that there are around 8,000 churches in 25 countries with pastors and volunteers who work for our partner Compassion? They get up every day and live these words that Jesus challenged us with two thousand years ago? I don’t know every story but the hundreds I have heard have collectively given me a picture of what the local church means to the poor and vulnerable and I know that the bride of Christ never shines as brightly as in times like these.  

Covid-19 brought the world to its knees and while New Zealand is planning its financial recovery, millions of people in low-income countries are in no position to plan for the future. They live from day-to-day. Government restrictions have meant their daily income has mostly been wiped out. Although children seem to have less severe symptoms from Covid-19, the long-term ripple effects of the pandemic could be devastating for the world’s children. Parents who are already struggling to survive now can't even afford food and if a family member gets sick, there’s no way they can pay for a doctor, let alone medicine. Parents desperate for work are losing their homes because they can’t pay rent.  

These are the challenges that families are experiencing daily in 11 of the 25 countries that Tearfund’s partner works in, and it is only getting worse as Covid-19 spreads through Latin-America, Africa and East-Asia.  

Amongst this need, the church has stepped up! Last Sunday many churches in New Zealand were able to gather but in most countries where the church is a refuge for the poor, churches are still closed. But through dedication and imaginative approaches, the work has been continued. Church centres provide food and grocery vouchers for families who can no longer afford food, the staff help families access medical care and cover the costs of treatment. Donations to Tearfund’s Covid-19 children's appeal help to cover rent payments for families who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19. 

This is good news. In response to Covid-19’s devastation, Tearfund and Compassion have been able to stand with local churches around the world because we believe the church is the way God wants to touch this hurting world. That’s why at Tearfund we wrote to our child sponsors and asked them to “Rise as One” and donate to our Covid-19 Children’s Appeal so that we can bring food and hygiene packs, rent relief and critical health care needs to the most vulnerable children in the world during this pandemic.  

We have been blessed with amazing stories of hope and love that we have been a part of and I would like to share two with you.  

Sofia is from Ethiopia and she knows what it is like to be evicted. She knows the pain of having to split her three children up simply so they have a safe place to sleep at night.

Sofia was evicted because she was unable to pay rent with her meagre income as a vegetable seller. 

To prevent her children from living on the streets, Sofia sent the children to the homes of  different neighbours and family members. She spent her days going from home to home checking on her children. At the end of the day, she crashed at friend or family member’s home—anyone who would take her in. 

But in that crisis, the frontline church supported her family, paying the rent so they could be reunited again. Sofia felt like she was starting to stand on her own two feet again. 

Sofia’s story is not unique and we see many good people stepping up and saving the day. The immense passion and heart of so many of the people we partner with around the world just amazes me.  

Pastor Raul Severiche from the Christian Chapel in Bolivia started distributing food baskets to the families in the Child Sponsorship Programme as quarantine meant parents were unable to go to work.

Santa Cruz is the city in Bolivia hit hardest by Covid-19. But while serving these families, Pastor Raul saw many families, not part of the programme, in similar circumstances.
After praying with the leaders, they came up with a plan to help the entire neighbourhood and even the adjoining ones.

 In what they call 'Community Pot', they cook lunch for families four days a week. During the other three days, they bake over 2,000 pieces of bread to provide groceries to each family. The church continues providing food baskets to the families in Compassion's programme, and meals for the whole community.  

 

10-year-old Carlos PeƱaranda, who is part of the programme, said, "We didn't have food, but now we can also enjoy the delicious meals we had when we went to church." With tears of thankfulness in his eyes for the food basket, Carlos's father said, "We didn't have anything to eat. Adults can bear that but that's difficult for children. 

Stories like these remind me that there is always hope and that God is at work through our sponsors, our staff, our partners and our frontline church, everyone dedicated to continuing to serve the vulnerable. 

So be inspired. The church is rising up around the world.  



Help Families Affected BY COVID-19

Families in poverty have no safety net in times of crisis. Help provide food, medical care and support during this pandemic.