For all of us in Australia, even the smallest decisions have weighty consequences right now: Do I feel I well? Should I go to work? Is the event we’re attending outside?
COVID has disrupted our daily lives and left many feeling fatigued. Around the world, the implications of COVID are catastrophic, and it can feel challenging to stay engaged with a world in need when our daily lives can seem so demanding.
At Baptist World Aid we continue to work towards a world where poverty has ended and all people enjoy the fullness of life God intends. But across the 18 countries where our Christian Partners serve, many people see fullness of life as a distant hope.
With regular exposure to global news, we now see more of what God has always seen across our broken world–injustice, inequality, suffering and loss.
The COVID pandemic has compounded the suffering of people living in poverty. It’s exacerbated existing vulnerabilities in terms of health, education, and livelihoods. COVID has undone 20 years of development progress and this terrible reversal will take years to reset.
Children, particularly girls, will bear the brunt of COVID’s regressive impacts.
As diminishing incomes lead families to regularly skip meals, children become vulnerable to malnutrition and stunted development that will affect them into their future. In response, Baptist World Aid has been helping provide food and agricultural training in countries like Indonesia, Nepal and Lebanon.
As lockdowns and surging cases have disrupted the education of children everywhere, he experience of ‘home-learning’ has differed vastly from country to country. In more economically vulnerable countries, families have struggled to maintain their children’s learning without access to materials, technology, or consistent electricity at home.
That’s why partnerships with local Christian agencies make such a difference. For example, Christian Partners in Uganda were able to bring school to families via a local radio broadcast.
In many cases, stress on the family income has meant children go to work instead of continuing with school. And there are fears that many of these young people will not return to school.
Worse still, COVID has given rise to a ‘shadow pandemic’—an increase in gender-based violence. And girls are particularly vulnerable. In some communities, sexual assault against teenage girls has increased dramatically as has the rate of teen pregnancies. That’s why Children and Youth Clubs in Cambodia and Malawi are essential in teaching children about their rights, and families about the dangers of child marriage.
For these children, and all people, God’s invites us to take refuge in his shadow, as in Psalm 36:7.
So, we pray with the hope that unites us as the people of God. We trust God hears the cries of people in distress, Psalm 34:17, and is at work in our world, through the hearts and hands of his people. And while the despair of the world is a heavy, Jesus promises that his burden is light (Matthew 11:29).
‘God has a vision for a better world for all,’ says CEO Melissa Lipsett. ‘We do too. And it’s why Baptist churches across Australia can help make a better world for all in fighting COVID’s impacts.’