Perspectives on COVID-19 from Global Interaction Fields
May Mission Month is over. Thank you so much for your contribution and support, and for adapting to the delivery changes in this ‘new normal’. We are all finding ourselves outside our comfort zones in many different ways and there is much hardship, but also gratitude and thanksgiving can prevail since we reside in an affluent nation and ordered society with mechanisms to support those in vulnerable situations.
Those of us with a heart for the nations have lifted our eyes to see what is happening beyond our shores and the privileges we have. Through Global Interaction colleagues there are some concerning stories from the majority world, especially South Asia, South-East Asia and Africa, regions already under pressure through poverty and religious discrimination.
The reports from Malawi and Mozambique suggest they are lagging, way behind the rest of the world, with around 15% HIV positive, so few ventilators and poor health facilities. Many people earn income daily and have no stimulus package available for essentials. Several team members are engaged in developing substantial education programs and linguistically appropriate materials to encourage vulnerable communities to stay safe, especially in contexts with crowded living conditions. They have also been involved in developing tippy taps to motivate people washing their hands more, making face-masks and filming short educational videos about handwashing. Through all these projects they are sharing God’s hope and peace as they navigate this season with their Yawo friends.
The team in South-East Asia are providing people with hot meals and food packages. Protective gear is given out to help workers serving in medical clinics across several locations. The Thailand team report the situation is getting better. Team members are delivering food packages, especially to women, and finding people with only a day’s supply of rice left. The team members are home schooling the children.
The Cambodian team are in lockdown and home schooling their children, with schools not open again until September. Businesses are affected by significant loss of tourism, and social distancing and self-isolating have been introduced. The farmers are preparing for the planting season but are not sure if they will be able to do so. Economically people are struggling with the loss of income. Scarecrows and effigies are appearing outside houses around Siem Reap, to protect family and houses on their land and seek the power of spiritual intervention in their lives. Opportunities to address a longing for peace which is stirring deeply below the surface within their relationships are emerging. Questions about Jesus are featuring in conversations.
Despite the challenges, we can praise God for protection so far of cross-cultural workers and in countries in the five regions South Australian churches are linked to in Asia and Africa. The number of cases and deaths are low, ranging from 63 cases in Malawi to 16,006 cases in South-East Asia, and the number of deaths ranging from no deaths reported in Cambodia and Mozambique to 1,043 in South-East Asia.
Let us continue to pray, knowing that workers remaining in these communities during testing times will gain credibility. Pray for workers to discern community needs, and for the conversations to occur despite social distancing. May we be challenged to lift our eyes up to see the world with God’s compassion and sense of justice and find ways we can respond to the challenge from Hebrews 13:1-3.