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Serving in a Pandemic: Local Believers Put Faith to Action

May 15, 2020

A food distribution to families in Central AsiaBy K, serving in Central Asia

What strange times we are living in that we are all now greeting one another from quarantine all over the world. Here in Central Asia, the lockdown has been fairly intense. While we are near the original epicenter of COVID-19, we have been able to limit the spread of the virus through extreme restrictions to international border crossings, inter-country transportation and closures of all non-essential businesses. We are currently under a strict night-time curfew, with restrictions to daytime movement only for those with emergent reason and written documents. Movement around the region is forbidden, and we are no longer allowed or able to leave the country. The government has taken a very serious stance on reducing the foothold of the Coronavirus because of the limited availability of ventilators for severely affected patients (12 total in the entire country). It has been challenging, especially for vulnerable populations who are not able to work. In our country, there is no economic aid for unemployment, so the needs are vast and urgent. 

Before this all began, my small group of women was studying the book of James together each week, diving into the themes of perseverance during times of trial, as well as the idea that our faith should inevitably produce works. One of my friends immediately began looking for ways to support her neighbors, knowing that the economic impact would be immediate here (where many already live day-to-day in good times). 

bags of food to be distributed in Central AsiaAfter praying for 2 weeks for a government-issued driving pass, she miraculously obtained one, as well as a government-issued list of families in need of food.  She found a way to pool some resources from a few other families (ours included), and for the past couple of weeks now, she has been purchasing and distributing food for about 15 families on the government list.

Among those families was a young couple with two small children.  As she talked with them, she learned that they are new believers, but had been afraid to tell anyone during this time.  They told her that they were not connected to a church, so they didn't know how anyone would know that they needed help.  My friend was so excited to tell them that "this is the body of Christ, providing for you!"  She then proceeded to invite them to her home church that she is a part of, and they expressed great joy to get connected to other believers. 

Some other dear friends, Natasha* and Peter*, find themselves locked down in their village outside of the city, where some goods are much harder to come by. They are grateful to God for continuing to provide through Natasha’s job as a teacher, and Peter has felt compelled to reach out and share what they have with those who are less fortunate.

Our family has had many conversations in the past with him about how God might be asking him to serve, and while he has felt a nudge towards some sort of outreach towards kids or young people, he had been reluctant to act on that. But just today he called to tell us that he has been in touch with the local orphanage in their village where there are currently 15 kids. They have only been able to give the children rice, noodles, and some meager vegetables during this time, so Peter is now planning to purchase meat and fruit. Not only is he glad to help, he’s excited about the potential relationships that could be built through this time in hopes of future ministry opportunities.

It is encouraging to see the Body of Christ serving one another during this time of crisis. It's easy to sit at home and think not much is happening outside our own walls some days...but I'm thankful for reminders that the Spirit is at work now, just like He always has been (maybe now more than ever!).  We have been reminded of the story of Jesus leaving the 99 to find the 1, and we're so thankful that He continues to move on behalf of the 1.

 

*names changed for security and privacy