May 8: Karen Thomas Smith (Interfaith Chaplaincy, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco) writes "The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for the migrant population that the church serves through it's CEI ministry. We've been on home lockdown orders since March 20 (they're set to continue until at least May 20). As the lockdown drags on, people in our church are losing their income, worried about rent, often going hungry. Those in the margins are even more vulnerable than before, as they can't even leave their homes to search for food. With help, during the month of April, our church has distributed 1139 emergency food baskets, provided medical care for 41 different individuals, and helped 57 people find or keep their housing." Read more.
Malkhaz Songhulashvili writes: "Those who have been left homeless, transgender or someone else, come to us, to the church." Read the whole article.
Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze writes: "We have coronavirus in Georgia with 35 under treatment. Two came from Iran and others have either traveled in Italy or been infected by someone from Italy. One has recovered, and another is receiving treatment. So far we are more-or-less okay.
Gatherings of 50 or more are illegal except for religious gatherings. The government is influenced by the Georgian Orthodox Church which does not want to change its common cup and spoon form of eucharist. They believe that the cup/wine is the real blood of Jesus and no virus can be transmitted. Just yesterday priests were riding through communities in the back of pickup trucks sprinkling holy water in order to protect people from the virus.
We are going to witness some major changes that will change our lives….."
Seminario Intercultural Mayanese
April 16, Dalia Juárez Fernández, seminary director writes: "Thank God I'm fine, in this last week some indigenous communities have presented fear, two people in the Simojovel area have taken their lives. COVID-13 has reached the communities, people who worked outside their communities have returned, some have arrived sick, which has caused some families to have been infected. We ask God that his protection be throughout the world."
Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba
From Stan Dotson--"Like the rest of the world, Cuba has implemented social distancing and stay-at-home measures, and various neighborhoods in which we are accustomed to visiting have been quarantined due to confirmed cases. Since we live at the Center, we are now its "staff," mainly offering the purified water to the community in the mornings. Meanwhile, Kim stays busy helping Wanda (Center Director) in making "nasobucos", face masks, for the community. Being the artist that she is, Wanda uses colorful material from old clothes, so people can be fashionable in wearing the masks! The demand for her nasobucos went up after she and Kim were featured in a local television spot for their service. In terms of church work, it is more challenging to stay connected with our community here, as people for the most part do not have internet in their homes. Some do have the WhatsApp application that allows for messaging throughout the day." Read more.
"Our clients (the majority of whom have been laid-off or had hours significantly reduced) are currently waiting on unemployment checks. The surge in unemployment applications resulted in a backlog and we are hoping they will begin to experience some relief in the next two weeks. In addition, we are seeing some completely unexpected disruptions to housing. One young woman and her daughter who were set to move seamlessly into their new apartment on April 1 will now be moving to a hotel because the County’s new personnel policies make it impossible for the required inspection to occur in time for her April 1 move-in date." Read more.
"It feels as if we are living in a nightmare. Who could have envisioned such a global shutdown? The world has come to a total standstill. Airplanes are grounded, borders closed, and billions live under quarantine. Now, all we want is to stay alive. We've come to appreciate the little things: a loaf of bread, running water, and yes, toilet paper. It might seem that the coronavirus has the entire world in its grip.
Yet, we wake up each morning. The sun shines. Air fills our lungs. In these moments, we realize that He's got the whole world in His hands. You and me, we're all in his hands." Read more.
From Philip Kakungulu of Crossing Lines Africa on March 28: "We have registered 5 new cases each day, now we are at 30 cases. However this is bse we have one testing center with very little capacity. So the virus is silently spreading in the urban and village communities.
Our markets are closed, public transport banned and people have been asked to stay home. There is panic everywhere. Our people live from.hand to mouth, so we are already seeing starvation. Schools were closed and many girl children are down in villages at big risk of violence. We have also seen a rise in domestic crime.
But we need to sensitize people as many still think that the Virus is a Joke. Read more.
From Clayton Davis, director of the Andrew P. Stewart Center: We are working to provide food and other resources to our neighbors...We are hearing from some of the residents in our houses (15 total houses) that they are worried about paying their rent and utilities for April. Several have been furloughed and others are worried they're going to lose their jobs...Gloves and masks are in-kind items that we could use as we continue to engage our neighbors with services. Read more.
From Eugenia Reyes, lay leader at Calvary Baptist Church in our nation’s capital on March 19: "Thanks for reaching out and checking on our Latino Community. Blessings to you! We are fine at this moment. No one is sick—thank God—but very scared.
Our community works so hard and with this situation there are lots of uncertainties of when they will go back to work. We all are connected through WhatsApp messages and checking, praying and giving courage to each other.
Thanks for your concern and please remember us all in your prayers.
Board president and CEO, Mitri Raheb writes on March 19: "Greetings from Bethlehem, in this Age of Coronavirus. We are well, and we thank the Lord for his protection. However, we are under home quarantine for the last 10 days. Just last evening, Bethlehem and the neighboring Christian towns (Beit Jala and Beit Sahour) are under curfew. At this moment, there are 45 infected cases, most of whom were in contact with travelers and those working at a neighboring hotel.
The impact on our ministry, which relies on tourism for 20% of our income, is devastating. We are not sure if we can keep staff, how many, how to pay salaries, etc. We are concerned that tourism will not resume before February next year. We covet your prayers and financial support to keep staff employed and the programs running. Thank you for standing with us, especially in these difficult times.”
Pastor Paulo Cesar Pereira, president of the Aliança writes on March 19: "Here in Brazil we already have 368 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but the contamination curve is upward and will grow a lot. The public offices are almost all closed, the general orientation is that everyone stays in their homes.
We have suspended all the activities of the orchestra, they are at home and we still have no cases of contamination. In the church, activities, including services, are also suspended until March 29, 2020, then we will analyze whether the suspension will continue or not.
Supermarkets are still selling normally...there is guidance so that you don't buy more than necessary. Schools and universities are all suspended classes.
Here at home we are taking the necessary care, but Rosy and Yana who are doctors are still working. I am worried but without anxiety. We are in a voluntary quarantine. Leaving only when it is necessary. It is a time of recollection and reflection...Thank you for caring about us.
We received this message from Philipini Kidulah, director of this ministry in West Pokot County, Kenya by way of Central Baptist Church, Wayne, Penn. "We are doing our best to comply with the safety measures we have been educated about by the ministry of health of Kenya.
Last Friday our president issued a directive for all schools, universities, colleges and vocational centers to close and for people to work from home whenever possible. So on Monday we closed our training center and instructed our field trainers to also pause their training activities until we get a go ahead from the authorities of when to open again." Read more from Pini.
Executive director, David Parajon, writes: "First of all, I hope that you and your family are doing ok. I really hope you feel supported by loved ones and friends nearby and that you have been safe in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Just in case you didn't already see what AMOS sent out last Friday, please check out this message on the AMOS website about how we are responding to coronavirus (COVID-19). Since we put out this message though, local authorities have confirmed the second positive case in Nicaragua as of today (March 20). Things are changing every day, but our team at AMOS is doing our best to prepare our communities, staff, and work with our in-country partners on prevention efforts.
I am so thankful for the continued support for AMOS from Alliance of Baptists. Without your partnership, it would not be possible to continue our mission of sharing health and hope with tens of thousands of vulnerable Nicaraguans. Many blessings to you from the AMOS team."
News reported to us by partners in Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Theological Seminary, African Baptist Churches of Zimbabwe, and Kentunda Children’s Home): As of March 24 Zimbabwe has closed its borders to everyone except returning residents (upon whom mandatory quarantine is imposed), has recorded two cases of COVID-19, has urged citizens to restrict their movements, and discouraged all unnecessary travel within the country.
Prior to the pandemic, Zimbabweans have been crossing into neighboring countries to purchase maize, cooking oil and other necessary supplies, because of the lack of goods in Zimbabwe and its skyrocketing inflation. With the borders now closed, food will be a tremendous challenge for everyone.
It is widely believed that governmental authorities have suppressed the number of reported cases. Pindula News published March 23: Zimbabwe is the only country with the lowest number of reported cases which is only 2 and the highest rate of death which is 50%. This doesn’t add up. We are in deep trouble.
A major hospital in Harare, designated for infectious diseases, has shut down for renovations. The shutdown has come at the same time doctors have gone on strike refusing to work without personal protective equipment.
Ketunda Childrens’ Home in Masembura is supported by Active Hope partner JourneyPartners, and it houses 24 children, two care providers, a gardener and the Maponga family. Four of the children are HIV positive, and one child is surviving a kidney transplant. Joann Davis writes concerning JourneyPartners ministry in Zimbabwe: "I am sure we are all pondering the current and frequent changes locally even as we know the global effects are unstable as well. It reminds us to live faithfully into the unknown with a present comforting God. Our Zim friends can lead the way, demonstrating resilient living with all that has oppressed them over decades--and now COVID-19. Lord have mercy. Thank you for The Alliance’s support and concern and maintaining connection. We can do this together!"
Executive director Leah Lonsbury writes: "Like everyone, we’re taking things day by day and have shifted to a delivery-only model for this time of social distancing. We’ve had an amazing response, more than we can really handle, and have filled around 185 delivery orders in just three days of delivering. We’ve had more interest than available slots each time.
Because we have such a small staff, some of whom can only work part-time, (exacerbated by no school!) we can really only stay open until a couple of our staff members are affected. Maybe not even then, depending on who else has been exposed on staff.
We’re worried about what closing completely will mean for our staff members and their families, who are already in a vulnerable position. We’re also worried about how we will be able to afford the sick and family leave law that was just put into effect. While we agree it’s 100% the right thing to do, 11 staff members needing 3 months of paid leave or more could be the end of our non-profit. There just aren’t funds to cover costs like that."
Pastor Ruth Orantes writes: "Dear brothers and sisters, It has been a difficult time as we have been in quarantine since this past Saturday. We are allowed to go out two times per week and live with a great deal of uncertainty. As a Church, we have tried to keep in contact with each other but many of our members are elderly and we are concerned about their health. Many of their relatives live in the United States so they are completely alone. Other members do not have a job or stable income. We ask that you remember us in your prayers, as we will remember you on our own."
Waldemar Murguido, financial secretary of FIBAC, writes: "Every member of the board and all members of every FIBAC church are well here at home. We have suspended worship since the country is taking measures with social isolation to prevent more cases of Coronavirus19...we are worried about the situation that is coming, but we trust God that in Resurrection some change will happen, only that Christ lives.
We already have 67 confirmed cases and two deceased, the situation is worrying. Here we receive news from the USA, about the Pandemic, mainly in the regions of New York and Washington, D.C., where there are more cases. Please take care, and write us, and let us know how you are. Our churches are praying for you and above all in our thinking, with the confidence that we will find in the future to continue praising and giving thanks to God for life. We can call a chain of prayer every day at 10:00 am. We can pray from our homes so together we can ask the Lord to improve our health and take care of Evil. Thanks for your message Jason and especially for your prayers."