INDIA — Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada) founded by Dr. K.P. Yohannan – Discussing how COVID-19 is seriously affecting those in Asia and hoe Gospel for Asia workers are combating this in a two-tiered approach.
COVID-19 poses a dual threat to the lives and livelihood of Asia’s citizens. Gospel for Asia workers fight the virus and its effects with a two-tiered approach, serving the physical and spiritual needs of people across the continent.
According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the total confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines surpasses 2.5 million, as of this writing. More than 1.9 million of those cases were reported in India.
COVID-19’s Intensified Impact in Impoverished Areas
While COVID-19 has proven it is not a respecter of persons—targeting young and old, healthy and immuno-compromised—it carries with it the increased potential for deadly impact for those living in poverty.
Preventative measures, like lockdowns, have helped slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. However, in South Asia particularly, they have also kept numerous daily wage laborers from work. For these workers, many of whom live on less than $2.00 a day, the money they earn each day provides the necessary funds for their next meal. Without income and without food, the illnesses caused by despair and starvation threaten to play an equally devastating role in claiming lives.
In addition to difficulty securing food, many living in Asia’s poorest areas are also limited in access to sanitation and medical supplies. Villagers are left without simple resources like soap and running water to help prevent the virus. Meanwhile, villages lack the medicines and technologies important in helping to fight the virus’ arrival, and densely populated areas exacerbate the potential for fatal impact.
Gospel for Asia Workers’ Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
“You know the greatest need? [For] people to hear the love of Christ in word and in deed,” Gospel for Asia founder, K.P. Yohannan, stated.
GFA workers all around Asia are working hard to do exactly that. They are uniquely positioned to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of people in their own communities. Even in the midst of regional and national shutdowns, believers from many churches and other ministries have had the opportunity to work with the government to provide relief during this difficult time.
In Madhya Pradesh, India, GFA pastor Ranbir and the local community of believers worked together to make 220 masks. They handed out the masks throughout their village, along with vital information on how to properly wear the mask, the importance of regularly washing hands and social distancing.
GFA workers presented a virus prevention event in conjunction with the local government of Uttar Pradesh, India. Following strict safety guidelines and social distancing regulations, the 200 women in attendance received coronavirus prevention kits, which included a bar of soap and a sari.
Still another community of believers distributed more than 2,000 food packets to migrant workers journeying from 10 neighboring areas. One 43-year-old woman walked approximately 250 miles when she couldn’t find work. The church offered her food and a place to rest when she could find neither.
“We did not eat food for two days,” she said. “We are so happy. I am thankful to [the church] for providing the food.”
Stories of Sorrow, Stories of Triumph
Gospel for Asia workers themselves have not been immune to COVID-19. Many believers know first-hand the experience of fighting coronavirus and, sadly, mourning the loss of loved ones to the disease. While they provide material blessings to those in need, they also serve their communities with spiritual support.
In the region of Chennai, India, labeled one of the world’s 10 most densely populated cities, GFA workers have reported several urgent prayer requests for healing as the number of COVID-19 infections rises.
One husband and wife were hospitalized with coronavirus after attending the funeral of a relative who passed away from COVID-19. They left their children in the care of the children’s grandparents as they fought for their own recovery. Tragically, the wife lost her father, brother and brother-in-law to the illness.
After much prayer from believers within their community on their behalf, the couple recovered and were discharged from the hospital. While praising God for the couple’s healing, the believers also mourned with them the loss of family members.
Several GFA pastors, including 28-year-old Pastor Rayen in southeastern India, have been diagnosed with coronavirus and are isolated from their families. Other pastors have spoken with believers who were in tears after learning of the passing of a family member due to the virus.
While fighting the virus’s effects in their families and communities, believers in Asia lean on prayer and hold on to hope in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
GFA workers have also employed the use of technology to encourage one another during this time. K.P.’s wife, Gisela, recorded a letter of encouragement for the Women’s Fellowship. The audio format of the letter broke past barriers of illiteracy and prompted two women to stop and listen in as their neighbor played the recording. Afterward, touched by Gisela’s words, they approached their neighbor to learn more and to ask for prayer.
Though at times there may seem to be no end in sight to the spread of COVID-19, GFA workers persist in hope and in their practical efforts to serve their communities. They continually pray for the virus to be stopped in its tracks, for wisdom for government officials and for resources to continue sharing the love of Christ through their words and their deeds.
Read another story on how the Lord is using GFA to bring relief to those in need during Covid-19.