Even though lockdown measures may be lifting for countries in Europe and America, others are still grappling with the coronavirus.
Of course, the hot topic on most everyone's mind at this time is COVID-19. That is no different here in India. Most of the country was waiting anxiously to hear what decision the Prime Minister would make about the deadline for the "curfew" imposed earlier.
Unfortunately for many, the curfew has been extended, though we'll see how it actually plays out. Things change a lot here in India.
One thing is for sure: most of the population is still not able to work, and food is scarce in many homes. Most people here are "hand-to-mouth" daily laborers, setting little or nothing aside for the rainy days. The majority have been very hard-hit by the lockdown measures; they are shocked and frightened about the future.
What we did not expect was how this entire situation would turn into an incredible opportunity to bless many people's lives during this time.
God’s Great Provision
We are very thankful for an unusual surplus of funds at this time, plus some additional help being given from World Challenge—our main sponsor to the widows—so that we can reach out to many of those suffering during this lockdown.
So far, we have a budget of about $9,500 to feed around 750 villagers and to help 24 pastors and their families. We are working on the first major distribution now and planning for a second in most of the nine villages where these families live. Already, we have had to be wise with compassion.
Before we offer food packages, we conduct surveys to see how many families actually live in an area and to assess their level of need. This allows us to focus on those who are truly in a desperate position, particularly young children who will suffer from the lack of nutrition. We have had people who hear that there is food be offered at our gatherings and will travel into these villages to plead, or demand, a portion.
It's only our Father's love and grace that has provided the funds for these food gifts, and we're hoping that every opportunity and distribution will ultimately lead people to his great salvation and into a closer walk with Christ.
As with the prodigal son in Luke 15, it's often in a time of brokenness and lack that the heart is humbled and opened up to the gospel.
Ministering to the Lowest Caste
Most of the villagers we're working with are what we call " scheduled tribe" people or “Dalit” within the caste system. They are oftentimes among the poorest in India. Many work in crematoriums, are rat-catchers in the fields (often making the rats part of their diet), fishermen, sewage cleaners or whatever jobs are considered too unpleasant or ‘unclean’ for the higher castes.
Most are illiterate and struggle with poor health as a result of their work, but our GOD loves them and sent his own Son to die for them. What a joy to be a part of his love in reaching out to them!
We are very thankful for our donors and prayer partners, especially as we lay the future in God’s hands. We are praying about a third distribution in early or mid-May, depending on the duration of the lockdown and the level of the people's need.
We would not be able to minister to these people without God’s love working through you!