Relief distributed to pastors
By: Rev. Paul Padmaker, Executive Director BCM India
India’s first case of the COVID-19 virus was reported January 30, 2020.By the end of May 2020, this had grown to more than one hundred-fifty thousand cases and over four thousand deaths. But the effects on India’s lower income population has far surpassed the actual virus. On March 22, 2020, India’s government imposed a lockdown that brought all activity to a grinding halt. People are allowed to leave home only for few hours to fetch essential commodities. This quarantine has brought great financial loss to shop and business owners, but those most affected are daily wage labourers and migrant workers who have lost all income during the lockdown.
For BCM India, the lockdown has affected both church-planting missionaries and overall ministry. Most BCM churches are in rural areas with already minimal income. With church services closed down, offerings have dropped to almost zero, leaving pastoral families in dire need.
Thanks to a substantial donation from Professor Jayakar Dalavai for COVID-19 relief operations and a second gift from BCM International’s disaster relief fund, BCM India has conducted two stages of pandemic relief. The first provided an essential food package including rice, dal (lentils), cooking oil, wheat flour, and other items for two hundred BCM church-planting Pastors in various regions as well as for forty migrant-worker families sheltering around BCM India’s Ebenezer Prayer Center area in Kareemguda Village outside Hyderabad. The second phase provided food rations to forty-eight pastors, five widows, and one handicapped person in Orissa and Telangana states.
Along with prohibitions on regular church services pastors haven’t been able to respond to requests for pastoral visits or conduct cottage prayer meetings as no groups are allowed to gather even in homes. Curfew remains in place from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But thanks to mobile phone service, pastors are still able to offer prayers and counselling to church members and others. BCM India leadership also remains in regular touch with our pastors, district supervisors and church leaders, including regular prayer meetings with area directors, coordinators, and those missionaries with computer capability through Zoom video communications.
As of June, cases of COVID-19 remain on the rise across India, so general lockdown restrictions are expected to continue at least another six months. In green zone areas, people are now able to move more freely, though with masks. But religious services, educational institutions, entertainment venues, and all public gatherings are still prohibited. It is our prayer that people don’t remain away from church when restrictions are lifted due to continued fear of spreading of the virus.
Meanwhile, Scripture teaches in Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good unto all people, especially to those who belong to family of believers.”
It is our hope to continue with COVID-19 relief operations as more funds become available, above all to our suffering church-planting pastors, their families, and their congregations. We also thank and praise God for his protection and provision in this pandemic situation. We are looking forward to a new beginning in our ministry that we may be able reach more people with the love of Jesus Christ.
To financially support this and other BCM ministries affected by COVID-19 visit https://bcmintl.org/covid-19-relief-fund/.
Relief packets being prepared; Prepared relief packets; Relief delivered to widows