The Mennonite World Conference (MWC) COVID-19 inter-agency task force has approved 21 relief proposals.
Food and sanitation materials are part of all the proposals from Anabaptist member churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With the COVID-19 fund’s assistance, local congregations in more than a dozen countries will bring relief to thousands of families, sharing the love of Christ in a tangible way with church members and their neighbours.
“It will reflect our love of Christ to them; [that] we care and are concerned for them and it will also bring smile in their faces,” says Bishop Bijoy Kumar Roul, chair of the Brethren in Christ Church in Cuttack, Odisha, India, which will provide food and health supplies for 700 households in six regions suffering from widespread job losses.
Other projects include:
- Seed assistance and microloans for greater economic self-sufficiency for farmers and entrepreneurs in Kennedougou, Burkina Faso.
- Food and health kits for 500 low-income community members in Ecuador.
- Training church leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as education, health and hygiene tutors for their communities; distributing leaflets in French, Kikongo, Lingala and Tshiluba, and spreading positive messages on radio; giving sanitation supplies to churches and schools.
- Food for members of an outpost church in Sumba, Indonesia, a small island that often escapes the attention of the Indonesian government and has no other non-governmental agencies at work.
- Aid for more than 900 households in six regions of Kisumu County, Kenya, affected by severe flooding in addition to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Financial aid for women and men whose income generation opportunities in the informal economy disappeared with pandemic lockdowns in Evangelical Mennonite churches in Angola.
- Purchase of soap, gloves, masks and thermometers, along with desks and chairs, to re-open schools and churches in compliance with government distancing and hygiene regulations in Mennonite churches in Angola.
- Training workshops, sanitation equipment and education material distribution for pastors and leaders to aid their congregations to live safely in the time of COVID-19 in Mennonite Brethren churches in Angola.
“In most cases, church members have established relationships with their most vulnerable neighbours,” says Deacons Commission secretary Henk Stenvers. “Giving out food and supplies builds on those connections and underscores the message of the love of Jesus through help in time of need and scarcity,”
Job losses and food scarcity affect church members as well.
“Assistance from the Global Church Sharing Fund empowers church leaders and their congregations to serve their members and neighbours in a time of multiple crises: pandemic, economic downturn, environmental disaster,” says task force member and Peace Commission chair Joji Pantoja.
MWC formed the COVID-19 task force with the support of more than 10 global Anabaptist agencies, including Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee, to respond to the needs arising from the pandemic in the Global South.
Under the leadership of the MWC Deacons Commission and delegates from around the world, the team determines the criteria of accountability and coordinates responses to project proposals. This interagency response maximizes the strength of diverse organizations, builds on existing networks of primary relationships and mitigates competition for scarce funds.
‘Being the church together’