The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe is bringing death and destruction. We at GFA and our field partners have entered an all-out crisis response mode to immediately help the most destitute: the beggars who now have no way of receiving alms, the daily labourers without jobs, people living on the street, and anyone else in need and at risk of starvation.
With a wide reach of thousands of congregations and fellowship groups spread throughout South Asia, we are in a unique position to provide aid where others cannot.
See photos from those who are on the ground and read reports about the relief efforts as we provide food and medical supplies to those in need. Please join us in this long-term effort as we seek to help millions who are affected.
Just in from the field: Our workers in West Bengal hosted a food distribution to provide for those in need during the shutdown due to the coronavirus.
Jesus said people would know His disciples by their love for one another (John 13:34–35). GFA workers have dedicated their lives to showing Christ’s love in practical ways, and their opportunity to do so has been plentiful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Various workers have reached out to help the communities in which they serve every day, aiding neighbours and showing them love in time of need.
In one ministry area, more than 30 workers and believers helped 16,279 people—including women, children and the elderly—through various distributions of essential items.
“This relief work is amazing as we get to help poor people,” said GFA worker Barret. “I could see their happy faces when they were receiving the things from us. They shared about the struggles of their daily life and that they are in need of money.”
A Bridge of Hope staff member gives a boy food. Many Bridge of Hope children rely on the center to provide essentials, such as daily meals.
Leaders distributed masks and grocery items in partnership with a local government official, who was overjoyed to witness their relief work. One church provided lunch to 75 police officers working the front lines during the COVID-19 crisis. Women’s Fellowship groups and numerous pastors and churches distributed food and other assistance to neighbors in need.
Bridge of Hope centres became food distribution centres, helping needy families within the communities they serve year-round. Within this area alone, Bridge of Hope staff members distributed 700 masks, 120 hand sanitizer bottles, 532 ration kits, 20 water bottles, 13,837 meals and 55 bars of soap.
The items distributed brought much-needed relief.
“These things will be helpful for me to feed my family in this critical situation,” said Sabeen, a distribution recipient.
Relief efforts brought joy to the givers as well.
“I am so happy to be involved in this relief work,” said Jaevin, a GFA worker. “I could see the struggles of poor people for [their] livelihood, and God helped us to help them.”
Encouraging One Another
Church leaders have also been busy encouraging fellow believers during this difficult season. Pastors encouraged believers to pray for each other, the community and the nation. Though they could not gather as a group, believers fasted and conducted prayer chains, praying together through conference calls and other virtual means.
GFA workers distribute food to needy community members.
Sisters within the Women’s Fellowships have been encouraged by messages from Gisela Yohannan as well as a conference call from their bishop, admonishing them to continue God’s work faithfully in this critical situation.
Leaders concluded that though people have been struggling for various reasons throughout the pandemic, God has been good to His people. They have drawn closer to Him through prayer and reading God’s Word. God has done great things through His Church, and they are thankful for His grace and blessings upon them and the ongoing ministry.
March 09, 2021
Without Work but Not Hope
In industrial areas of the developing world, many inhabitants are fully dependent on mills and factories for their survival. But when those businesses closed due to the lockdown, workers suddenly found themselves without the work they depended upon to feed their families. Though they feared the virus, they feared starvation even more. Unable to provide for themselves or leave their homes, they could only hope someone would bring them food.
GFA workers have been diligently distributing food among those in need, working with local government officials and following COVID-19 guidelines. In one community, a Bridge of Hope team distributed 103 food kits containing rice, lentils, chickpeas, mustard oil, sugar and salt to needy factory workers and their families. The provision filled recipients’ hearts with joy and gratitude.
GFA workers distributed 103 food kits to needy factory workers and their families.
“Due to COVID-19, we have struggled a lot, especially for food,” Radlee, a recipient, said.
“Today, I am deeply thankful to [Bridge of Hope], that they have helped us by providing all these required provisions to us.”
Other GFA Bridge of Hope locations have also served as distribution sites to provide for families unable to work during the lockdown. In one island village, GFA workers partnered with local police and government officials to distribute 81 kits containing food items as well as soap to Bridge of Hope children and their families.
A Bridge of Hope student happily carries provisions to her home.
Ninth grader Paysli is without a father and has a disabled brother. Her mother struggles as the sole breadwinner in their family.
“I am extremely happy to receive the ration kits from [Bridge of Hope],” Paysli said. “This is very helpful and valuable to us during this crisis.”
Aalisha is in the third grade. Her father earns a living as an auto rickshaw driver.
“Due to the lockdown, my father could not go for work and [was] finding it difficult to meet the needs at home,” Aalisha said. “I will remember forever [GFA Bridge of Hope], who has helped me and my family with the ration kits.”
These families may be unable to earn an income in their present circumstances, but thanks to GFA workers they are not without provision or hope.
February 24, 2021
Encouraging Students in Word and Deed
Numerous GFA World Bridge of Hope centres have organized food distributions to help their students and surrounding communities. Along with providing physical food, workers have distributed food for the soul as they encouraged participants in the midst of their struggles.
“[Don’t think] that you are alone in your sufferings,” GFA worker Jabez told participants at one distribution event. “Lots of people are there to care for you and think about your betterment. Stay encouraged as you receive this ration kit today.”
Many centres have invited local government leaders to participate in these events. Speakers have covered an array of topics, including taking care of one’s health and family—with an emphasis on COVID-19 awareness and prevention—making good choices in life, and ensuring a solid future. Several encouraged students to study well despite the pandemic-related obstacles.
“To live in the world is not easy, as there are lots of challenges and difficulties,” said GFA worker Natal. “In the midst of these problems and difficulties, we should love and help one another as we can, and we also need to overcome together by doing good work.”
Natal also encouraged children in attendance to remember, and give priority to, their responsibilities and studies.
“No education, no future,” he concluded.
Food items and encouraging words filled students’ hearts with joy.
An Expression of Love
GFA workers and Bridge of Hope staff have encouraged students to stand strong in adversity and reminded students of their love for them.
“Though the centres are closed due to COVID-19, we are praying for you and love you,” said GFA worker Taggart. “Today, what you are going to receive is the expression of our love to you all.”
He also encouraged them to love one another and become useful people for society.
Macia is a student who received food at one of the distributions.
“I am deeply grateful to [Bridge of Hope] staff and leaders for their love and care for my life,” Macia said. “I have learned many good things from the centre, and now you are giving me the dry ration kits. I will never forget such an act of kindness in my life.”
Gabirel, a student at a different Bridge of Hope centre, also expressed his gratitude.
A Bridge of Hope student happily displays the ration kit she received.
“The project [centre] is helping us as always, even though the situation around us is very gloomy and the whole world is in financial crisis,” Gabirel said. “I will be ever grateful to the church and the project center for helping us.”
Though unable to hold regular activities, Bridge of Hope continues, through these life-saving provisions, to be a beacon of hope and love to the children and communities it serves.
February 4, 2021
Bringing Hope to the Red Zone
No one in. No one out. Nadea’s village had been declared part of a “red zone,” a hotspot for the coronavirus that was sweeping the region and in need of containment. Her government was working hard to protect its citizens amid a complex pandemic, and preventative measures included such restrictions.
Girl receives food kit for her family at a local Bridge of Hope centre.
Nadea’s mother, Ferrah, worked as a maid to provide for her family. Now she couldn’t leave her home. She and many of their neighbors, also daily laborers, lost their jobs after their home village became a containment zone. They were left with no way to provide for their families. And, as travel to the area was strictly prohibited, they had little hope of help from the outside.
With families facing starvation, the government relaxed restrictions to allow helping hands inside Nadea’s village. But who would help? Who would dare risk contamination to render aid?
Help and Hope Arrive
Then Nadea and Ferrah heard GFA workers from five local Bridge of Hope centres were organizing food distributions within the “red zone.” They came wearing masks and maintaining social distance, but they came. With the support of government officials, they came. They came bearing hope in the form of more than 400 food kits, each containing essentials such as rice, beans, lentils, oil, chickpeas, spices and tea powder.
The items filled recipients’ hearts with joy.
“My mother lost her job, and since then we are struggling to meet our needs,” Nadea said. “I am thankful to the Church and [Bridge of Hope] for helping us.”
Left: Bridge of Hope students carry provisions home to their families. Right: Boy in a “red zone” receives much-needed relief items from GFA worker Jaivon.
Bana, a food-kit recipient, was amazed at the display of compassion shown by these dedicated servants.
“I have heard so much about the Christians, that they help others, but today I have seen that with my own eyes,” Bana said. “I am so grateful for the work which you are doing.”
Sinjin, who lives in the same region as Nadea and her mother, spent all his savings during the lockdown, leaving him with no money to buy food. The kit he received from Bridge of Hope would allow him to feed his family.
“I have no words to express my gratitude,” Sinjin said.
January 14, 2021
Sisters Bring Warmth, COVID-19 Awareness in Slums
Slum dwellers in Asia, already financially destitute, have suffered severely during the pandemic-related lockdown. But GFA Sisters of Compassion, such as Phaedra, have found ways to continually help them, providing food and other essentials as well as raising awareness of the virus and its prevention.
Warm Clothes for Slum Children
Though worship services in the slum where Sister Phaedra serves were discontinued because of the lockdown, she and other GFA Sisters of Compassion resumed visiting families once restrictions relaxed, bringing encouragement and help.
Serving in a colder climate in Asia, these Sisters noticed children in the slum lacked warm clothing to protect themselves from the oncoming winter. Already battling the pandemic, the Sisters knew enduring the cold without proper clothing would add to the children’s struggles.
Filled with compassion, the Sisters collected warm clothing from the local church and returned to the slum. They went house to house, distributing the clothes and praying with families. Their visit brought warmth to both body and soul.
Left: The Sisters gathered women in small groups to teach them about the coronavirus and its prevention. Right: Children receive warm clothes from a Sister of Compassion.
Clarie, a child living in the slums, received warm clothes from the Sisters.
“You helped us with our needs,” Clarie said. “With the help of these warm clothes, we can protect ourselves from the cold weather.”
Like many during the pandemic, Raanan has struggled to feed his children.
“I am thankful to the Church,” Raanan said, “[which] is helping us to [survive] in every situation.”
The Sisters also recognized the rise of coronavirus cases and took initiative to bring awareness among the slum residents, knowing that many had not yet heard of the negative effects of the virus and were not taking the necessary precautions to avoid exposure. Keeping within government restrictions, the team gathered small groups of women to teach them about the virus, its effects and preventing its spread. Sister Batya shared about proper hygiene, such as sanitizing their hands regularly, and other precautions one should take to safeguard themselves and their families from the virus.
“We have heard about the virus, but we are not aware that the virus is harmful to us,” said one participant. “I thank the Sisters for helping us to understand about coronavirus.”
In the midst of a pandemic, GFA Sisters of Compassion continue helping the downtrodden, showing love and care to people others may have overlooked.
December 30, 2020
COVID-19 Relief Helps Man Continue Cancer Treatments
Idalia watched her 65-year-old husband, Tahan, grow weaker and frailer day by day. Had the cancer accelerated its course of destruction, or was it something else? She wasn’t sure what she could do for her husband, especially now as a mysterious illness called COVID-19 spread across their nation—and the entire world.
Idalia had heard slivers of news about it, and now her prime minister was calling for a nationwide lockdown. Information and precautions about the virus changed rapidly as more and more people became infected.
Strict lockdowns seemed to be the most successful option in curbing the infection rate, but that meant Idalia no longer had a job as a domestic servant, cleaning dishes, clothes and bathrooms. It had been their only source of income, and her husband—who was fighting for his life—depended on her.
Anxiety threatened to overwhelm Idalia as she thought about their current situation. There were too many unknowns. When would the lockdown end? Could she get her job back? How would Tahan continue the medical treatments he needed to survive cancer?
News had surfaced that older individuals and those with pre-existing medical conditions were more at risk of COVID-19 severely impacting their already-compromised health. Her husband fell into the “at-risk” category, but they couldn’t worry about that. Not now. It was more important to find a way to get him his cancer treatment—and to eat. Food rations had diminished in their home, and without a job or savings, Idalia wondered how she would feed them.
Idalia and Tahan received much-needed provisions after losing their only source of income because of the pandemic.
“I was desperately in tension because I lost my job,” Idalia recalled, “and I had no money for my husband’s treatment as well as to eat at home.”
Tahan knew he couldn’t offer his wife the help she needed, not with his weakening condition. The additional stress of the ongoing pandemic only exasperated the situation.
“I cannot do anything because of my sickness,” he said. “Tension and turmoil were making me weaker and weaker day by day. But I never stopped praying to God for our daily living, though I was desperate in my heart.”
Tahan and Idalia had a strong faith in the living God. Before the pandemic, they were active in worshiping Christ with other believers and enjoyed the fellowship. Now, as they remained isolated, their faith had a chance to deepen as they waited on the Lord.
Even though the pandemic had put a temporary end to the regular gathering of believers, Tahan and Idalia’s GFA pastor, Lazaro, made sure his congregation was taken care of. Like many other GFA pastors, Lazaro stayed connected to the people the Lord had entrusted to his care, whether via phone calls or text messages. He knew of the difficulties Idalia and Tahan endured, and with the support of others, Pastor Lazaro delivered much-needed hope.
Wearing a mask and bearing 66 pounds of rice, four pounds each of sugar and lentils, mustard oil, health drinks, salt, bottles of hand soap and an envelope with money for Tahan’s cancer treatments, Pastor Lazaro made a special visit to see Tahan and Idalia.
“In such a difficult time,” Idalia said, “[the church] armed me with needed money and dry rations.”
It was the day their tension and turmoil ceased. The pandemic had threatened to steal Idalia and Tahan’s peace, safety and health, but the compassion of others gave them strength to make it through and much-needed provisions to help Tahan beat cancer.
November 20, 2020
More Than 100,000 People Receive Provision During Crisis
Much of Asia continues to be on some level of coronavirus-related lockdowns. Though GFA World’s Bridge of Hope has been unable to hold its regular activities, the centres have not been idle. Bridge of Hope and other GFA workers have continued to impact children, their families and entire communities as they have offered helping hands in time of great need.
In recent months, tens of thousands of food kits have been distributed, which included essential items such as rice, lentils, flour, beans, cooking oil and sugar. These distributions focused on children enrolled in Bridge of Hope, many whose parents are daily wage labourers who have been unable to work, but also included other local families in need.
“When we heard the centre is closed, we were sad,” said Lalita, a 14-year-old student. “But you did not forget us; rather you remembered us. Thank you for showing your love by providing these valuable ration items during this crisis.”
Sabah is a 13-year-old student at another centre. Like many in the area, her family is undergoing a financial crisis.
“Sometimes we are not able to buy our daily needs,” Sabah said. “[Bridge of Hope] is helping us with these ration items. Thank you for your precious help.”
Many centres, in partnership with local government and school officials, held programs in conjunction with food distributions during which GFA pastors and other invited guests encouraged participants as well as raised awareness of the coronavirus and preventing its spread.
Mr. Bhoj, a local government leader, participated in a program in the area.
“Children are the future of our nation,” said Mr. Bhoj. “Helping them in their need will make a great impact on their future. I really thank the Church and its leadership.”
Numerous children, parents and other recipients expressed gratitude for the GFA workers’ concern and care in their time of need, giving them “hope for living” in this time of crisis, as one student said.
Charitrya is a widow with five children, one of whom is enrolled in Bridge of Hope. Unable to earn money as a domestic worker, Charitrya has been struggling to feed her family.
“There were days when we had nothing to eat,” said Charitrya. “This ration kit has come as a relief to us. I am thankful to all the leaders for providing this to us.”
Pushkar’s parents are among the many daily labourers who have been unable to work.
“During this pandemic, my parents are really struggling to meet even one-time meal at home,” he said. “Today, I am deeply grateful to [Bridge of Hope] centre for giving me and my family the ration kits.”
Prema is another student. “I am happy to get the ration kit today,” she said. “I am forever grateful to all my teachers and other staff, because they really take good care of us and help us to grow in every way.”
Lessons at Bridge of Hope extend far beyond academic studies, shaping young people to be individuals of character who will make a positive impact on their communities.
Another student, Udah, has experienced the impact of Bridge of Hope.
“The project centre has really helped me to improve in many areas like good behavior, good manners, and I am definitely encouraged so much and doing well in my studies, too,” he said. “I am always grateful to all the teachers and staff. I am also thankful for the ration kit provided to us today and for teaching us the measures to be taken against COVID-19 virus.”
In addition to encouraging students to study well and obey their parents, teachers lead by example. Perhaps through serving their students and the community in this time of crisis, GFA workers are teaching students valuable lessons by example even when they can’t be in the classroom.
Tegbir, a student at another centre, gratefully received food items and observed his teachers’ example.
“I was filled with joy in my heart,” he said. “When I grow up, I will serve the people by helping their needs.”
Anisah, another student, also expressed heartfelt thanks.
“I will never forget such good work in my life,” she said. “Thank you, [Bridge of Hope] leaders, for your love and concern for each one of us.”
Though it has been four months since Cyclone Amphan tore through West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh, the area remains wrought with devastation. Main pathways have been cleared, but exposed tree trunks, dead branches and pieces of metal fencing still litter the land.
A GFA team, led by Bishop Justin Mor Thomas, prays before beginning distribution.
GFA workers continue to bring relief to victims of Cyclone Amphan, which was the largest displacement event of the year, causing 3.3 million people to flee for safety while many of their homes were demolished. With many of these laborers already unable to work because of the COVID-19-related shutdown, the devastation compounded hardship and left them with little more than the clothes on their backs. People are living in great despair, agony and misery, said a GFA field report. But GFA workers are offering help and hope.
In a single day in June, under the leadership of Bishop Justin Mor Thomas, GFA workers distributed essentials such as rice, lentils, soap, salt, lanterns, matches and masks to 150 people who were affected by the cyclone. Members of the local police force also participated in the distribution.
“We faced difficulties in surviving as there was no income and no food to eat,” said Shrimayi, a 55-year-old recipient whose mud house and belongings were swept away in the storm. “We were suffering as we did not get help from any other sources. Today, I am thankful to [GFA workers] for extending their helping hands toward me and providing me ration items.”
Tabassum, another recipient, lives with her daughter-in-law and disabled son, who has been unable to earn an income.
Left: An elderly woman receives ration items from Bishop Justin Mor Thomas. Right: A Sister of Compassion gives a woman much-needed ration items.
“My family was going through lots of troubles and sadness in life,” Tabassum said. “But today, I am happy that God really helped me with the ration items at the right time. I want to thank [GFA workers] for such great help.”
Amid continued devastation are continued efforts by the Lord’s servants to bring hope to the hopeless and food to the hungry.
When the lockdown in South Asia first began, GFA pastor Ibraheem rushed to the store to buy provisions and was stopped by a huge crowd gathered in front of the store. Because of the lockdown, residents were only allowed to leave their home to shop for essentials during a small window of time each day. Pastor Ibraheem maneuvered his way through the crowd to the shopkeeper with his list. The shopkeeper told Ibraheem he would gather the items and instructed him to come back later to pick up his order.
When Pastor Ibraheem left the market, he ran in to Kshantu, a 50-year-old man who attended his church. The men talked about the strange times they were living through and Pastor Ibraheem asked how Kshantu’s family was coping with the pandemic and lockdown. Kshantu told the pastor that he could not go to work because of the lockdown. Because Kshantu was a daily wage laborer, his family lived off each day’s earnings and no work meant no money; no money meant no food. Pastor Ibraheem’s heart broke when he heard Kshantu’s struggles. He prayed for Kshantu and his family, that God would provide for them and carry them through this difficult time. Kshantu left but Ibraheem remained, deep in thought.
Before he could return to the store to pick up his grocery items, Pastor Ibraheem met another member of his church, Pallab, who greeted him with a haggard face. The pastor knew this family was going through a very difficult time. Pallab’s wife had recently miscarried. The grief of losing their child was compounded by the hospital bill, which ate up their daily earnings. Now, with the lockdown, Pallab could not work to build their finances back up. Their family faced starvation. Everything seemed stacked against this hard-working man and his wife.
GFA Pastor Ibraheem (pictured right) learned two families in his congregation were facing starvation during the lockdown because Kshantu (pictured left) and Pallab, the head of their households, could not work. Pastor Ibraheem added large bags of flour to his personal grocery list to help feed the families. Kshantu gratefully accepts a 22-pound bag of flour.
Pastor Ibraheem encouraged Pallab to keep trusting God through the difficult times. God knew his struggles and had a plan to help Pallab’s family. Pastor Ibraheem’s prayers brought relief to Pallab and gave him the strength to keep trusting God.
Pastor Ibraheem hurried back to the shop to pick up his items. When he arrived, he added 44 pounds of flour to his order.
After lugging the sacks of groceries home, Ibraheem called Kshantu and Pallab to come over, and he presented each man with 22 pounds of flour to feed their families. The men were grateful for God’s unexpected provision and their pastor’s care and concern touched their hearts.
“God knows our hearts and minds,” Kshantu said. “So, He sent the provision items through His servant. I am very thankful to [the church].”
Pallab agreed. “The church has helped us in the time of needs [when nobody knew] about our condition,” he said. “I am so grateful to the church.”
Both men’s faith has grown because of God’s help through Pastor Ibraheem.
There are many more families like Kshantu’s and Pallab’s who need help during these difficult times. Daily wage laborers, numbering in the millions, have been hit hard by the pandemic induced lockdown. GFA workers are meeting the needs of many people through food distributions. Local congregations are coming together to help each other with basic needs, much like the early church.
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” —Acts 2:44–45 (ESV)
October 12, 2020
Shared Heart Compels Two Men to Meet Common Need
Menahem and Raheem are two men from two villages. Both serve as secretaries in GFA churches, both took their pastors’ words to heart, both were compelled to action. Neither sought honor or recognition. Menahem and Raheem are just two ordinary believers who took compassion on neighbors in need and sought to help them and show the love of Christ in practical ways.
Thirty families now have food as a result.
Reaching Out to Neighbors in Need
Despite early success in containing the coronavirus in Odisha, cases recently spiked, with 10,000 new cases in just 15 days. This spike followed the return home of 150,000 migrant workers, who had left to find work elsewhere and now added to the number of people in the area unable to work or provide food for their families.
Throughout the pandemic Menahem’s pastor encouraged his congregation to reach out to those around them. There were many who could use a helping hand, who needed to know they weren’t alone, who waited to receive hope.
Seeing the needs of neighbors, Menahem and his family packed dry ration kits that included rice, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes and gave them to 15 families in need, many of them of other faiths. His pastor and an elder of the church helped distribute the food.
Left: Harusha receives food items from Menahem. Right: After two months with no income, Dipali receives dry rations to feed her family.
Dipali was one recipient. Her family of five somehow managed with the meager daily wages her husband typically earned as a tractor driver, but he has been unable to work for two months during the lockdown.
“We have not received any wages,” Dipali said. “So we had to borrow some money from our neighbor to meet the daily needs of our family. We want to thank you so much for your great help amidst this crisis.”
Harusha also received a dry ration kit for her family.
“We as a family want to thank God and the church leaders for helping us during this global crisis,” Harusha said. “Though we do not belong to their faith, they showed love and care to us. We thank them and pray for God’s blessings upon them.”
Ministering to Ministers
Meanwhile, Raheem, secretary at another GFA church, was compelled to reach out to local pastors in need. These ministers faithfully serve their communities but have struggled to feed their own families during this time. Raheem invited 15 pastors from various denominations to his home to receive a grocery kit containing essential items such as soap, rice, beans, oil, sugar, salt, spices, lentils, peas and potatoes. Joy filled the hearts of Raheem and his family as they eased the burden of these ministers.
For two months Pastor Geet was unable to conduct meetings or visit his congregants. As an independent pastor, he does not receive a monthly salary; he and his family are dependent on offerings for their income. They have had to borrow from others to manage during the lockdown.
“We as a family want to thank God for His mercy and express our thankfulness to Brother Raheem’s family, too, for helping us during this crisis,” Pastor Geet said. “I pray that God blesses you from above.”
A pastor prays over dry ration kits.
Pastor Keshaun from a local Baptist church was also grateful for this act of love.
“I thank God for the groceries I received today,” Pastor Keshaun said. “Your church is doing a great work by helping people in this lockdown period. … You are being taught well by your church. We as a family want to thank your church leaders and the believers, and we pray for God’s blessings upon all of you.”
Like Menahem and Raheem, entire congregations have been putting love into action as they feed the hungry. The need is great but together these believers are impacting communities with the tangible love of Christ in the midst of difficult circumstances.
September 25, 2020
Providing Tea for Elderly Despite Lockdown
Bastavar watched the members of his home for the elderly, a small voice of worry nagging at the back of his mind. In times of normalcy, he and his team of workers cared for the 26 residents of the nursing home, taking residents to doctor’s appointments, helping bathe them, providing daily meals, organizing special outings and offering various forms of entertainment to keep the older men and women happy, healthy and comfortable. Bastavar’s team funded it all with the help of charitable donations.
The tea supplies provided by Giransh and Pahalvan will help Bastavar continue caring for his residents, like this 98-year-old man.
But after a COVID-19 lockdown went into effect in their region, Bastavar found himself needing more help. Most of what he provided for the residents could be taken care of; what he needed was supplies to make tea. Serving tea twice a day quickly burned through the supplies Bastavar already had. However, he knew whom to call.
Some days later, GFA workers Giransh and Pahalvan visited the elderly home with 143 pounds of sugar, tea leaves and milk powder to help bolster Bastavar’s supplies. Giransh and Pahalvan, with a local police officer who accompanied them in accordance with lockdown guidelines, unloaded the cargo, much to Bastavar’s happiness.
“I am thankful for this generous gift from [GFA workers],” he said. “I am able to operate the [nursing home] because I care for them, but I cannot do it alone and need support to get more facilities and food supplies. Through this gift of milk powder, sugar and tea leaves I am able to provide tea for all the [residents]. Tea is the most wanted commodity. … Thank you very much.”
Because GFA workers continuously minister to the people in their communities, people like Bastavar know who they can depend on in a time of need.
September 11, 2020
Produce Delivered with Love
Akash sat in his idle auto-rickshaw and thoughtfully rubbed the steering wheel. With no one allowed to travel, there was no one to transport; with no one to transport, there was no way to provide for his family. Like so many in Asia, the lockdown prevented Akash from earning an income. Including Akash’s elderly parents, there were seven mouths in his home to feed, seven stomachs that were hungry. Then Akash met GFA pastor Kulwinder.
Hope on a Motorbike
Pastor Kulwinder had procured vegetables from local vendors, who had contributed the otherwise costly produce free of charge. Mounting his motorbike, Pastor Kulwinder traveled to four villages in Sri Lanka to distribute the groceries, which included pumpkin, beans, leeks, cucumbers, carrots and cabbage, to 29 needy families from various faith backgrounds.
“We were going through a very difficult time because of COVID-19 lockdown, as I could not drive the [auto-rickshaw] like before for earning the income,” Akash said. “I thank this Christian [pastor] who met me on the road and gave this free bag of vegetables, which is a great blessing to my family.”
“I have received this blessed gift of a vegetable kit from a Christian church, which I cannot believe but it is true.”
While giving out groceries, Pastor Kulwinder also met Hiruni, whose husband had a small business. After a three-month curfew and loss of income, however, he was forced to shut it down. They have four school-aged children.
“We were in need of money to get our provisions and vegetables but didn’t have enough,” Hiruni said. “I have received this blessed gift of a vegetable kit from a Christian church, which I cannot believe but it is true.”
Left: Auto-rickshaw driver Akash (pictured), who has been unable to work, receives much-needed vegetables for his family. Middle: Pastor Kulwinder distributes groceries from his motorbike. Right: Like Hiruni, this woman gratefully receives groceries from Pastor Kulwinder, which enables her to feed her family.
Persistent in Love
Pastor Kulwinder has been involved in compassion activities throughout the lockdown, distributing vegetables to families in most need. He has overcome many challenges and remained within COVID-19 regulations to reach these families with much-needed aid.
“By the grace of God, I was able to be a blessing once again to 29 more deserving families,” Pastor Kulwinder said. “I prayed and gave each vegetable bag to all these families. … I want to continue this ministry through the generous contribution of the vegetable vendors. I will do my best to help the people in my community in times of need.”
Through his prayers and practical acts of love, a few families have come to personally know the great Provider.
August 31, 2020
Pastor, Wife Provide Fresh Vegetables to Families During Lockdown
As the clock struck half past 3 in the morning, GFA pastor Kulwinder and his wife, Banubai, were already up. In these twilight hours, they had work to do. Astride his motorcycle, Pastor Kulwinder had two to three trips to the market planned out to gather enough supplies for he and Banubai to package and distribute that day. They wanted to get to as many houses as possible.
For the past two weeks, both pastor and wife had been collecting, packaging and distributing food packages of fresh vegetables for needy families in seven different villages in South Asia. After getting permission from local authorities, Pastor Kulwinder and Banubai set about blessing those struggling during the COVID-19 lockdown. Some vegetable vendors, hearing of their work, gave them free produce, happy they could help needy families through the pastor.
Later that day, after multiple trips to the market and several hours of activity, the last batch of families had vegetable packets in their arms.
“I work as a road sweeper for [the local village] but during the COVID lockdown I didn’t have work and didn’t receive my wages,” Chayla, a recipient, said. “I have three children. Today I received this very valuable vegetable bag from [Pastor Kulwinder], which is a great blessing to my family.”
Left: Pastor Kulwinder and his wife put together food packets with a wide variety of vegetables to help people who have been unable to buy groceries for weeks because of the pandemic. Right: Banubai, pictured right, hands a bag of fresh vegetables to a thankful woman during one of their many distributions.
Another recipient, Sharaya, said, “Thank you so much for the special gift of mixed vegetables. I worked as a farm helper in the village chicken farm, and my husband worked as a helper in a grocery shop in our village. We both don’t have a job since March 12, 2020. Thank you so much for these fresh vegetables because we don’t have money to buy anything until we start to work.”
Pastor Kulwinder thanked God for the opportunity to spread His love during this tumultuous time.
“Even with our little resources and the fair vendors’ donations, we were able to do a great task and serve our people,” the pastor said. “I believe God will bless these families.”
August 14, 2020
Believers Not Alone in Time of Isolation
Pandemic lockdowns have caused physical and financial struggles as well as isolation, which has been felt especially among believers in South Asia who have been unable to meet with fellow believers and spiritual leaders. But this challenge has also presented opportunity for spiritual growth.
Though some believers may feel like an island of faith among their families or communities, pastors have remained connected to their church members via phone and have encouraged them to use this time to draw nearer to God.
Kaksi’s pastor encouraged her to trust God during the lockdown and led the church in chain prayer.
Weary men and women await food distribution.
“I have learned to depend on God more than ever before,” Kaksi said. “Although the lockdown period has been very hard for all of us, the Lord has been very good, and He has been teaching us during this lockdown time.”
Madhur, a widow with two teenage boys at home, has learned about faith and trusting in God from her pastor, who often sends text messages with prayer requests, Bible verses and photos of how to worship at home.
“He told us that … the Lord has designed this lockdown period so that we will spend more time in the presence of God, because we are at home all the time,” Madhur said. “So during this lockdown period I was also able to bring my sons together in prayer and fasting. … So our prayer fellowship pictures we used to send to [our pastor] and he used to send his pictures to us. That’s how … we started to experience God’s blessings even though we were not allowed to gather together for worship service.”
GFA Workers Funnel God’s Provision
Seeing the need to help provide much-needed provisions to families in Madhur’s village, GFA workers distributed 100 food packets on May 17. Madhur viewed the gift as God Himself providing for them in this difficult time; she expects the food to last her family 15 days.
“I feel very, very satisfied and happy when I see a smile in the face of those children, when they received a biscuit packet or a little food that we hand over to the family,” GFA worker Keturah said. “That is the greatest joy I have, to help the children. This lockdown has become an opportunity for me to exercise my love and my care for those who are in need, especially the children.”
“Amazingly, God has been providing our needs,” said Madhur. “Sometimes when I needed to buy … but I didn’t have money, somehow God sent people with groceries, that included the thing like cooking oil or rice that I needed. … God has been good and gracious to us and provided all our needs.”
Kaksi, who is blind, depends on a small government stipend and the generosity of others to make ends meet.
“When I received the packet, I was so glad and I thanked the Lord immediately for giving me this beautiful gift, because it … tells me how much Jesus loves me,” said Kaksi.
A local GFA Bridge of Hope centre has been actively involved in helping the community during the lockdown. Keturah, a Bridge of Hope staff member who had been particularly concerned about the children during this lockdown, joyfully helped with the food distribution.
“I feel very, very satisfied and happy when I see a smile on the face of those children, when they received a biscuit packet or a little food that we hand over to the family,” Keturah said. “That is the greatest joy I have, to help the children. This lockdown has become an opportunity for me to exercise my love and my care for those who are in need, especially the children.”
This sense of community has pervaded the local Body of Christ. Though physically isolated, believers are reaching out to others and encouraging one another in this tough season. Many are finding new strength as their faith grows deeper roots. Part of this growth has come from seeing God’s provision for their physical needs through others.
“I’d like to thank all those who have provided us this grocery,” Madhur said. “I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I don’t have words good enough to express my gratitude and thankfulness to them.”
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GFA workers prepare for food distribution in a remote village.
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Weary men and women await food distribution.
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GFA workers distribute food packets to nearly 100 families.
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People wait for food while maintaining social distance.
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Men, women and children receive fresh meals.
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Children enjoy a nutritious meal.
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“I’d like to, you know, thank all those who have provided us this grocery,” said Madhur (not pictured). “I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I don’t have words good enough to express my gratitude and thankfulness to them.”
Against the backdrop of ongoing civil unrest in southeastern Myanmar, the introduction of the coronavirus brought additional burdens to an already struggling population. The internal problems of the country have hindered efforts to contain COVID-19 and complicated relief efforts.
Though Myanmar has not seen a major outbreak, the government is already struggling, and its health sector’s under-resourced and overstretched existence leaves people vulnerable if an outbreak should occur. There are also travel restrictions that could prove to be challenging in acquiring medical help.
Nevertheless, Bishop Nochhum Mor Abraham, leader of GFA’s ministry in Myanmar, has facilitated food distribution to 78 GFA workers as well as 102 other ministers.
“We are so grateful to God that our church has a privilege to do relief work among our pastors and missionaries,” he said.
Bishop Nochhum is also seeking to help 700 families within GFA congregations in the area and encouraging believers to reach out to help one another.
An exodus has followed the relaxing of travel restrictions in South Asia as previously stranded migrant workers have set their sights on home. Some have boarded trains or buses, some have hitched a ride or walked, but all were eager. The eagerness has waned, however, as their stomachs began to grumble on the long journey.
Migrant workers have been unable to work for several weeks, and many have not had money to purchase food. But these weary travelers have not gone unnoticed; GFA workers and churches have responded with compassion.
Ministering to Hungry, Weary Travelers
Believers distribute food to traveling migrant workers.
As the large number of migrant workers in the state of Uttar Pradesh return home, they have struggled to obtain food and water. Some of them are traveling with small children.
A GFA church has busily ministered to those needs, distributing more than 2,000 food packets thus far to migrant workers coming from 10 different areas. Grateful men and women have expressed heartfelt thanks.
“We were hungry for many days, but we are thankful to you for feeding us,” they said.
Rachiv, in charge of the transit center, said, “I am so grateful to [the church] for helping the needy people in this time of crisis. The church is really a great blessing to the society.”
In Andhra Pradesh, GFA pastor Maahir and his congregation have ministered to 250 migrant workers as they passed through their village by preparing fresh meals and distributing food packets, face masks and fruit.
Pastor Vadin, with the permission of local authorities, has distributed food at the railway station, bus stand and local market to migrant workers, most of whom had walked many miles. A total of 400 food packets containing veg biriyani (rice dish), egg curry, buttermilk, two water packets and salad have been distributed to the migrant workers as well as street dwellers and others in need.
Forty-three-year-old Jagriti set out to walk 400 kilometers, approximately 250 miles, after being informed there was no work available and facing difficulties finding food and transportation. The church provided shelter for her to rest as well as food to fill her stomach.
“We are so happy. I am thankful to [the church] for providing the food,” Jagriti said. “We did not eat food for two days. I am happy you provided food.”
June 15, 2020
GFA Pastor Distributes Masks to the Needy
GFA pastor Ranbir watched as men and women dashed about, attempting to complete their errands for the day. For only two hours a day, residents in one area Madhya Pradesh, India, could leave their homes during the coronavirus lockdown. Daily labourers and farmers depended on these scant hours to earn what little money they could. The majority of these workers, Pastor Ranbir noticed, had no face masks to protect themselves, increasing their risks of becoming infected or spreading the virus.
A member of Pastor Ranbir’s congregation offers a mask toa woman, along with instructions on how to use it properly.
Wanting to help them, he and his congregation made 220 facemasks to distribute. With a team of believers, Pastor Ranbir visited people in a nearby village, offering masks and health safety tips, such as refraining from physical contact and washing hands frequently.
“We had tried to purchase some masks from the market, but it was not available anywhere,” said one recipient. “We want to thank you for preparing the masks and giving to us freely. It is so thoughtful of you.”
Families Blessed with Dry Goods
When GFA pastor Aakaar, and a member of his congregation, visited a local village in Maharashtra, India, the two saw the plight faced by many families. The lockdown prevented them from working, and in turn earning money for food.
That very day, Pastor Aakaar and the purchased some dry goods, packed them and handed them out to a total of 25 families.
Pastor Aakaar hands a much-needed packet of food to a local woman.
“I and my mother did not have food to eat because my mother could not go for work because of the lockdown,” says Didar, a teenager. “We do not have to worry now because the church is with us in this crisis.”
June 3, 2020
South Asia Lockdown Leads to Unlocked Ministry Potential
Dr. Daniel Johnson, leader of GFA’s medical ministry on the field, shared an inside look at how coronavirus is affecting national missionaries, Bridge of Hope children and several ongoing ministries across the 16 Asian nations where GFA serves.
“The lockdown has not suppressed the ministry, but it has actually expanded the ministry in different ways,” he shared.
GFA pastors, who haven’t been able to lead worship services, are staying connected to their congregations by regularly calling and checking in on families. They’ve encouraged believers to have “church at home” with their families and take part in daily times of prayer.
To keep our pastors encouraged, our ministry is using text messaging to send morning devotionals written by K.P. Yohannan, which are translated into many languages, including Kokborok (see picture).
Overcoming the Barrier of Illiteracy
Dr. Daniel also shared how many of our Women’s Fellowships have been encouraged by reading or hearing an audio version of a special letter written by Gisela Yohannan, K.P.’s wife, to the many sisters serving across the field. The letter, specifically meant to encourage women during this season of uncertainty, was translated and recorded into more than 20 languages and sent via social media or text message.
A believer and her child listening to Gisela's letter.
In one region, two women who were neighbors to a pastor and his family overheard the pastor’s wife playing Gisela’s letter aloud. Intrigued and encouraged by what they heard, the women went over to ask for prayer.
Dr. Daniel said having Gisela’s letter in an audio format is overcoming the barrier of illiteracy, which is still prevalent among Asia’s women, and is planting seeds of Christ’s love in the hearts of those who may not have had a chance to know of it before.
“No One Should Be Left Behind”
Although GFA’s Bridge of Hope centres cannot operate as they normally would, some centres have turned into “community kitchens,” providing hot meals for families in their regions.
For many children who attend our Bridge of Hope centers, their main meal—or perhaps their only meal—of the day is while they’re at the center. Knowing this, staff are making sure their students have food to eat in the midst of this crisis. They’re also continuing to visit children and their families at a socially acceptable distance to encourage them.
Serving meals to the families of GFA Bridge of Hope students.
“No one should be left behind,” said one field partner. “With this goal in mind, relief teams in South Asia are working tirelessly day after day to reach every needy person with food and essentials. By setting up community kitchens and even doing door-to-door delivery of food, hundreds and hundreds of poor and needy people are being provided with warm meals each day.”
Dr. Daniel shared during a GFA staff prayer meeting he hopes we will come out stronger through this time, and that the lockdown will result in unlocked potential for future ministry opportunities.
Although Sunday School can't happen right now, pastors are giving children activities to do at home.
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May 29, 2020
On the Front Lines
“We had been starving in this lockdown situation, but for the past four days, [the church] is getting food for us every day. We are really thankful to them,” said one needy recipient in Uttar Pradesh.
With tears in her eyes, a 7-year-old girl said, “I lost my mother three years ago, and my father has health issues and he is unable to walk. We depend on begging for our survival. But due to lockdown, we are starving and sleeping [with] empty stomachs. I thank you for providing food to us every day.”
Police officers are working day and night to maintain order and safety in the midst of the pandemic. In Uttar Pradesh, our church provided daily cooked meals for a full week, both for police officers and the most needy in the area, who are struggling to survive.
The food distribution has also helped the lockdown, which was instituted to minimize the virus’ spread. Police appreciated the assistance.
“So many people complain and come out for food in the street, but from the time the [church] began distributing food, no one is coming out on the street,” said Kalpa, a police officer. “We thank you for joining us in making the lockdown in India successful.”
Helping People Stay Safe
In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, individuals on the front lines are working hard for people’s health, safety and sanitation. Every day they put their own health at risk to protect others and help those in desperate need. GFA workers are standing hand in hand with these brave souls.
Medical staff in Myanmar receive health kits, which included masks, surgical gloves, sanitizer and blankets.
The number of COVID-19 cases is rising, and medical staff are needed to treat patients. The situation in a particularly affected area of Myanmar sparked compassion in the heart of Bishop Nochhum mor Abraham, one of GFA’s pastors who leads the work in that region. He sought to show the love of Christ by helping doctors as well as those in dire need.
Local pastors and church members assembled health kits, which included masks, surgical gloves, sanitizer and blankets, and sent them to the local hospital. Believers hope the doctors will continue to stay healthy as they perform their critical work.
Ministering to Sanitation Workers
Sanitation workers such as road cleaners, garbage collecters and road sweepers play an important role in fighting the spread of disease as they serve to keep cities clean.
“If these garbage collectors don’t work, we will be left with all dirt, infectious substance and hazardous materials on road and get sick,” said Kalani, a social services officer.
GFA workers distribute food to those helping keep the city clean in Uttar Pradesh.
Though still working, these workers’ salaries have been delayed, leaving them unable to purchase food in these trying times. In response to the needs of these workers, and a special request from the municipal council, one of GFA’s pastors who leads the work in Sri Lanka, Bishop Geevarghese mor Makariose, and GFA pastor Eshan organized a dry rations distribution in Sri Lanka. Grateful recipients received packets of rice, dal, sugar, salt, a can of salmon, tea leaves and biscuits.
“Nobody else is thinking of the importance of these people, as this is considered a low-profile work,” said council chairman Udara. “But the … church workers were first to respond and grant our humble request to help these 40 families.”
“I thank God for giving us an opportunity to represent God’s love and perform acts of compassion for desperate people during COVID-19 epidemic,” the Bishop said. “We were able to distribute dry rations to so many needy families.”
May 27, 2020
Bridge of Hope Trusted to Help Those in Need
GFA Bridge of Hope staff in Maharashtra had been praying and seeking the Lord for ways to bless their community. The coronavirus lockdown particularly affected the poor; they and their children struggled to get even one proper meal a day.
Then the GFA Bridge of Hope staff received a call from a local woman saying she had purchased 225 packets of food and wished for the staff to distribute it, knowing the Bridge of Hope center could be trusted to serve the underprivileged in the community. Taking the supplies, Bridge of Hope staff bagged and handed out food packets to the needy families.
Pastor Marty and another GFA worker stand ready to distribute 225 packets of food.
Most of the recipients are migrant laborers who have been out of work since the lockdown.
“Thank you for your help,” they said. “Your God is a good God. We know that you are Christians, and that is why you are doing this kind of good work for us.”
May 22, 2020
Workers Reveal God’s Love, Care to Those in Need
Myanmar is experiencing similar challenges as much of South Asia. The country had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 23. Though some essential shops remain open, the government has implemented increasingly stringent policies, including a “stay at home” program and local curfews, to mitigate the rise of confirmed cases.
The COVID-related mitigation efforts in Myanmar and many other places in Asia have greatly impaired the local economy. More than 25,000 garment workers in Myanmar have been laid off.1 Multitudes are unable to earn an income, while grocery prices have risen, adding to their bleak situation. In the midst of this crisis, GFA-workers continue to show the love of Christ in various tangible forms.
Love in the Form of a Face Mask
While the necessity of food is critical, villagers also need basic items to preserve their health as the virus spreads. Officials have recommended wearing face masks to prevent spreading the disease. But many cannot afford a face mask when what little they have is spent on food for their day-to-day survival.
A GFA worker serving in Myanmar gives out face masks, which have become too expensive for many villagers to afford.
One of the district leaders serving in Myanmar,Bishop Nochhum mor Abraham, responded to this need and arranged to distribute face masks to villagers in several districts who could not afford them. Recipients were grateful for this loving act. It was just one way believers have been able to show the love of Christ in the midst of this difficult season.
Several other GFA pastors, such as Pastor Kaleb serving in Andhra Pradesh, India, have also given guidance on best practices to maintain health, such as encouraging villagers to wear face masks, frequently wash their hands and practice social distancing. This has often accompanied food distribution.
Love by Way of Rickshaw
Similarly, Pastor Obadiah and members of his church loaded up an auto rickshaw to distribute essential items such as toothpaste, soap, oil, rice and sugar to 200 families in a village in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Villagers receive much-needed food supplies.
Other families, made up of daily wage laborers living in huts in a slum, received bags of rice. The lockdown exasperated their scant supplies, and many had not been able to eat a good meal for many days.
Love Serves the Public Servant
A member of a church led by a GFA pastor delivers a hot meal to the local police.
While the rest of the population is on lockdown, the duty of policemen and government cleaning workers continues, and these individuals often work long hours. In recognition of their tireless service, GFA pastor Tajim and his congregation prepared cooked meals to give to these public servants. They distributed 100 curd rice packages, 150 vegetable packets and water bottles. Another pastor gave masks, soap and sanitizer to the local police station.
The forms are varied, but the singular message remains: Jesus loves and cares about their needs. This love is shown through the caring acts of His dedicated servants.
“I just got these pictures in and my heart is broken for these people,” shares K.P. Yohannan, founder of GFA. “Pastors on the mission field are calling me because they need help trying to take care of people. This is a huge opportunity for the church to show Christ’s love in word and deed.”
The photos we just received from our field partners in Northwest India show crowds of people literally begging for food. The people are migrant laborers who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus lockdown in India. They no longer have anywhere to live and are living on the streets or under bridges. Some of them are on the way back to their homes, but they have nothing to eat.
The line stretches almost as far as the eye can see. The people aren’t spaced out in a socially distant queue, because they are desperate, and they are starving to death. Men, women, young, old—they haven’t eaten in many days. Massive crowds have gathered and are trying to find food to provide for their families.
The government is trying to do what they can, but the need is so great.
GFA-supported churches in the region are doing everything they can to help. Bishop Martin mor Aprem, one of our field leaders, is organizing food distribution programs to help as many people as possible.
“The bishop tries to keep social distancing, but people are grabbing food from his hand, and he could not control the crowd,” reported another field leader.
Our continued prayer is that God provides for the needs of these precious people. This is an incredible opportunity for the Body of Christ to reach out and show His love.
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May 11, 2020
After 9 Years in Prison, Pastor Manja Still Serving the Hurting
GFA-supported pastors in one city in Nepal responded to the needs of jobless families who were surviving on daily wage jobs in the construction, furniture and carpet industries. During the lockdown, GFA-supported pastor Manja mobilized believers to provide food to the hungry. Pastor Manja previously served nine years in prison after being falsely accused of murder, but his passion to show Christ’s love to the hurting has continued to grow and impact lives. During an event he coordinated, 21 families received rice, mustard oil, lentils and salt.
“I would like to thank [the church] for the kind help,” said one recipient. “I work as a daily wage earner in the construction sector to buy essential items. But this COVID-19 lockdown has prevented me from earning a daily wage. Due to that, I was so depressed and worried how to handle my family.”
On the same day, Pastor Manja and his congregation responded to a request for help from the leader of a local orphanage, where 28 children live. The church gave 20 pounds of sugar, 2 pounds of tea leaves and 4 boxes of cookies to the orphanage—a useful gift in a culture where tea is an important part of daily life and community.
‘Even My Son Did Not Think About Me’
In India, GFA-supported pastors have held various food distribution events to help poor and marginalized people. One GFA-supported pastor in Jharkhand distributed rice and potatoes to 27 needy people, including 7 leprosy patients. These leprosy-affected people depend on begging for their survival. After the pandemic spread to Asia and they could not leave home, they struggled to get a daily meal.
Another pastor in Jharkhand distributed soaps and detergent to 10 widows and taught them about the importance of washing their hands with soap and water.
Five churches in Nagaland distributed groceries in their respective communities, helping a total of 140 families. These families, who live off daily wages and cannot work during the lockdown, smiled gratefully as they took home sacks of vegetables, lentils, salt, oil, potatoes and rice.
“I was worried about what I would do for my family in this difficult time,” said one recipient. “The church members called me to take the food items. My family and I were amazed.”
Another recipient, a 51-year-old man, said “Even my son did not think about me and help me at this time, but you have given me the items. I am happy, and thank you so much for your help.”
Bridge of Hope Staff Cook Food for the Hungry
Compassion burdened the heart of Nabhitha, the social worker of a Bridge of Hope centre, when she visited a village where several Bridge of Hope students live and saw that people were going to sleep with empty stomachs because they could not work in the lockdown.
Nabhitha contacted a GFA-supported pastor in her area to find out how they could help this village. Together, they and the Bridge of Hope staff gathered funds to help these families, and they contacted the district magistrate for permission to prepare and distribute food. The Bridge of Hope staff prepared 80 food packets full of chickpea curry and flatbread, which they gave out to families in the village.
“We are not able to provide anything to our family,” shared the father of a Bridge of Hope student. “Really, you care for us. Thank you for considering us as your family members.”
Please pray for:
An end the spread of COVID-19, especially in the densely populated areas of Asia
The Lord to enable pastors and believers to effectively help the struggling people in their churches and communities
Transformation in the hearts and lives of each person helped by the Church
Guidance for government leaders as they seek to protect the people of their nations
May 5, 2020
Helping the Hungry Just in Time
South Asia’s mandated lockdown that began March 25 in response to COVID-19 has especially affected the poor and needy. Many are day laborers dependent on a meager, hard-earned daily wage to put food on the table, but current regulations prevent them from working. Even if they had an income, many can’t leave their home villages to seek food due to the strict regulations.
As a result, these villagers cannot provide food for their families and are threatened with starvation. For many people, the situation has engendered fear and depression.
But there is a ray of hope as GFA-supported workers bring relief to the severely hungry in local villages. One of the most prominent methods has been through food distribution.
‘We Would Have Definitely Died in Hunger’
The situation in one area of South Asia had grown particularly dire, and villagers felt helpless.
“We thought it is better to die and not live in this world as nobody had come and helped us,” said one villager. “We are in a terrible situation. If you would have not come and given the food items, we would have definitely died in hunger.”
God guided GFA-supported pastor Hafeedh and his team to this village to distribute groceries, and it seems they came just in time.
“In this difficult situation in which people are afraid to come out and talk, [Pastor Hafeedh] came here … and helped us,” said a villager.
Their distribution wasn’t the only timely one. After local pastors distributed food in a slum of Haryana, India, villagers thanked the workers for helping “at the right time.”
“Since we were not able to go out for the last few weeks,” said Kafeel, a local, “we could not work or earn any money and were running short of food for our family. We want to thank you for your help in this critical time.”
Privileged to Show the Love of Christ
In one area of Sri Lanka, GFA-supported pastor Paden partnered with another local religious leader as well as government officials to provide dry food packs to families.
“I praise God [for enabling us] to serve our villagers, community people and other villagers in this needy hour and amidst all restrictions,” Paden said.
Dasbala, a government official, felt blessed to work alongside such a dedicated leader who really cares for the people of the community.
He said of the work, “I am so proud to say that this is called real Christianity, showing Jesus’ love to people.”
Intrigued upon seeing the tangible display of Christ’s love, Dasbala asked Pastor Paden about Jesus. The pastor happily answered his questions and provided him with a Bible.
“I also want to study about Christian life and requested a Bible,” said Dasbala, “which I want to read and understand through [Pastor Paden’s help].”
In the midst of crisis, believers have been able to show God’s love and care in very practical ways, both to local leaders and everyday people.
“We have heard that you and your church help poor and needy individuals and families, but today I have seen with my own eyes,” said a villager. “I am so amazed by your dedication to help the poor even in this difficult situation.”
April 29, 2020
Serving the Hungry During Holy Week
From April 5 until April 12, millions of people around the world would have been worshipping in their churches in commemoration of Holy Week. But this year, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented believers from gathering for services.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have suspended many Easter traditions this year, GFA-supported workers in Asia remembered Christ by illustrating His love to their communities. Throughout the week, believers in various regions fed people who cannot work during the lockdown, while complying with government regulations.
Bags of Groceries, Warm Meals and Answered Prayers
On Monday, April 6, churches in Sikkim, India, worked with the local government and police to provide staple grocery items and face masks to 300 families that were struggling to afford one daily meal.
“We were in deep distress for the last few days. Now we can survive for another week with this rice and some vegetables,” shared one grateful recipient.
On April 7 and April 8, a GFA-supported pastor in Karnataka and his congregation prepared a hot meal and served it to people who live on the streets or beg for a living.
“I was feeling so tired because I did not eat food,” one woman told the team. “I was asking God to give me food. [To] my surprise, I got the food from the church after one hour of my prayer.”
On Saturday, April 11, regional church leaders and staff members in Delhi worked with local police to provide groceries to 54 families living in a slum. Many of these families were migrant labourers from other states, but the pandemic prevented them from working and providing basic necessities for their families.
“Due to lockdown, our contractor disappeared without even paying our money,” said one recipient. “We are now homeless and in a helpless situation. We are struggling for food and cannot even go back to our hometown. The help we received today from the church is a great relief. We do not have words to express our gratitude. You are not related to us, yet you have helped us in the time of our need. God bless you all.”
A Gift of Hope on Easter
On Resurrection Sunday, Bridge of Hope staff members in Uttarakhand rejoiced by sharing the love of the risen Lord with a hungry community.
Chahel, a social worker from the centre, had visited the store one day to buy items for his family. Along the way he spoke with people from the community surrounding the Bridge of Hope centre and asked them how the lockdown was affecting their lives. He learned that people had no food and were surviving off only water. Filled with concern, Chahel decided to help.
On Easter Sunday, he met with a local government official to ask if he could distribute food in the area. Excited that someone wanted to help the people, the official granted permission and advised Chahel to take necessary health precautions. Chahel contacted the other Bridge of Hope staff members and asked if they would join him. Together, they cooked potato curry and puri (flatbread) and assembled 90 meal packets.
The staff members then went door to door, greeting hungry people with warm meals.
“We are in need of food to survive,” one woman told the staff. “We praise God that still there is hope for us when we see this kind of compassionate people think about the poor.”
As people opened their doors to receive the packets of food, a message of hope from the resurrected Christ shined forth.
Please continue to pray Christ’s love will bring healing and hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pray for healing for those sick with COVID-19.
Pray for the eradication of COVID-19.
Pray ministry efforts will continue to have support and favour from government leaders.
Pray for provision, wisdom and protection for believers to continue providing aid effectively
Pray God’s grace will transform the hearts and lives of those who receive help.
April 27, 2020
Helping 1,710 Most Vulnerable People
On April 11, a church in Maharashtra, India, organized a free meal for around 1,500 impoverished men and women. GFA-supported pastor Hardik and his congregation, after obtaining permission from local officials, divided into teams to visit the local slums.
“We feel that it’s our responsibility to help the most vulnerable in time of need,” said members of Pastor Hardik’s church.
In another area of Maharashtra, GFA-supported pastor Shaunak and his congregation also distributed food packets to more than 210 people, including families of daily wage labourers, the homeless and others impacted by the nationwide lockdown.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi apologized to the impoverished of India for making their burden of poverty greater, but stated in his weekly address on March 29th, “there was no other way to wage war against coronavirus.”
Alleviating 65 Families’ Burdens
Sixty-five families from three different villages were provided with essential items such as rice, soy, beans, lentils, potatoes, fish, salt, onions, soap and oil on April 8 in Tripura, India.
Together with local police, GFA-supported pastor Bahram and his staff organized a food distribution to help those struggling to survive during the lockdown. Families—many of which included widows—already burdened by poverty faced an even greater problem when the lockdown went into effect.
“During the lockdown period, I cannot go out for work, and I can hardly manage my family,” says Raga, a 42-year-old widow. “The [workers] are helping us, and I am extremely happy because we [can now] manage somehow.”
Another widow, Mahzarin, also said, “Every day I am struggling to manage the family needs because I cannot go out for work during the lockdown. In our time of need, the [workers] are helping us and providing us with some essential items. I am deeply thankful from the bottom of my heart to [them] for their love and care for us.”
Essential Items Handed Out to 50 Widows
On April 11, GFA-supported pastors in West Bengal gave essential food items to 50 widows and other individuals.
After receiving permission from local authorities, the pastors came together to organize a program aimed at providing for those struggling amidst the lockdown. Each family received 11 lbs. of rice, 2 lbs. of lentils, 6 lbs. of potatoes and a bar of soap.
One of the recipients, Jahanvi, said “My son works as a daily labourer, and I catch fish and crabs from the river for sustaining my family. But I cannot go out this time due to the lockdown. The timely help of the food items received from the church is a great help for my family.”
A member of the village council said, “During this untimely crisis, [the church] in my village stood beside us to help the poor families by providing them with food items. I feel very proud of them. I want to thank [them] for their great help.”
April 17, 2020
More than 2,300 People Helped in Five Days
Between April 2 and April 6, GFA-supported workers across India and Sri Lanka provided groceries, meals and essential supplies to around 2,334 people and families.
The recipients included leprosy patients, men and women living in slums, widows, rickshaw drivers, factory workers, migrant labourers, construction workers and many other labourers who are dependent upon daily work for their and their family’s survival.
In Sri Lanka, GFA-supported workers received special permission from local authorities to distribute dry-ration packets to 200 families during a nationwide curfew. They worked alongside local government representatives and religious leaders of other faiths to identify families with three to five children that were in most need.
“I am privileged to have the support of … Christian leaders to come to our temple for the first time to help our village’s poorest families,” said the chief priest of the local Buddhist temple. “This is a true representation of Jesus Christ. The love has been shown practically to our villagers, and they received a good dry ration package with all essential things.”
Meanwhile, in India, GFA-supported workers, including office staff, Bridge of Hope staff, pastors and women missionaries, delivered meal packets, grocery items, soaps and toothpaste to men and women who have been unable to buy food for their families because they no longer have a means to earn an income.
In Maharashtra, a pastor’s friend donated enough money to buy rations for 35 families that will last 15 days.
One recipient, who has been diagnosed with HIV and lost his job because of it, lives in a small hut with his mother. His father passed away a few years ago, and he has been unable to adequately take care of his mother.
“I thank you for helping me when there was no hope,” he said after receiving grocery items.
Another recipient, Raghbir, works as a taxi driver. After receiving much-needed grocery items, he said with tears in his eyes, “I do not have any work for the last few days and did not have any money left to buy food for my family. My wife is sick and bedridden and at such a time, your help has become a great blessing to us. God bless you abundantly.”
Workers in Maharashtra hope to help 300 children living a slum colony in the coming days.
In one area of Andhra Pradesh, 10 GFA-supported pastors combined their own resources to purchase grocery items for 40 families. In another area of Andhra Pradesh, 690 families received vegetables while another 200 people received cooked meals.
In Chhattisgarh, 64 families received grocery items in their time of need. Forty of those were migrant labourers who are unable to return home and are currently staying in the local community hall or middle school.
In Assam, 30 poor families received grocery items, and in West Bengal, 40 leprosy patients who depend on begging for their survival received rice, lentils, potatoes, onions and salt.
Please keep praying for GFA-supported workers as they do all they can to help those in need. During this crisis, ministry is continuing.
Please pray for:
Pray the Lord provides the necessary resources to help thousands more people in the coming days.
Pray for God’s protection over national workers and those they serve.
Pray many people in Asia will discover and embrace God’s love and redemption as they see His servants ministering with care.
April 16, 2020
A ‘Great Act of Love’ in Sri Lanka
From March 27 to April 2, GFA-supported workers serving in Sri Lanka provided grocery items, which included rice, sugar, dal (lentils), tea leaves and vegetables, to 165 families in four different regions. Local pastors, businessmen, police officers and a government authority provided the funds to purchase these items in bulk for distribution.
In one area, GFA-supported workers served alongside Buddhist monks and other religious leaders to provide tea and biscuits to 350 local police and armed forces in their region.
“I am surprised that a Christian missionary took initiative and convinced us to help our own Buddhist friends and villagers,” said a Buddhist businessman who contributed to a food distribution in his village. “This is a great act of love, [done] not considering [their] own safety from Corona, but thinking of innocent poor people who do not receive any help.”
Soap Distribution in a Leprosy Colony
On April 4, a group of Sisters of Compassion and Women’s Fellowship sisters visited a leprosy colony to provide packets of soap to its residents. They were able to give away 100 bars of soap, and they encouraged people to stay home and practice handwashing to safeguard against the virus.
“I want to give thanks to the [church] and its leadership for helping me and my family,” said a leprosy patient. “This gift is very helpful for us to be safe and protect ourselves from coronavirus.”
Pastor and Wife Overcome Fear to Help Others
GFA-supported pastor Manoj and his wife, Sarita, were able to provide food to five families in their communities on the morning of April 3.
“Although the pastor and his family were afraid to come out of their house [because of the virus], thinking something worse would happen to them, still they … reached the needy families in the early hours of the day,” reported a GFA-field correspondent. “Those families are in dire need of food items and were frustrated as they had no meal for some days. Some of the family members had no hope of their survival as they are daily wage labourers.”
Pastor Manoj and Sarita distributed face masks, rice, dal, soybeans, onions and potatoes.
Aaloka, 40, was one of those who received much-needed help. She is married and has five children. Her husband is a day labourer working in another district. Because of the lockdown, he hasn’t been able to return home. Aaloka worried over her children, wondering how she would feed them.
“God came to our family and provided for us,” she says. “I am extremely happy and thanking God for the lives of all those who showed concern to us.”
Stranded Migrant Workers Given Provisions During Lockdown
On April 3, day labourers in Chhattisgarh, India, and migrant workers unable to return to their home state of West Bengal, India, were given a meal and grocery items. Because of the nationwide lockdown, they’ve been unable to find food or travel back to their homes.
Monkey Street Performers Receive ‘Priceless’ Help
Eighty families across the Indian city of Hyderabad received food supplies and soap. Thirty-five of those families earn their living by performing monkey shows on the side of the road or sending their children for begging.
“Our work is not good or appreciated,” said one 35-year-old recipient, whose main income is earned by performing monkey shows. “During the lockdown period, we are not able to feed our children. We are totally helpless and are so scared for our survival. As we are in a panic of how to get food, Pastor Kunal has shown compassion upon us and provided rice to 35 families. Really, this help is priceless.”
Church Members Give to Help Others
GFA-supported pastor Bhavin, who serves in Uttarakhand, India, called together the members of his church and encouraged them to contribute food products to help the poor in their community. They were able to purchase enough rice, sugar, dal and mustard oil to give to a few families living in a village three miles away.
One of the recipients said, “We were praying for someone to come and help us. Really, God has sent you. We are so grateful to the pastor and his church.”
Pastor Bhavin has encouraged his congregation to continue to give so they can help more people, share Christ’s love and let people know the church cares for them.
Bridge of Hope Staff Cook Meal for Migrant Workers
In Uttarakhand, India, Bridge of Hope staff are reaching out to their neighbors in need by providing cooked meals. In one area, the staff cooked meals for 65 migrant labourers from Bihar who are unable to return to their homes because of the lockdown.
“The labourers were very happy and grateful … for their kindness,” reported a GFA-supported field correspondent. “Some of their eyes were filled with tears.”
In another area, Bridge of Hope staff cooked a meal of potato curry and puri (flatbread) for families in need. They were able to distribute 56 packets of the cooked meal.
“I am very much impressed by the teachings of Jesus that [show how to] love one another,” said a recipient. “Now I can see that in your efforts to help the people who do not know you.”
April 14, 2020
Field Partners Continue Serving Thousands Amidst Pandemic
Millions of people in South Asia are wondering how they will provide food for their families as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates.
The lockdown has left millions of people jobless, including rickshaw and taxi drivers, daily wage labourers, food service workers, rag pickers and retail workers. Many of these workers already struggled to put food on the table, and now they, along with millions of homeless people and people who beg for a living, face a dire situation. Many do not know how to request government assistance.
Awareness Programs Educating Thousands
In the days leading up to the lockdown, GFA-supported pastors and their congregations in Delhi, India, worked to educate people about the virus. On March 20, a GFA-supported pastor and members of his congregation held a COVID-19 awareness program and distributed 1,500 pamphlets teaching people how to prevent the spread of the virus.
On March 18, a group of Sisters of Compassion and church leaders conducted a coronavirus awareness program in Madhya Pradesh, India.
“Coronavirus is a germ that causes severe illness, and its symptoms are coughing, fever and difficulties in breathing,” a GFA-supported worker told the audience. “It is spreading rapidly across the globe, and there is no vaccine ready for its cure yet. However, we can prevent the virus by following a few steps, like washing hands properly and regularly, practicing social distancing, maintaining proper hygiene and seeking a doctor’s advice if sick.”
The audience listened attentively, and at the program’s conclusion, the Sisters of Compassion gave the attendees educational handouts titled “Be Cautious, Be Healthy.”
“When we hear about [the] coronavirus, our heart sinks, but I am happy to know that it can be prevented by following simple steps,” shared a 50-year-old woman who attended. “Every one of us should take precautions, and we can together defeat this deadly disease.”
A group of Sisters of Compassion in Maharashtra, India, organized an awareness campaign to inform people about the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and how to take preventative measures, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing and maintaining proper hygiene.
The Sisters of Compassion and their GFA-supported pastor got permission from the local government to take a small number of believers to distribute grocery kits to people in need. On April 3, they gave groceries to 30 families and handed out 50 face masks. They plan to help more families as the lockdown continues.
Local Governments Reach Out to Church for Help
A local government official asked church leaders in Uttar Pradesh, India to help as many people as they can.
On April 3, GFA-supported workers sewed face masks and prepared a meal of vegetable curry and flatbread. Then they prayed and went out to villages to distribute the food and face masks, seeking especially to help homeless people and slum residents.
“Thank you so much for helping me,” shared one recipient. “I was hungry and was not able to buy food. But I am grateful to you for giving me tasty food.”
“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink.” —Jesus (Matthew 25:35)
On April 6, GFA-supported workers used a school bus to distribute bags of vegetables to people in need. They hung the bags on the school bus exterior and encouraged people to come pick up the food while maintaining an appropriate social distance. This blessed 150 families with enough staple produce items to last three to four days.
GFA-supported workers in Uttar Pradesh are moving forward with plans to provide groceries to at least 5,000 people during the lockdown.
Please pray for:
God to protect GFA-supported workers, giving them wisdom in how to help people while observing government guidelines.
The needs of believers and each person impacted by the lockdown would be provided for.
GFA-supported workers can minister effectively, in Christ’s name, to those in desperate situations.
April 8, 2020
COVID-19 Unable to Halt Ministry in Asia
COVID-19 isn’t able to stop the spread of Christ’s love from touching people’s lives. Even though the pandemic has shut down schools and businesses deemed “non-essential,” is keeping friends and loved ones at a socially acceptable distance, and has forced churches to close their doors, Gospel for Asia-supported workers are still being God’s hands and feet to the poorest and most disadvantaged people in their communities.
GFA-supported workers are working with local governing authorities and putting together food packets to give to men and women in desperate need of help. Many of these people are daily labourers who depended on working every day for their very survival. The nationwide shelter-in-place order has halted many opportunities for these labourers to earn the necessary income to provide essential needs, such as food, for their families—and has left them in precarious situations, wondering how they will make it through the crisis.
Providing Food Shows God’s Care
Food packets have been a dose of hope, providing recipients with enough staple items to last a few weeks to a month, in some places. But these food packets are also providing recipients with the valuable realization that God is taking care of them.
“We did not have anything to eat during this lockdown situation,” said Sahira, who received a month’s supply of groceries. “God sent you at the right time to us. … I am crying and thankful because God is so gracious to me and my family.”
Prita, a widow, said, “My son could not go for work due to the lockdown, and we did not have food to eat, but Pastor Lagan helped us to get food for one month. We have a God who cares for us in our time of need. I am thankful to [the church] and the Almighty God.”
Masks for Those in Need
Another way GFA-supported workers are spreading hope in a time of fear and anxiety is by providing people with personal protective equipment. A Women’s Fellowship group in Chhattisgarh, India, spent four days sewing masks because of the massive shortage in their area. The ladies gave away 2,000 masks to villagers, health care workers and the local police.
A government official saw their initiative to provide a necessary need and instructed shopkeepers to provide the local pastor with as much fabric as his congregation needs to continue sewing these masks.
Creative Ministry Initiatives Springing Up Throughout Asia
Across South Asia, GFA-supported workers are doing all they can to help those in need, and these reports are just a glimpse of many we receive each day of unique initiatives to minister to the needy.
In Uttar Pradesh, a pastor and the believers in his congregation organized an awareness rally in the village. Their goal was to teach people how to properly wash their hands and how to stay protected from catching and spreading COVID-19.
One GFA-supported pastor in Hyderabad distributed food packets to widows, who are especially struggling during this time. He also shared how people can protect themselves from COVID-19 by washing hands, practicing social distancing, staying at home and wearing masks.
Another pastor traveled to an interior village near Hyderabad with the help of two local police officers to provide food to 200 tribal people.
“[The church] has taken a good initiative to help poor people to get food during the lockdown of COVID-19,” said one of the police officers.
After sharing food with 15 impoverished families in Gujarat, India, a GFA-supported field correspondent reported, “The plight of these people is miserable, as they are struggling financially and also lack groceries to feed their children. They [also] do not have a proper place to stay, so they are living on the footpath [alongside the road], which makes them more susceptible to catching the virus.”
Field correspondents in regions all across India are sending numerous reports of how GFA-supported workers are organizing food distributions and awareness programs, and of how they are providing personal protective equipment like masks to people in need. Our field partners plan to help as many people as possible in the days ahead.
Please keep GFA’s field partners in your prayers as they continue to help people suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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