The coronavirus pandemic is a health crisis, but for many poor people around the world, it is also a crisis of food and basic needs. When the coronavirus forced countries to close their borders and brought societies and economies to a standstill, many day laborers and others living in poverty were in immediate trouble. By locking down, poor people wouldn’t be able to work or collect the daily wages they depend on survive.
Christians were, of course, also affected in this way. Poor Christians saw their ability to buy basic supplies and necessities disappear, almost overnight.
But many Christians were hit twice as hard.
Christians living in places where they are persecuted for their faith have often been discriminated against in government aid and relief. We’ve heard stories from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and elsewhere, all saying the same thing: Christians who have been told they don’t get food or medical aid because they follow Jesus.
When we heard this, Open Doors knew we needed to bring help to these urgent needs. So, despite the risks, Open Doors workers and partners were able to reach many of these persecuted communities at a point of critical need.
Now, we are excited to report that over 100,000 persecuted Christians in Asia alone have received urgent aid and relief through Open Doors local teams and partner networks.
“When the pandemic began to hit country after country, we started to receive phone calls and other pleas for help,” the Open Doors director for Asia field teams says. “We quickly realized that in many places, Christians were in a very vulnerable position. Many live hand-to-mouth. No income for the day often means no meal that day. Starvation became a real threat for these Christians. If they die, the church dies with them. So, soon the question became: Will there be a Church after coronavirus?”
The stories Open Doors field workers heard proved that this was a fair question. “We received dozens of reports of Christians who contemplated suicide and a number of new believers returned back to Islam,” one field worker says. “They needed the food but their communities would only help them if they re-converted [to Islam]. In addition, the stream of messages we get in which Christians tell us that they are starving and don’t receive help because of their faith is simply endless.”
Amazingly enough, despite all the restrictions, increased monitoring, threats from groups hostile to Christians and the health risks, God opened the way for Open Doors workers and partners to give aid. “The reason we are called ‘Open Doors’ is because for God, no door is shut,” the Open Doors director says, “and the global Body of Christ came through as well. The response in prayer and giving from supporters around the world is amazing. God has used them. Thanks to Open Doors’ supporters, there will still be a church after corona in many places where its existence was threatened.”
Approximately 18,500 Christian families received an emergency relief kit. The average family in the region consists of between five and seven people, but they often include extended family members and are between 10 and 20 persons. The contents and quantities differ from country to country, but each emergency relief kit provides food, sanitation materials and other daily necessities. Sometimes the kit is enough to sustain a family for two months, and sometimes it’s smaller and the family is visited every few weeks.
Initially, Open Doors hoped to reach approximately 50,000 persecuted Christians in Asia with relief aid. “The needs are so vast, however,” the Asia director says. “Thanks to the gracious support of donors around the world, we were able to scale up quickly and double the number of people [we’ve been able to help]. We cannot stop now. We have identified thousands more families whose lives are in danger because they don’t have any food or income. In the coming weeks we hope to reach an additional 25-50,000 Christians.”
Help believers desperate for coronavirus relief!
Christians around the world—in places like Colombia, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Syria and more—are desperate for help in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Will you help?