South and Southeast Asia have been hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Factories have stopped their operations, small businesses have permanently closed, and Christians from Muslim backgrounds have been pressured to renounce their new faith in exchange for food and basic supplies. “When you see people going back to their old faith just because they do not have food, it really breaks our heart,” says Open Doors partner Brother Sam*.

Four ways you can pray for the work of Open Doors in Southeast Asia in the time of Covid-19.

1. Pray for the Body of Christ.

Brother Sam says, “We want to share the realization that we belong to one Body of Christ. Whether we are in the West or East, whether we are able to provide for ourselves, whether we are not able to provide for ourselves, we belong to one Body of Christ. So we need to care for one another, especially those who are really in need in this critical situation.”

2. Pray for God to eradicate the virus.

“The second thing I would really encourage you to pray for is the complete healing of those affected by this pandemic, especially in the countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia where cases of covid-19 keep increasing day by day.”

3. Pray for believers to stand strong in this pandemic, despite poverty, temptation, and hunger.

“The third thing is we really want you to pray for is for the believers, especially those who are in the persecuted areas, to stand strong in spite of this pandemic. I know it’s not that easy when you don’t have food to eat. To really stand on your faith is not an easy thing, but please pray that God will really keep them strong in their faith and that help will reach them before they lose their faith.”

Muslim backgrounds believers in Asia have been tempted with promises of a better life by their persecutors for a long time, even before the coronavirus spread in the region and there was an urgent need for relief aid.

“This is one of the tactics. They have been using it all the while. They pay money, they pay benefits, they give government jobs if [believers] convert to Islam. This happens all over Southeast Asia and is a very common trend, so I’m not really surprised when it happens during these pandemic times.”

4. Pray for believers who have lost their livelihoods.

“The fourth thing we really want you to think through is support for these people. Because for most of them, the months of April and May were the months of harvest season. Most of the farmers in Southern Philippines, in Bangladesh, and Indonesia lost their crops. They could not harvest their crops. And most of their crops are destroyed. These people will definitely need support for another three months or six months, with food supplies.

“And the other thing is, most of them also lost their jobs, especially those who are doing their daily wage earning in the construction industries, in the garment industries. They lost their jobs and most of the businesses have been closed down.

“We are really finding ways to help them on a long term basis instead of just providing them with food – ways that would help them start a business and empower them.”

FEEDING THE HUNGRY

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)

“When people are hungry, they need food to feed themselves and feed their families. And when you teach them anything when they are hungry, it’s not going to go into their head. So it’s always good that we feed them and meet their physical needs first, before we meet their spiritual needs. I think that’s also very biblical and that’s what we’re doing at this time.

“We are not a humanitarian agency, but still, when it comes to persecuted Christians who are in desperate need, times like these with covid-19, we must support them with food and other immediate assistance.”

Thanks to your prayers and support, Brother Sam’s teams are able to provide physical and spiritual support to struggling believers in Southeast Asia under these extremely challenging circumstances.

*Name changed for security reasons.

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