Mukhtaran is a Christian widow in Pakistan. She and her three daughters work as domestic helpers in other people’s homes. But Pakistan is under lockdown and they cannot go to work. So they have no income. Their wages were too low to set aside savings, and soon the meagre food stocks in their home will be finished. Her only son used to try to support the family by begging on the streets. But social distancing means that no beggars are allowed on the roads now. Mukhtaran herself is going blind.
The whole world is at risk, as never before.
Governments order lockdowns. Rich countries pour their resources into battling the invisible foe.
But what about countries whose health systems barely function at the best of times? Countries that cannot hope to provide salaries for those who suddenly cannot work? Or places where people live crowded together in refugee camps without adequate sanitation?
What about Christians where they are despised and discriminated against? Christian leaders in Sri Lanka have told Barnabas Fund that converts from Buddhism and Hinduism will be going hungry in a few days’ time. The government will distribute food through the majority places of worship. But converts will not be helped by either temples or mainstream churches, so they will not get the food.
Barnabas Fund has launched a Covid-19 Emergency Fund, for poor, marginalised and persecuted Christians, those who have no one else to help.
Here is what we want to do, with God’s help and your donations:
Poor and elderly Christians, like Sargis and Julieta in Armenia, are begging their churches for help. But the churches lack funding to buy even basic foodstuffs for them. Then there are countries like Laos, where poor rural Christians are severely persecuted, often by being banished from the fields where they grow their food. Barnabas Fund has received urgent appeals for help from both Armenia and Laos.
2. Hygiene products
Africa is bracing itself for an explosion of coronavirus, the start of it delayed only because there is less travel to and from their continent. How can they protect themselves? A Christian leader in Uganda has asked us for soap and hand sanitiser gel for South Sudanese refugee families in Uganda. Other requests have come from Pakistan.
3. Rural pastor support
In many countries, the income of a pastor is from the donations of his congregation, on Sundays or when making pastoral visits. But the government in places like Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uganda has ordered a lockdown. Now Christians cannot gather for worship, and pastors cannot visit homes. In any case church members have nothing to give. The pastors and their families are in desperate need.
Please give now:
£7 ($8.50; €7.75) could provide soap, ethanol wipes and face masks for a South Sudanese refugee family of seven in Uganda
£16 ($19.50; €18) could buy 20kg rice for a poor or widow-headed rural Christian family in Laos
£24 ($29; €27) could buy ten large hand sanitisers (500ml each) in Pakistan
£30 ($36; €33) could feed a poor and elderly Christian couple in Armenia for a month
£50 ($60; €55) could support a rural pastor in Sri Lanka for a month