Remember the Poor . . . even in a Pandemic

Just recently, I stumbled on a wonderful collection of resources by Lausanne Conference (evangelical group for world missions) for leading through COVID-19. I was struck and convicted by what I heard from these global leaders. This webinar was put on by Lausanne to discuss the global impact of COVID-19 on the poor and vulnerable–especially majority or 3rd world contexts.

Ivan in the above video taken from that webinar, said . . .

“For those for whom survival is an issue, ya know, they don’t mind the possibility of contracting the disease [COVID-19] if that means . . . when the option is to die of hunger. And that’s what it boils down to. I think, ya know, what several speakers have pointed out this . . . The irony is, an estimated 200 to 250 people die every day in India of poor man’s diseases: diarrhea, dysentery, water-borne diseases. And that happens as a matter-of-course. So, to some extent, yes, it [government mandated social-distancing measures] is something that is protecting the middle-class, people of power and wealth, at the expense of not just inconvenience but life-threatening, existential problems that the poor are facing. And I think it’s not just a question of India, metropolitans in India, but it’s across the globe, I would imagine, it’s the same issue.”

Ivan Satyavrata

For those who are interested in this webinar, it’s linked above and I’ve also attached my Brief of the 90 minute conversation with appropriate info and quotes.

As a disclaimer, I’m really not weighing in on the Open vs. Reopen debate in America (or elsewhere for that matter). Listening to this, I was blown away by my inability to understand what poor, vulnerable communities need right now–and I live in and near  vulnerable communities in one of the poorest economies on earth!

I’m not sure exactly what to do with this either. First, we pray. Christian prayer and reflection leads us to compassion and social action. How can we join into the grief of our local and international communities who are more at risk? Reach out to those near you and those in or near at-risk places internationally, just to listen.

I am meeting with friends here locally to listen and pray. So many have already asked us for money, jobs, food . . . hope. I know I can’t just tell them God has them and hope for the best. We will have to figure out together what we can do to provide physical relief now and moving forward. It’s long overdue.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Coming away from this webinar, I was reminded how we have to risk coming alongside the poor and hurting communities–just as God did for us. It is how, as MLK said, the church is able to fulfill its role as the conscience of the city. I don’t know what that means for you. If we were in America, I think in some ways it’s more obvious where the pressure points are . . . even if it’s not clear what to do about it. Honestly, I don’t know what it means for us here either. But let’s not use that as an excuse for doing nothing.



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