COVID-19: A Disaster Facing the Persecuted
04/24/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some governments are taking advantage of this crisis to tighten their grip on already vulnerable Christian communities or to deny them food aid. This has left some of the Christians we work with on the brink of starvation.
We are stepping in to provide emergency food packages in three nations desperate for help: India, Pakistan, and “Country X,” (unnamed for security reasons). This is a crisis situation, so please consider this prayerfully and give today if you are able.
We are living in extraordinary times, aren’t we? If you think of the virus and the pandemic, the lockdown, everything we’re going through. This is just nothing we’ve been through before.
I think for most people when they think about a lockdown, what they feel with a lockdown, if you had to pick one word it’s isolation, right? I mean a lot of people are feeling this depending on your living situation. If you’re single and living alone, this is heavy, even if you’re introverted. I mean this is really starting to weigh on people.
But this word isolation, I got to tell you in relation to the virus and the pandemic, it makes me think of two things. There’s a real tie-in to the persecuted and there’s two aspects to it and I want to share these with you.
And the first is just think about this in general, what are we facing? So we’re locked down because there’s a threat out there and it’s a looming threat. It’s kind of all pervasive and it could either pass us by, it could affect us somewhat, or it could really affect us, or even kill us.
And we never know when it’s going to hit or where it’s going to come from, looming threat just out there, and it could completely destroy our lives. And this is so often, this is a feeling of the persecuted. You know, they face a looming threat. It’s either the government or the mob. They say one wrong thing, they do one wrong thing, they get locked up, they get beaten. Beaten lightly or beaten terribly or even killed.
And so that’s the effect of persecution. Yet life has to go on and they have to live with faith. They cannot live under fear all the time. That happens, there’s no doubt. But the challenge is to live with faith, to live with trust, and to live life normally in spite of that. But that is one of the key tie-ins with persecution and the virus.
Now here’s the other one, and the other one is think about this. What is an MBB experience? An MBB is a Muslim background believer. So when they come to Christ, Islam is much more than a religion. It’s pervasive, it controls every aspect of your life.
And so when you leave Islam and you’re a fundamentalist or you’re in a fundamentalist country or family, you’re going to lose everything. You’re going to lose job, family, work, everything. And in fact, in the fundamentalist countries, you will often be at least beaten, tortured and good chance of being killed. And guess who’s going to kill you? It’s actually your family.
So what is the MBB experience? Extreme isolation. They go on lockdown, they lose everything, they go on lockdown. And it is one of the reasons that so many Muslim converts fall back because the cost is so high, the cost is so high.
But anyways, we in a certain sense are experiencing this. We’re getting a taste of what the persecuted are going through. You know, I mentioned before the dynamic of what’s happened to our work at ICC. It’s actually only increasing in terms of the pace with each other that we’re communicating.
But here’s the other thing is that actually our work has increased overseas in certain places. And in certain places, here’s what’s going on. So in some countries, the government is using the increased authority they’ve received through the pandemic to turn the screws on Christians.
So listen to this. In Nepal, one pastor recently, he was speaking to another pastor on the steps of his church and they both live on the compound of the church. So it’s two people. The government comes in, the police come in and arrest him and it’s really, they don’t like the Christians and they’re targeting the Christians. They use that as an excuse.
Another pastor they arrested, and guess why? Because he was praying against the virus in the name of Jesus and they arrested him for that. So that’s just an example. That’s light persecution now, and that’s not a heavy effect from the virus. Cause in other places it’s really dangerous.
You know, in India, if you follow us, you know we have a bikes and Bibles program. We support tons of pastors, almost a thousand pastors out there and they’re church planters. And these guys go out and they’re typically on foot, they’re itinerant evangelists, and they visit village to village and build churches.
And so what we do is we equip these guys with a bike and give them a hundred Bibles and just the addition of a bike and Bibles means their productivity explodes. They can visit a lot more villages and have a lot bigger impact.
So we’ve worked with these guys for years, but what’s happening is they’ve got a lockdown. Now these pastors are out in rural areas. They are serving the poor in their rural areas. They’re not using zoom, they don’t have the internet, they don’t have computers even. And so that you can imagine then what’s happening, they can’t get to their flocks. And a pastor is supported by his flocks so these guys are in dire straits. So that’s the Indian situation.
Now let me give you one more. This is the worst one. So in Pakistan, first of all there is, you know, Christians live on the bottom rung of society. And here’s an example. So sewer workers, you can imagine the guys who work in the sewers or sweeping the streets get, when those jobs come open, if you’re a Muslim, you can’t even apply. It’s only open to the Christians.
And with the virus, think about this, the human waste of the people who are ill is going into the sewers. And the Christians are forced to work down there and they can’t get any protective equipment. They’re under an extreme threat in terms of the virus. But if they refuse, because they don’t have protective gear, they’re going to lose their jobs. Again, dangerous, but here’s the worst part.
Now again, Pakistan is on lockdown. The Christians tend to be, they’re on the lowest rung of society. And so what that means is that they’re often day laborers, they’re very poor. And so now Pakistan is on a lockdown. So these guys are extremely poor already and now they can’t work. And the situation is they’re facing starvation. I mean, we’re getting reports of people eating grass to stay alive, so very dire situation.
Here’s what we’re doing with all these guys. I’ve picked out two of the countries, India, Pakistan. There was another one but I’ll just stick with these two countries to talk about. But these are countries where we can get to the guys who are suffering. Our staff can get to them. In spite of the lockdown, we can get to them. We can get deliveries to them.
So what we’re doing is assembling food packages. Now food packages, we give them a family enough food for a month and it’s simple stuff. It’s rice, it’s beans, it’s cooking oil, sugar, salt, tea, all the basics. But it’ll keep that family alive for a month. And you could do that for about 50 bucks. It’s different from country to country, but India, Pakistan just call it about 50 bucks and you keep that family alive for a month.
So anyways, we are in touch with groups of families in Pakistan, the pastors in there, 660 pastors and these guys are really facing a dire situation and we need your help. We’re trying to raise $200,000. We’re trying to raise it quickly. We’re starting with our staff overseas already getting them here, getting ready to start sending out these food packages.
But the thing is we don’t have anything around. We are your hands and feet, and so I want to ask you if you would get involved, and for 50 bucks you could rescue a family for a month. I can assume this is going to go on for more than a month, but we’re looking to raise $200,000 immediately.
And I want to know if you would get involved. It’s going to make a world of difference. We’re going to keep the Christians alive and go to the link, we’re going to show you the link and take it to a landing page. It’ll give you a little more detail and explain more.
But God bless you guys. Thanks for being with us. And thanks for caring for your brother and sister. God bless you.