Indian Church Leaders Report “Misery and Pain” Amid Deadly Second Wave of Pandemic
By ICC’s India Correspondent
05/05/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Pastor Mangilal carefully manages the dry corn he harvested six months ago, hoping to prolong the dwindling rations responsible for sustaining his family of seven. Despite his best efforts, he knows the supply will run out soon. Pastor Mangilal, leader of a rural congregation in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, is among thousands of people fighting to survive the deadly second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across India.
“I was down with fever and cough for more than two weeks now,” Pastor Mangilal told International Christian Concern (ICC). “During these two weeks, I was admitted in a private hospital for five days, but I was unable to continue in that hospital because I couldn’t pay. I returned home with some medicines, but now my son has developed a fever and cough. This is unending trouble.”
Prior to the pandemic, Pastor Mangilal led an independent church congregation in the Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh. Some 100 Christians, mostly from tribal background, worshipped in a makeshift hut composed of mud walls. The situation changed abruptly, however, last year when COVID-19 restrictions banned both church and small group gatherings.
“It has been a year since we had to shut down the church due to the pandemic,” Pastor Mangilal said. “There was a complete halt of all spiritual activities. Forty of my church congregates have fallen sick with fever and cold. I suspect that most of them are infected by COVID-19.”
“Those that are sick choose to stay home and take local medication, as they simply cannot afford the treatment in a private hospital,” Pastor Mangilal continued. “Most my church members believe that going to church and having prayers would made them well. Unfortunately, I cannot visit them, and they cannot come to the church due to the second wave of the virus.”
Despite these tragic circumstances, Pastor Mangilal still holds onto hope and has faith that God will restore the church. “I teach my congregation to endure as these trails are for short while,” Pastor Mangilal said. “I want to pray and be hopeful for God’s providence.”
Not too far away, in Madhya Pradesh’s Chindwarh district, a similar story is told by Pastor Paramanda Lanjwar, who contracted the virus along with his wife and children.
“Early detection of the infection is the only reason we are alive today,” Pastor Paramanda told ICC. “We have at least two to three dead bodies going out of our neighborhood every day. We are thankful for God’s grace to us.”
Before the second wave of the pandemic, Pastor Paramanada planted churches in the Chindwarh district and offered leadership support to other church planters in the area. With savings now depleted due to the pandemic, Pastor Paramanada’s duties have shifted gears from church expansion to church survival.
“The second wave the pandemic has brought so much of misery and pain to the church planters, as their only source of income and survival are church offerings and tithes,” Pastor Paramanada told ICC. “Now that they cannot hold church service or visit families, it is huge challenge.”
According to Pastor Paramanada, no one has escaped the plight of the pandemic in his district. Pastor Paramanda reports that 90% of households have at least one member infected with the virus, and infections are spreading rapidly.
“It has been a scary situation to know how rapidly the infection is spreading,” Pastor Paramanada said. “People are struggling without food and medicine, no one is coming to our aid.”
For the past three weeks, India has been gripped by a deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This surge in infections has ravaged the population and completely overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system.
Last week, India reported record levels of infections with over 400,000 new cases reportedly contracted in a single day. Actual numbers are expected to be even higher, considering the challenges of data collection in the area. An acute shortage of oxygen, lack of vaccines, and plummeting food supplies are just a few of the factors inciting violence among the grief-stricken population and further threatening the welfare of the persecuted church.
As Christians, we believe in the words of 1 Corinthians 12:26, which says “If one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” Our brothers and sisters in India are suffering greatly, and as members of the global Church, we must bear this burden as our own. Please join ICC in praying for India and all those suffering due to the current COVID-19 crisis.