“I have seen entire families in the garbage dumps looking to quench their hunger. I have also watched with sadness as they return the elderly from the hospitals because there are no possibilities to attend them, nor medicines to supply them,” said Erwin Francisco Mirabal González, a Mennonite pastor in Venezuela. He coordinated COVID-19 relief for his church in partnership with Mennonite Mission Network and the Colombian Mennoite church (IMCOL) until he became infected and died.
“We pray to the Lord for strength to endure and not to resign ourselves, confidence to keep our work in the midst of adversity, willingness to continue proclaiming the gospel...and to experience his shalom.”
Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force has approved 35 relief proposals with several more approvals in process, including assistance for Mennonites in Venezuela.
Food and sanitation materials are part of all the proposals from Anabaptist member churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With the COVID-19 fund’s assistance, local congregations will bring relief to thousands of families, sharing the love of Christ in a tangible way with church members and their neighbours suffering hunger and lost income.
- Food and hygiene kits for 500 households in five regions in Brazil.
- Food aid and emotional and spiritual support for 300 men and women in Honduras.
- Dry rations, seed grants for small business and an awareness campaign for 700 villagers in four areas of Bihar, India.
- Short and long-term labour opportunities for 250 men and women through agricultural farm development in Parrapat, India.
- Food and hygiene kits for 3 000 families in six regions of Bihar, India, and 300 land-less agricultural labourers in Tamil Nadu, India.
- Equipping 20 farming families in three regions of Uganda.
- Community-based nutritional, educational and health care support for commercial sex workers in Ethiopia.
- Installing 104 handwashing stations in public spaces outside church buildings and distributing food to 90 families in Indonesia.
- Community health education and food relief thousands of men and women and purchasing thermometers for community health survey in Nigeria.
- Equipping 250 households with skills and tools for fruit and vegetable production in Sierra Leone.
- School support for children, a lunch program for aged persons, sanitation material distribution and economic activities in Venezuela.
- Public awareness campaign and hygiene materials to prevent infection and to mitigate gender-based violence in households in Zimbabwe.
“In most cases, church members have established relationships with their most vulnerable neighbours. Giving out food and supplies builds on those connections and underscores the message of the love of Jesus through help in time of need and scarcity,” says Deacons Commission secretary Henk Stenvers.
Job losses and food scarcity affect church members as well. “Assistance from the Global Church Sharing Fund empowers church leaders and their congregations to serve their members and neighbours in a time of multiple crises: pandemic, economic downturn, environmental disaster,” says task force and Peace Commission chair Joji Pantoja.
GCSF COVID-19 fund recipients for the above projects:
- Brazil: Associação Menonita de Ação Integral (GASN member)
- Ethiopia: Meserete Kristos Church
- Honduras: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña
- India: Bharatiya Jukta Christa Prachar (BJCPM)
- India: Bhartiya General Conference Mennonite Church (BGCMC)
- India: Bihar Brethren in Christ Church
- India: Bihar Mennonite Mandli (BMM)
- India: Gilgal Mission Trust
- Indonesia: GITJ (Gereja Injili de Tanah Jawa)
- Nigeria: Nigeria Mennonite Church
- Sierra Leone: Christ Salvation Mennonite Church (with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission and Burkina Faso Mennonite church)
- Uganda: Mennonite Church of Uganda
- Venezuela: Casa de Restauración y Vida de Shalom
- Venezuela: Iglesia Menonita
- Zimbabwe: Brethren in Christ Church
Mennonite World Conference formed the COVID-19 task force with the support of more than 10 global Anabaptist agencies to respond to the needs arising from the pandemic in the global south.
Under the leadership of the MWC Deacons Commission and delegates from around the world, the team determines criteria of accountability and coordinates responses to project proposals. This interagency response maximizes the strength of diverse organizations, builds on existing networks of primary relationships and mitigates competition for scarce funds.