Coronavirus and the Church in India

Rachel Chimits

Many people, especially the working poor in Central Asia, are faced with an impossible conundrum of safety versus provision as COVID-19 quarantines freeze cities.

Social distancing and quarantine in India may be what’s ordered, but for many families, it’s simply not possible.

"’I earn 600 rupees ($8; £6.50) every day and I have five people to feed,’ one man explained to a BBC reporter. “We will run out of food in a few days. I know the risk of coronavirus, but I can't see my children hungry.’

“Millions of other daily-wage earners are in a similar situation. The lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening means they are now facing no prospect of income for the next three weeks. The likelihood is, some will run out of food in the coming days.”

A vender who sells water bottles to now-nonexistent tourists chimed in to the conversation. "I know everything about coronavirus. It's very dangerous, the whole world is struggling. Most people who can afford and have a place to stay are indoors. But for people like us, the choice is between safety and hunger. What should we pick?"

Even while the world is caught in the grips of the coronavirus, the church’s mercy ministries to the most vulnerable must carry on. In India, our partners are still making the rounds to care for orphans and widows who are often completely dependent on the church’s aid.

Almost Lost to the Dog Pack

As ministries work to keep those in need of food supplied in India, we ask for your prayers for those who continuing to deliver supplies to widows. Their health concerns cannot be for themselves alone but also for the precious people they serve.

Two young men in particular have been great helpers in our partners’ widows and elderly ministry. One named Reyansh* regularly helps with literacy classes, house repairs or other related works.

They both came across a dangerous situation, however, late one night. Reyansh was driving his motorcycle across town with his friend on the back. Street dogs by the dozen ran back and forth in the lights, eyes glinting. Normally, they eat scraps from street venders or offerings in temples, but with the quarantine, many of them are beginning to starve. The pack attacked their motorcycle.

One of the dogs ran in front of the bike, and the crash threw both men off. The dog died immediately. Both Reyansh and his friend hit their heads, but the pack scattered thanks to the chaos, and neither man was further harassed by the street dogs.

However, because of the wreck, Reyansh lost a lot of skin on his hand and leg as well as two fingernails. “This is causing him quite a bit of pain,” our partners reported. “He's a very nice young man; please pray for his quick recovery.”

Since going to a hospital could very well expose him to the coronavirus, please ask God to bring this bold young worker healing and recuperation in the safety of his home.

Mercy Ministries There and Internationally

Many of our partners around the world face similar dilemmas as their countries struggle to balance health safety and fiscal issues.

One newspaper reported, “There has been growing concern over how huge numbers of poor workers in the developing world will cope if strict quarantine measures are imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“With large numbers lacking sick pay and savings to cushion the economic impact, or any way to work from home, there are fears many workers will be forced to choose between destitution and defying restrictions....”

The role of mercy ministries to those in need has never been more important than now. Please pray for our partners abroad and also consider how you can help in your local community. Even in affluential countries like the US, quarantines have cost many people their jobs and some are facing financial hardship.

We are the family of God, and that has never been more important than at the present moment.

*Not real name. For our ministry partners’ security, we don’t release names or locations in highly sensitive areas.