Our Provider calls us to see abundance in the world’s great needs, our meager offering of what we already have, and some faith. This is the lesson the disciples learned in Luke 9, when Jesus told them to feed the thousands. When they looked at the lack (“we have no more than five loaves and two fish”), their teacher saw the gift, thanking God for provision and making room for the miraculous.
Today, those Life In Abundance (LIA) serves in Africa and the Caribbean are facing extreme poverty plus a global pandemic. An equation that from a worldly perspective seems like the perfect storm. In this season of COVID-19, it’s easy to focus on need. Access to accurate information in the poor communities we empower is limited. Masks, soap, and other supplies are not readily available. Already high unemployment rates are rising even higher. Basic healthcare is a privilege few can afford.
Yet, there is space for miracles.
That is what the local churches we partner with across our 14 countries are learning as they work to mobilize their people to love those in need well during this time.
In the beginning, our team in Rwanda said that even identifying the people in the community who needed the most help was overwhelming. It seemed in the uncertainty that everyone was in need and most claimed they had nothing to give. Raising local resources was not an idea churches thought would work. But the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand led to a united body of Christ, repentant of their little faith, and ready to give generously and advocate for the poorest in their communities.
In Uganda, Cosmas Madile, the senior pastor at a church LIA partners with in Adjumani says, “In the face of a vicious pandemic, when it would have been so easy for fear and selfishness to rule, we have found our shared humanity again.” This is what we pray for, as LIA serves to empower those we walk alongside, because we believe Christ’s promise of life in abundance is for everyone and that God is capable of upholding it regardless of circumstance.
As local churches have rallied together to care for their communities, they’ve seen God provide. In Jamaica, three churches were mobilized to offer care packages and COVID-19 information to 40 of the most vulnerable families for three months. While they had funding for the first month, they had to trust the Lord for resources for the next ones. Through letters and phone calls, they sought local donations and were able to continue with deliveries. The LIA team says that love in action was being exhibited all over.
Besides showing up with physical resources, many of our partner churches are also providing emotional care to meet needs during this time. While church gatherings are restricted, local leaders are initiating bringing the church to people’s homes. In Haiti, a “Church in Your House” program has encouraged many church members through phone calls. In the DR Congo, home visits are providing leaders with opportunities to pray with people. In South Sudan and Uganda, churches are offering counselling to those in need, helping to stop domestic violence while families are staying home and lift spirits of those carrying heavy burdens.
People on the receiving end are feeling the difference the church is making. One Sudanese refugee in Egypt says, “I know that God said in the Bible he is the father of the orphan, he will be a husband for the widow. The church has let me see this as a widow raising children. The church has provided for me in difficult times. I have seen the love of God.” Another says, “The day I received the food bag, we had nothing in the house and I was worried what my children would eat… This was the answer to my prayer. I went and took the food to my children. Indeed, God does not forsake us.”
Even during crisis, or maybe especially during crisis, when the local church focuses on spreading hope to those in need, people see God at work. He provides. What a miracle it is to witness.
LIA serves to empower local churches across Africa and the Caribbean so they are able to stop looking at what they lack and make space for God to bring abundance. If you want to help us support and encourage our partners on the field during this season, please visit our COVID-19 page to find out more.