Global Update – 15 April 2020
Greetings to you all as you continue managing this unusual time of lockdown. This update is to share with you from some of the Global Neighbourhood initiatives and individuals you support through Discovery Church. Please join with us in prayer as we continue to remember our global partners, and the vastly more challenging circumstances vulnerable families and communities are experiencing in countries like India right now.
Roedie and Jeannette Rap – CIS
Roedie and Jeannette have returned safely to Australia following their most recent trip to the Caucasus region. Even though they were not able to finish their full program, they did finish a very important 5-day seminar with the church in Gori in Georgia and much healing has come from this. Important family visits in the Netherlands were also done. When it became clear that many countries were entering lockdown and restricting international travel, various miraculous provisions of transport came their way, allowing them to have a safe trip back home.
Glen & Jayne Cox – India
Many of you are aware that Glen and Jayne – former Discovery Church staff members – have been living and working in India for a number of years now, and you have continued to fund their ministry there through our Vision Offering. Their calling and hearts have been to develop business as mission (BAM) initiatives, supporting local Christian businesses grow and to support sustainable community development projects through the growing food processing sector. Glen and Jayne continue to serve in India following the government lockdown on 24th March, and remain safe and well at this time. The state government where they live have been managing the crisis much better than other states.
Pray not only for them, but also for vulnerable people groups and migrant workers. 85% of people in India rely on the informal economy to sustain their livelihoods, which has left many stranded and hungry during this lockdown period. We have also included a more detailed and heartening letter from them directly below this update.
EFICOR Maternal & Child Health Project – India
Discovery Church has been supporting EFICOR’s maternal and child health project over the past couple of years, supporting thousands of women and their babies to access healthcare in Balangir, Odisha. In this region, estimates suggest close to 100,000 people migrate to larger cities for seasonal work to provide vital income for their families. With the recent situation, these workers are returning home to Balangir but are facing immense pressure to make ends meet without income and the prospect of this continuing over the coming weeks and months. EFICOR staff have already been hard at work raising awareness of how to slow the spread the of the virus and are hoping to provide emergency supplies of food and hand soap to some of the most vulnerable families in this region.
EFICOR is responding similarly to the COVID-19 situation in a range of locations where they already work across India to ensure people without the safety nets we have in Australia can make it through this difficult situation. Please partner with us in prayer for EFICOR and the communities they are working with. You can also financially support their national efforts by making a donation.
Account Name: Discovery Church
Reference: EFICOR COVID-19 Response
Grace and peace to you all as you continue to remember our global neighbours prayerfully during this season.
With every blessing,
The Neighbourhood Team
A Message from Glen & Jayne Cox
Greetings from Incredible India!
Thanks so much to everyone who has checked in on us recently to enquire how we’re going. We’re feeling really peaceful that we are in the right place where God wants us albeit Covid-19 has turned our world upside down; no doubt the same could be said for you. We’re believing that this is the Church’s window to pray that many people and nations will turn to Jesus and will posture themselves in a way to allow God to have his way. We believe this is our time to see the greatest turning point in history for the next move of God.
India’s PM asked 1.3 billion people to stay at home for three weeks to slow the spread of Covid-19 in this crowded and densely packed country. April 1st saw the first slum dweller in Dharavi, one of the biggest slum’s in the world die with Covid-19. With more than half-a-million people spread over less than a square mile in this slum, this is alarming. There is no possibility of social distancing here and not many of these people will be able to afford health care, if needed. Please pray for them.
Looking for opportunities to connect with and to love our neighbours during this time has been fun. We’ve exchanged whatever vegetables each of us are growing. When one goes out to shop, we’ve picked up items for each other. We’ve shared when the veggie vendor ran short of supplies. We’ve given to others who didn’t have funds to buy essentials. We’ve smiled and waved from a distance and have connected through WhatsApp. It’s the neighbour who knocked on the door to make sure we knew about the 9 minutes of lights out, which the PM had called to unify everyone by coming to our windows with a candle to shine light on the darkness. It’s the simple things that have warmed our hearts during this lockdown.
Here’s what we have been up to, given the nature of our primary focus in rural Maharashtra as Kingdom focused business enablers. With language barriers plus limitations regarding movement, we were wondering how best we could serve this community. Just on a week ago we felt a prompting to look at our resources and see what we could do to impact the community we live and work in. Here are some of the projects that have unfolded since.
In response to the growing distress for daily wage earners who aren’t allowed to work because of the lockdown, our partners Mala’s Fruit Products, invited their employees to consider donating one days salary from their monthly pay and they would match these donations rupee for rupee. As part of the work we do with Mala’s, we receive a monthly consultants fee. We felt that giving this fee up to support this initiative would be something we could do to contribute to the cause. The funds raised from this campaign has managed to support over 100 families with basic essentials in the Panchgani region, about 20 km from our home. We are now looking to raise funds for a ventilator for one of the larger hospitals in Satara where there are currently 6 Covid-19 patients needing specialised care. These numbers grew from 3 the previous day. This hospital is 30 km south of where we live and is the major hub for this district. Reality check: There are 48,000 ventilators in India with a population of 1.3 billion.
Flow on effect.
We were in contact with good friends in Pune who run 9 of their own coffee shops plus support a network of over 80 stores across India. We had sensed that cash flow issues would not only strangle their business but also impact the network businesses as well. This was confirmed in a subsequent phone call. We came up with an amount that we could give to support these businesses to pay their staff while they try to manage with zero cash flow. We felt that the potential collapse of this amazing network of faith-based businesses, providing literally 100’s of meaningful jobs to people of all creeds and castes, was too important just to stand by and watch them go under. Unlike Australia, there is no possibility of any government support to keep businesses afloat during a crisis like this.
Networking to help.
We have been approached by two reputable NGO’s, one was EFICOR whom we already partner with in a Maternal and Child Health project in Orissa. The former CEO of EFICOR leads the second NGO so we have high trust for both organisations. Both NGO’s need funds to respond to the immediate relief situation in much the same way as described above that we are backing locally. These projects are designed to support subsistent communities where they already run community development projects. We have been doing our best to not only financially support these NGO’s personally but to network with a vast array of organisations including Discovery Church, to raise funds to support this short-term immediate need.
Do what you can.
While much of what we have mentioned talks about the resourcing aspect of what we have been doing here, there are other aspects to how our lives outwork here on the ground in India. Despite the lockdown we have managed to create community in a number of places. An example of this has been some recent interactions with a Mumbai based Faith & Work collective. This is a group of faith-based professionals/business owners who are looking to network through the crisis. Already we have formed small groups after a webinar held last Saturday and the small group has already met once online. The questions, fears and concerns being raised clearly show how tough it is for many people out there right now. We feel this has given us an opportunity to speak faith and peace into some really challenging situations with people encountering all kinds of issues including one organisation losing a staff member to Covid-19. We have sensed that while it is challenging to be here, we are called to serve this nation and it’s people in whatever way we can. We do not believe that it is an accident that we are here and believe that Christ through us can bring a real and significant impact into people’s lives. Whether it be for a person running an NGO struggling with funding streams drying up or a large multi-national looking to set up business in this country or a daily wage earner no longer able to work to feed their family, there are many opportunities to love God and love our brothers and sisters. Thank you for joining with us in this work in India.
If nothing else, this lockdown time has reminded us how important kindness and compassion is and to respond to what God puts on your heart to do seemingly small things. We greatly value our relationship with precious DC family. We’re humbled that your partnership with us has made all of the above possible. We pray that God will continue to position us all to respond in a way to allow God to have his way and give him all the glory.
May each of you be well and full of peace.
Glen & Jayne