eNews and prayer update August 2021
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Majority World!
While much of the Australian population is in lockdown due to the pandemic, our Christian sisters and brothers in many places around the world have been and are facing an unimaginable crisis. Across the world, Covid-19 has already claimed millions of lives, and the death toll continues to rise. In the midst of this suffering, local pastors that Langham has helped equip are on the ground, leading the church to love and serve in hard places made even harder by Covid. The situation is desperate, and they are calling on the global church to pray.
Below is some information and prayer requests from a pastor serving in northern India. The news is hard. Would you join us in lifting up in prayer India, Indonesia, Brazil and other places where the disease is having devastating effects? Africa is now experiencing its third wave of Covid infections, including the highly transmissible Delta strain. Remember also Myanmar, where the military coup has further weakened the country’s ability to cope with the pandemic. May God have mercy.
Our Indian pastor friend wrote…
“We as a nation are going through terrible times. According to official figures [in May this year], every day 3,600 die and another 400,000 people are affected by Covid-19. But it is said that in reality the real daily death toll is much higher – the media even quoted the number as high as 20,000.
Mass cremations and burials are happening, even on the footpaths. Dead bodies are lined up for the funeral pyre for hours before they are cremated. Corpses are piled up inhumanly in hospitals and outside health centres due to a shortage of space in the mortuary. Local government bodies are converting city parks, car parks and footpaths into cremation spaces.
People are dying in hospitals without oxygen or without an Intensive Care Unit bed and access to doctors. The medical system has collapsed. Though COVID vaccination initiatives are on, due to lack of supply many of the centres are closed. The information and images that we see on TV or on social media are from the major cities of the country. 70% of India’s rural communities struggle desperately without basic health facilities. For them COVID is like a fever or body pain, but eventually death happens and goes unreported. The rural medical infrastructure is in a desperate situation.
During this crisis, sin and the evilness of the human mind have grown to their fullness. Pride, control of vital supplies, manipulations of data, propaganda to protect political idols and corruption have increased. Oxygen cylinders, concentrators and vital medicines are hoarded by politicians and middle men. The black market is very active with 10 to 20 times the original pricing. Even at crematoriums, people have to pay an enormous amount of money to see loved ones buried properly. There is anger, helplessness, loneliness, shame, mental agony, pain, loss and suffering. This is increasing due to the apathy, incompetence, insensitivity and corruption prevailing in the country in this time of crisis.
In our local church, we lost a few members to Covid, and there are more than 60 who tested positive and are taking medication at home. There are horrific stories like one of our fellow believers who waited for hours for hospital admission, and then was informed that no bed was available. He had to be taken to three other hospitals to get admitted finally. But that was too late, we lost him.
We also lost eleven of our key leaders (including two spouses of pastors) in our national church. Pastors are struggling to meet the treatment expenses. Believers are going through a tough time and financial challenges due to partial lockdowns. We have lost many bishops, pastors, and evangelists at the national church level. In many seminaries staff are affected and also lost a few faculty members. There are many senior leaders who are in critical condition.
However, Christians are making a difference amid suffering.
There are a lot of initiatives by the church. Christian hospitals are doing their best to serve the people. [Despite COVID protocols…] The church is actively engaged in serving in many ways—setting up food banks, preparing food for those who have lost jobs, offering financial assistance for medical treatments, purchasing oxygen cylinders for those most in need, organizing free ambulance services, and helping pay burial expenses. Christian volunteers are serving in the cemeteries to give dignified burial services… while counselling and supporting families going through grief. And widows of the pastors are being helped with financial assistance.
Please join us in prayer for …
1. God’s wisdom for leaders to make right decisions regarding using resources to reduce pain and suffering.
2. Pray that medical supplies will be available (Covid vaccines, other vital medicines, oxygen…). Please pray against the black marketing and hoarding of oxygen and critical medicines.
3. Families who are going through enormous pain of loss, neglect, loneliness, and helplessness, including pain (or guilt) of not being able to take care of their loved ones and not giving a proper farewell to the deceased.
4. Pray for the church leadership and believers. The church has stopped all physical meetings; please pray that the faith life of the believers is strong during this crisis.
5. The seminaries and Bible colleges. Last year, almost all seminaries closed residential programs. Now it’s unclear how to move forward. It is affecting leadership training, the preparation of thousands of future leaders.
6. Christian hospitals are serving people in crisis. Please pray the staff will become hope amid chaos.
7. Christians are engaged in helping people in all sorts of ways. Pray for greater collaboration, cooperation and resource mobilization among the Christian groups.
Please pray for these Preaching events:
Where the country is sensitive, the region and month is given
August – South Asia (two countries)
23-29 August – Cambodia (two events)
26-27 August – Colombia
September – SE Asia
1-3 Sept – Burkina Faso
4-11 Sept – Africa meetings
6 Sept – Sierra Leone
6-10 Sept – Benin
6-10 Sept – Colombia
7 -15 Sept – Burkina Faso (2)
15 Sept – USA (Latin America diaspora)
Gillean Smiley writes …
Before the changes of the past two years, as borders shut down and people became far less mobile than before, we saw one of the greatest movements of people in history. Millions around the world were displaced through threats to their home and livelihoods, and some of these displaced communities have been hardest hit as they have few resources and no ability to isolate or be socially distant. In our own uncertainty and difficulties, let us remember the majority wherever they may be found and love our neighbour with compassion and generosity.