This article was originally published by The Mennonite World Review

Churches promote healthy habits to prevent virus spread

Mennonites in the West African nation of Burkina Faso are working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to untouched regions of the country.

As part of $20,000 in emergency aid to help global partners, Mennonite Mission Network allocated $2,000 on March 24 to the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso.

Siaka Traoré, one of the national Mennonite leaders, said the funds will be used to raise awareness in congregations and community education about implementing practices to remain healthy.

A longer-term aspect of the church’s COVID-19 response is providing seed for planting. Coronavirus hasn’t spread quickly in Burkina Faso due to an almost total lockdown of the country. However, this means families accustomed to buying food each day because of lack of refrigeration and other means of storing produce are eating their seed — beans, corn, millet, peanuts and sorghum.

“COVID-19 has caused people to lose hope,” Traoré said. “Some of them have become fatalistic and eaten what they reserved for planting.”

Traoré wrote in a May 5 email about how such demonstrations of compassion encouraged the church in Burkina Faso.

“We don’t know how to express our gratitude to our brothers and sisters in North America,” he said. “[We are especially moved] that those in the United States, who despite their suffering in the country currently hardest hit by the pandemic have thought about us in other parts of the world.”

Africa and elsewhere

Other dispersals of MMN emergency funds went to Latin America in April. Mennonite churches and communities in Peru and Ecuador received $4,000 to provide food and rent for families struggling to survive.

MMN leaders created the emergency fund in March based on the conviction that every person who becomes a follower of Jesus also becomes a member of a global family.

“We saw it as imperative to take action that demonstrated this belief,” said executive director Stanley W. Green. “The body of Christ knows no boundaries. We owe each other compassion and support in time of struggle and crisis.”

Antoine Kimbila, right, president of the Mennonite Brethren Church in the Congo, and others from the church distribute information in Kikwit about how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting Anabaptists around the world to respond to challenges locally and at a distance. — Elysée Mambote/MMN
Antoine Kimbila, right, president of the Mennonite Brethren Church in the Congo, and others from the church distribute information in Kikwit about how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting Anabaptists around the world to respond to challenges locally and at a distance. — Elysée Mambote/MMN

MMN and its partners are also joining hands in other COVID-19 efforts:

— Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission sent an additional $27,700 to the Democratic Republic of Congo for UMER Phase 2 (Urgent Mennonite Aid to combat Epidemics and assist Refugees).

— AIMM, Mennonite Church Canada and MMN have contributed $11,200 to an awareness-raising campaign to be led by Congolese Mennonites. Two of the three Mennonite denominations in Congo have designed teaching posters. These visual tools will be used by trainers in each congregation.

— MMN is collaborating with a dozen other Anabaptist mission and service agencies in a unified effort initiated by Mennonite World Conference to mitigate the ravages of COVID-19.

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