This article was originally published by The Mennonite

‘It will reflect our love of Christ’: Mennonite World Conference COVID-19 fund provides assistance

Photo: Bishop Bijoy Kumar Roul (purple shirt with black vest) in a market in India during pre-COVID-19 times. Photo by Henk Stenvers.

Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force has approved 21 relief proposals, including one from Bishop Bijoy Kumar Roul, chairman of the Brethren In Christ Church, Cuttack, Odisha, India.

“It will reflect our love of Christ to them, [that] we care and are concerned for them, and it will also bring smile in their faces,” Roul says.

Food and sanitation materials are part of all the proposals from Anabaptist member churches of Mennonite World Conference in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With the COVID-19 fund’s assistance, local congregations in more than a dozen countries will bring relief to thousands of church members and their neighbors.

  • Seed assistance and microloans for greater economic self-sufficiency for farmers and entrepreneurs in Kennedougou, Burkina Faso.
  • Food and health supplies for 700 households in six regions of Odisha, India, with widespread job losses.
  • Food and health kits for 500 low-income community members in Ecuador.
  • Education in Democratic Republic of Congo: training church leaders as health and hygiene tutors for their communities; distributing leaflets in French, Kikongo, Lingala and Tshiluba, and spreading positive messages on radio; giving sanitation supplies to churches and schools.
  • Food for members of an outpost church in Sumba, Indonesia, a small island that often escapes the attention of the Indonesian government and has no other NGOs at work.
  • Aid for more than 900 households in six regions of Kisumu County, Kenya, affected by severe flooding in addition to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Financial aid for women and men whose income generation opportunities in the informal economy disappeared with pandemic lockdowns in Evangelical Mennonite churches in Angola (IEMA).
  • Purchase of soaps, gloves, masks and thermometers, along with desks and chairs, to re-open schools and churches in compliance with government distancing and hygiene regulations in Mennonite churches in Angola (ICMA).
  • Training workshops, sanitation equipment and education materials distribution for pastors and leaders to aid their congregations to live safely in the time of with COVID-19 in Mennonite Brethren churches in Angola (IEIMA).

“In most cases,” says Deacons Commission secretary Henk Stenvers, “church members have established relationships with their most vulnerable neighbors. Giving out food and supplies builds on those connections and underscores the message of the love of Jesus through help in time of need and scarcity.”

Job losses and food scarcity affect church members as well.

Task force member and Peace Commission chair Joji Pantoja says, “Assistance from the Global Church Sharing Fund empowers church leaders and their congregations to serve their members and neighbors in a time of multiple crises: pandemic, economic downturn, environmental disaster.”

Global Church Sharing Fund/COVID-19 fund recipients for the above projects:

  • Burkina Faso: Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso
  • India: Mennonite Church Service Fellowship of India (MCSFI)
  • Ecuador: Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana
  • DR Congo: CONIM (Comite National Inter Mennonite) – a collaboration of the three Mennonite national churches: Communauté des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (CEFMC), Communauté Mennonite au Congo (CMCo), Communauté Évangélique Mennonite (CEM)
  • Indonesia: GKMI (Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia Ekklesia – Muria Christian church)
  • Kenya: Kenya Mennonite Church
  • Angola: Igreja Evangelica Menonita em Angola (IEMA)
  • Angola: Igreja da Comunidade Menonita em Angola (ICMA)
  • Angola: Igreja Evangelica Irmãos Menonitas en Angola (IEIMA)

Mennonite World Conference formed the COVID-19 task force with the support of more than 10 global Anabaptist agencies to respond to the needs arising from the pandemic in the Global South.

Under the leadership of the Mennonite World Conference Deacons Commission and delegates from around the world, the team determines criteria of accountability and coordinates responses to project proposals. This inter-agency response maximizes the strength of diverse organizations, builds on existing networks of primary relationships and mitigates competition for scarce funds.

More information is available the COVID-19 response fund here.

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