The past few weeks have presented many challenges. The brother of the leader our work in Liberia died unexpectedly, leaving our director with big financial responsibilities for the hospital and funeral costs. Shortly afterward, he fell seriously ill and was “out of commission” for several weeks. Next, one of the key leaders in the ministry we partner with in the Congo died suddenly, leaving a big void in both the lives of his family and friends and in the operation of the ministry. Then, COVID took the lives of two great leaders in Nepal – both of whom were our very close personal friends. In addition, the political takeover in Myanmar has continued to impose injustice, injury, and instability among the people – leaving many in dire conditions due to loss of work. Of course, the pandemic resurgence in India and many other countries has continued to cause both physical and financial suffering.
On top of the personal needs that the people around the world are facing, many of the ministries we work with have found themselves unable to continue with their projects due to lack of funds. One example is the church that we are helping to build in the Muslim-dominated country of Niger. We shared a couple months ago about how Teach All Nations stepped in to fund the completion of the exterior walls when funding from other sources dried up. When we were asked to also help finance the roof for the building before the rainy season brought downpours that would destroy all the work that had been accomplished, we immediately responded. However, just as we were ready to transfer funds, we learned that the pastor was going to sell his car to pay for the flooring. On the same day that we heard this news, an unexpected gift came in from a friend who is not a regular donor to Teach All Nations. This generous gift made it possible for us to save the pastor from making such a big personal sacrifice.
This month’s newsletter featured the story of the loss of two great leaders in the nation of Nepal. Just a couple days after we received that news, we were in a meeting with the leader of one of the ministries we are associated with in India. Since he had close ties with the Nepali leaders who had passed away, we asked if he had received the news. He had not and was shocked and deeply saddened by the double tragedy. After a few minutes of conversation about how difficult it will be for the Nepali church due to this void in their leadership, our Indian friend remarked that he had lost almost twenty percent of the leadership in his due to COVID deaths and that it would take years for his organization to raise up a new level of leadership. A few days later, we had a phone visit with the director of another ministry that we work with in India. We again shared about the loss in Nepal and followed up with the news we had received from our other Indian friend. The response that we received was that COVID had claimed the lives of about ten percent of the leadership in this organization. Shortly afterward, we received news of the death of another leader – in fact, one that Delron would have been ministering with had the pandemic not made us cancel our travel itineraries last year. Our director added that it is even more difficult to continue his work during this second wave of infections in that the travel permits that were granted for him to go out to distribute food to the needy during the first quarantine have not been renewed during this second spike. The people are starving, but he simply cannot get to them with the supplies we have provided.
Our work in Myanmar has been suffering under not only the pandemic but also the military’s take-over of the government. Shutdowns, curfews, and travel restrictions were already in place due to COVID, but the coupe made conditions even worse with the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. In fact, the officers arrested three of our pastor’s neighbors just a few nights ago – and one of them is still unaccounted for. The new regime has imposed a ten percent levy on all financial transactions, making it very expensive for the people to get food – even with the funds we have been able to send them.
All these losses coupled with the sudden death of one of the workers in the Congo – we reported this in a recent thank you letter – have really rekindled the fire in our hearts to get back out on the mission field and do even more to raise up a new generation of leaders to take the places of those who have fallen prey to the pandemic.
This month, we want to share with you some reports that we received from the ministry that we are supporting in India. Even though we haven’t been able to travel, your prayers and support are making a life-and-death difference in India and around the world.
“Today my heart is heavy to let you know that we lost our Himalayan coordinator to COVID. He who was doing an excellent job in serving needy families; now, it is his family who needs our support. In addition, two of our teammates are currently recovering from covid.
“We are facing a strict lockdown. Last year we were granted pass from the government to go out and distribute food supplies during the lockdown; however, during this second wave, we have not been able to obtain these travel permits. Therefore, there are needy people that we simply cannot get to. In fact, one of our team members recently discovered eight people dead in their home. Getting the food distributions out makes the difference in who will survive for another day.
“Many of the people we are caring for are single mothers and widows like Laxmi and Uma. Laxmi is a non-believer and a widow who couldn’t control her tears when our worker came to her door with a grocery packet. She said, “Your God is a real God. There was no food in my house since I am not able to go to work. I was starving. But your God took care of me.” Uma, a single mother, said, “There was almost no food left in my home. I was afraid about how I would be able feed my child, but now I am relieved.” Others are believers who have suffered much during the pandemic. Pastor Suvartharaju said, “The past one and half years have been a tremendous tough time for us. Our church is closed, leaving me with no income for the whole time. All our savings are gone, and we are left with no food. This support is a huge blessing for our family.”
Pastor Suvartharaju then added that he will pray that God would abundantly bless all those who provided the food for him and his family. We join him in his prayers for you!