Filled with compassion

Devender Verma

The pandemic brought several different challenges to India:

  1. COVID-19 itself. The number of cases the government reports is just the tip of the iceberg. There are few places where people can get tested so people don’t know if they have the virus. Lockdown prevented people from working so many left the cities and went back to their villages, carrying coronavirus with them. Here in Delhi, many live in slums and so they can’t socially distance from each other. Three people in my church were found to be COVID positive but the hospital didn't have space for them. I called each of them to give them hope and pray for them. As I heard the fear in their voices I had tears in my eyes.
  2. Other medical emergencies. Because there are so many COVID-19 patients, people with other diseases are not given attention. One lady from my church passed away because she had to have dialysis but no hospital would treat her. Many doctors have shut down their clinics because they are afraid of getting coronavirus. 
  3. The economic impact. Factories closed, exports stopped. The agriculture industry ground to a halt as transport restrictions led to supply chains breaking down. It may take years for the Indian economy to recover.
  4. Job loss and starvation. One survey reported that 120 million people lost their jobs. Rickshaw pullers, daily labourers, hawkers, shop workers – they were left with no money to provide food for their families. They effectively had to choose how they wanted to die: if they went out they would die of the virus but if they stayed at home they would die of hunger.

The Government tried to help but the task is huge. 

Our church network helped people in Delhi’s slums by providing food for those most in need. For migrant workers who were travelling by foot back to their home villages, we provided packets of cooked rice with vegetables and bottles of water. We also gave this to people living in temporary shelters who had no food or water. Every two days we were distributing 300-400 packets of food, with another NGO doing this on the alternate days. By July we had given out 8,000 food packets.

We also gave groceries to needy families, enough to support four family members for three weeks. We’d repeat this every three weeks. We would call people to the church one by one to give them a bag of food or take the food parcels to people in their homes. We gave this food to needy church members and also non-Christians who were in need. They were struck by what the church was doing for them that no-one else was.

We distributed the food parcels to the slum communities surrounding our church’s five locations, reaching 1,000 families in total. In most cases we were able share about Christ and pray for them. Eight non-Christian families have since come to the church for prayer, saying that only Jesus can help them in this situation.

This work was only possible thanks to Christians across the globe who prayed and gave financially. Though in lockdown in various parts of the world, these brothers and sisters played a real part in gospel mission here in Delhi.

People leaving Delhi for their home villages.