By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Karna Rokka, Tej’s brother and a pastor with SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) ministry, left, distributing food to neighbors in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A Muslim man called Pastor Tej Rokka on the phone Friday night in Kathmandu, Nepal. “I picked up his call and heard his cry,” Tej said. “He has no rice and he came from the border of India and worked at a sewing center. But after the lockdown, he couldn’t go (back) to his village and the owner (of the sewing center) is not responding to his call.
“Someone gave him my number and he called me,” said Tej, a long-time Climbing For Christ member and ministry partner.
Nepal has been locked down by COVID-19 for seven weeks.
“Here, the lockdown is very strict,” said Megh Gurung, Climbing For Christ’s Kingdom worker in Nepal. “Nobody can walk in public places.
“Laborers were thinking the lockdown will be short-term, but it became long. So, they can’t sustain for their families.”
The coronavirus global pandemic has claimed a quarter-billion lives. And is devastating many, many more. It is wrecking the lives of millions, especially in the majority world.
COVID-19’s impact prompted a special Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday (known as #GivingTuesday) normally follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday (read: the commercialization of CHRISTmas) after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is intended to prompt charitable giving worldwide, and it worked last year to the tune of nearly $2 billion.
Today (May 5) is the special Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesdayNow). It is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.
We are using this day to raise relief funds to help our co-workers in Haiti (Gilbert Lindor), Malawi (Damson Samson), Nepal (Megh and Tej), Pakistan (Haseeb Masih), Peru (Edwin Milla) and Tanzania (Damson) deal with the impact of coronavirus. My prayerful dream is to raise $7,000 – $1,000 for each of our brothers in Christ where they are serving the immeasurable need. Please read the “Areas of need” at the end of this story.
The Muslim man has weighed on my heart – as we are in the midst of Project Prayer: Ramadan 2020 – since Tej shared his story.
“I am praying for him,” Tej said, “and I must do something to help him.”
But that is not the only person in need.
“I received another call from a Dalit woman saying that there are eight families in her neighborhood who are without food,” Tej said. The Dalit are the lowest caste, the poorest of the poor.
We serve both spiritual and physical needs among some of the poorest people in the world, including Malawi (sixth-poorest country, according to the World Bank), Haiti (No. 14), Nepal (No. 31), and Tanzania (No. 34).
A widow in Sakwedwa village, Malawi is overcome with gratitude after receiving a sleeping mat to put on her dirt floor, and a water bucket and soap to wash her hands. (CLICK HERE for more Mission Moments from Malawi.)
“Being in a country like Malawi, there is a lot to say regarding the way our widows are living,” said Damson, our Kingdom worker in East Africa. “It is very pathetic.
“Widows are just left to die – as many of their relatives can’t provide enough support to them.”
There is not enough food and even less medical care.
This is common, unfortunately, where most of our co-workers are serving.
In Pakistan, long-time C4C member and ministry partner Haseeb Masih told of a mother with a 3-year-old son who hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and was begging for food. “She met a man who told her to sleep with him and then in return he will give her food and milk for her son,” Haseeb relayed. “She told us, ‘I was thinking to sleep with him for my son, but God sent you to rescue me and my son.’”
People in Peru have been living in quarantine for seven weeks. “This measure left everything paralyzed and nobody was prepared to face these measures,” said Edwin, our Kingdom worker in Peru. “Many people worked daily for the daily expense of food, so these people ran out of money and food.”
Edwin’s 80-year-old mother-in-law was infected by COVID-19, “but a miracle has happened in her life. Knowing that she was infected, the whole family cried out to the Lord in fast and prayer, and God has had mercy and healed my mother-in-law.”
Peru has the second-most reported cases of coronavirus in South America (trailing only Brazil).
In Haiti, there is a curfew and schools were closed. But tap-taps – converted trucks that serve as public transportation – remain jammed with people. “The saddest thing about that is that people do not want to stay home and go out into the street without protection in search of daily bread,” said Gilbert, our Kingdom worker in Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere does not have the wherewithal to handle the spread of coronavirus. Almost miraculously there have been only nine deaths reported, while next door in the D.R. there have been 10 times as many cases of this horrible disease.
“I don’t think we can feed an entire community,” Gilbert said, “but as the Bible says in Galatians 6:10, in cases that we can support, we must first consider the brothers of the faith.”
That includes the nine teachers we support and C4C New Generation members, such as one who has not been able to pay his rent ($100 a month) the past two months.
Kilimanjaro porter Baraka Membawe and his family in Tanzania.
Guides and porters who are part of our Kilimanjaro Chapter in Tanzania are facing the same challenges. There is no tourism so there is no work on the mountain.
“They are failing to pay rent, especially those living hand to mouth,” Damson said. “They have been calling and asking if they could borrow money to sustain their families.”
Providing for our workers is vital.
Because no matter how difficult situations become, God does not slumber nor sleep. God is still at work.
“Today, I went to visit believers with not (being) seen by policemen,” Megh told me Sunday from locked-down Nepal. “I met a guy; his name is Lal Bahadur Pulami. He was thirsting and hungry for the Word of God. I shared the Word of God. Lal accepted Jesus today.”
How you can give
We have a GoFundMe page set up for this COVID-19 fundraiser. Go to https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/climbing-for-christ-covid-19-giving-tuesday to give.
Or you can:
- CLICK HERE to give online via PayPal;
- Send a check to Climbing For Christ, c/o COVID-19 Relief, P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616;
- Text to donate (text GIVEC4C to 44-321).
In Canada, make cheques payable to The Great Commission Foundation, and on the memo line add Climbing For Christ CANADA. Mail your support to: The Great Commission Foundation, c/o C4C Canada COVID-19 Relief, P.O. Box 14006, Abbotsford, BC V2T 0B4. Or CLICK HERE to give online and put C4C Canada COVID-19 Relief in the Comments box.
Areas of need
HAITI (88 reported cases, 9 deaths): Teachers and pastors have asked for food support for their communities. We serve in three villages with hundreds of families. Many members of C4C’s New Generation “are having a very difficult time,” Gilbert said. “Even one of them asked if he could come to cook and be able to sleep in my house because he cannot pay his rent, he is not working, and his documents have expired. We gave him some food. Do you think we could help him with the house payment?” He owes $300, including this month’s rent. C4CNG members live in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where 8,235 cases had been reported as of yesterday with 346 deaths.
MALAWI (41 cases, 3 deaths): Damson suggests providing food items, such as flour, rice, beans, cooking oil, as well as soap for the widows in need. Many widows care for grandchildren, whose parents have died from AIDS. He said $89 can provide food for a widow with two grandchildren. “To those who are sick, I also thought of providing them with hot meals,” he said. “Some have nobody who will care for them.”
NEPAL (75 cases, 0 deaths): Food packages containing rice, lentils, salt, sugar, tea, cooking oil, and soap – valued at $30 each – could be distributed by Tej and Megh. “If God will open the hands for help to others,” Megh said, “people will be happy (to receive) and we can spread the Gospel among them.” Gas cylinders, which cost $13 and last 1 ½ months, also are needed. Some people have food, but no way to cook it because they are out of gas. Medicine is in short supply and Tej proposes giving $25-$50 to those who are sick and in need of drugs.
A starving man hung himself in Paksitan.
PAKISTAN (20,884 cases, 476 deaths): “Hunger is taking more lives here than COVID-19,” said Haseeb Masih, a long-time C4C member and founder of ministry partner Save Pakistan. “The fear of going hungry is suffered by hundreds of thousands of workers and their families. (It has caused) mental anxiety across the country. During this lockdown, many have committed suicide because of starvation.” Christians are denied assistance by Muslim organizations. With some funding assistance from Climbing For Christ, Haseeb has been distributing food packs valued at $15 each, which include flour, sugar, cooking oil, rice, potatoes, tomatoes, tea, and soap.
PERU (45,928 cases, 1,286 deaths): Despite the spread of coronavirus, Edwin said, the government has decided to lift the country’s quarantine on May 10. In the meantime, there is a great need for food and medicine. “Many provincial people (like those from his hometown of Huaraz) migrated to the capital in search of better opportunities,” Edwin said. “Because of COVID-19 they ran out of money, so they have not been able to pay their rent and are thrown into the street by the owners of the houses. Now they are trying to walk back to their home cities in hundreds of caravans (of people). The most painful thing is that on the way they are dying of coronavirus and hunger.”
TANZANIA (480 cases, 16 deaths): Out-of-work guides and porters need help paying rent. We would like to establish a Kilimanjaro Chapter Fund that would allow members to borrow money during this time of need. When tourism begins again and those who borrow have clients on the mountain, they would repay the loans.
Note: The poorer countries, like Haiti, Malawi, and Nepal, have even less access to testing and medical care so the numbers for those countries may be inaccurately low.
The final Word
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” – Galatians 6:10 (NLT)