Greetings to our Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement church family around the world.
Many of our brethren have asked concerning the affect COVID-19 has had on our church family around the world. We praise the Lord that amidst the various difficulties facing the church brethren, He has kept His children under His care and protection.
Our church has, of course, been affected because of temporary lockdowns that have required our physical locations to be closed. However, brethren around the world have been working hard to provide online services and programs.
Members worldwide have suffered with the loss of jobs and businesses due to the pandemic. Those perhaps hit the worst are in Africa where many families work during the day to be able to afford their evening meal. With the loss of their jobs, they cannot afford food.
Over the past few weeks, the GC Welfare Department has been administrating ways to send funds from the GC Welfare Relief Fund to aid them during this crisis. Approximately 2,500 of our brethren across Africa, totalling almost 700 families will receive enough monetary aid to purchase food during quarantine.
The GC Welfare Department alone sent over USD$26,520 last week to feed our brethren in countries across Africa. To help, brethren in Romania have “adopted” the brethren in Rwanda and Burundi and are covering the cost of supporting the 123 families in Rwanda and 183 individuals in Burundi that need assistance. We praise the Lord that the church in Romania can assist in this manner. We are also thankful to God that many of our brethren in Africa are living in the countryside and can live off their land. This has been of paramount importance during this time because, though they fight against poverty every day, at this time they can live off the harvest of their small plantations.
Many Units have also organized local relief activities, drawing from the local church funds to assist those who need it among their own churches and communities. (Photos below of the brethren in India assisting those in need around their local region.)
At the same time that quarantine has been implemented worldwide, Cyclone Harold has brought devastation to the islands in Oceania. So far, we know of 21 families from our church who have lost their homes, land, and belongings because of the storm. Some of these families are the same ones who were evacuated from Vanuatu three years ago because of a volcanic eruption.
Brother Jonas from Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, experienced the Cyclone first hand and writes:
“I come from a small island named Ambae, three and a half hours from Santo. All houses have been destroyed. I also lost my house. And when the wind changed direction, I saw the kids hiding in a container, as the wind became stronger and stronger it started to push the container. I ran over to get the kids out, and we took refuge under a banyan tree. There were 21 of us in all. The water flooded everywhere. I haven't slept all night. All fields of yams, bananas, have been ravaged. At this point, we will be using these destroyed plantations, which will probably make us hold for 2 or 3 weeks. We need to have money to buy food at the store, otherwise we won't eat.
“This is the first time I have faced a cyclone of such magnitude and strength. This made me remember my island, which because of the volcanic eruption [in 2017] we were forced to leave. Now here we are, victims of Cyclone Harold. I've been on Santo for 3 years. I'm so sorry. We have no houses, no more money, but I thank the Lord that He saved us during these times of terror. I know God is at work. Even though we lost everything, He protected us during this stormy night, under this banyan, until the morning. But let us thank the Lord that He has given us another day, and that He has protected us.” – Translated from Bislama
In response to their request, the GC Welfare Department has again drawn from the Welfare Department Relief Fund to provide them with assistance. We praise the Lord and thank Him and you, brethren, for your generous donations. The Welfare Department Relief Fund only exists because of your offerings and assistance, which makes it possible to assist our brethren around the world during their time of need.
May the Lord bless you