RESPONDING TO INDIA’S PANDEMIC CRISIS
There is no doubt that a humanitarian emergency is unfolding in India right now,” Michael Head, PhD, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said. “The stories of a collapsing health system are numerous, with reports of a lack of oxygen for hospitalized patients and bodies burning on pyres in the streets.” *
Every day the news from India is concerning; daily we’re hearing of friends who have tested positive and are in hospitals because of COVID, or have died. Even more alarming, many in India report having lost multiple relatives and friends to COVID. Pastors in India are dying at an alarming rate as they have been ministering to people in need. It’s heartbreaking and shocking to see our beloved India in this state. As the people suffer, we can’t just sit by and observe.
The second wave (some say it’s a third wave) of COVID-19 that descended on India on February 11, 2021 is different than the first wave. The second wave, the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, is a highly infectious double mutant variation which has hit the population hard. Over 380,000 new cases daily are officially being reported, but many say they believe the numbers are grossly under reported. Why? Because many people are not being tested, or are unable to get to clinic or hospital, and if they do, beds are unavailable. COVID deaths are also under-reported. The official number as of May 13 is 4,000 per day in India, but with funeral ghats (crematoriums) overwhelmed with the dead, many are saying these numbers too are much higher. This wave of COVID has hit India with a fury that threatens into sweep other areas of the world.
What’s our response and how can we effectively help in this crisis?
Indigenous Ministries is responding in several ways. We’re actively working with our team at Grace Bible College, local government officials, and another national ministry to meet the most urgent local needs in our area in influence in central India with these responses:
Oxygen Concentrators. The respiratory infections due to COVID can quickly become life-threatening, and for those whose lungs are severely infected, oxygen means the difference between life and death. We’ve purchased eight oxygen concentrators to make pure oxygen available to COVID patients. They’re being used on the GBC campus and a nearby clinic (see “Medical Care” below) to help residents nearby. Each oxygen concentrator costs $625.
Medical Care. We are partnering with a local ministry (a national, Indian ministry we’ve worked with for years and know very well) that has recently set up a medical clinic to help COVID infected residents in surrounding villages. At present they have 55 beds operational. We’re providing oxygen concentrators and medicines for patients, and will assist with setting up more beds.
Food. IMI teams are helping families in nearby villages with staples: rice, salt, sugar, lentils, beans, tea, eggs, etc. to help them get through this crisis. Many who are day laborers are out of work; others cannot get to markets (if they are open) due to all transportation being shut down randomly. Each box of food for a family is $20.
HELP US RESPOND TODAY!! If you want to be part of this response to the COVID pandemic in central India, we invite you to join us. Donate today as generously as you can to IMI’s Rapid Response Fund. It’s because of the past donations that you, our IMI family have given through this fund that we were able to respond immediately! Thank you! But we need new funding to continue to help those in need in India.
Your gift of 2 food boxes for $40, or 10 oxygen concentrators for $6,250, for example, would help. Can you give a gift of $10 or $10,000? Whatever you can give will be a great help. Use the form on page 4 to send in with your check, or go to our website, indigenousministries.org and in the “Donate” button, select “Rapid Response Fund.” Thank you.
YOUR CHURCH CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND RESPOND TO THE PANDEMIC IN INDIA. Would you contact your leadership and share this need? Churches or Sunday school class can take up an offering; send one check to Indigenous Ministries to the address on page 4, or donate securely on IMI’s website.
REASONS BEHIND OUR COVID RESPONSES: While true compassion needs no explanation or defense, there are some who question giving food or medical aid at a time like this and ask, “how does this fulfill the Great Commission Christ gave us? Isn’t this just aid?” Here’s what we have seen time after time: People watch how you and I live as Christians in normal times. Most are indifferent to the gospel, some are skeptics and have little interest in the Good News. That’s true worldwide, not just here. National Christians are watched by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and nominal Christians alike.
When situations are dire, life is at stake and crisis looms, people remember who really cares and who has responded helping their loved ones. In a strongly connected community like India, word spreads fast. Our response matters to individuals and, by the way, to the Indian government. This is an opportunity for us to be the hands and feet of Christ to many in need during the pandemic and in the long term aftermath.
You may have had COVID and know what it means to suffer through this illness, or maybe you’ve lost a loved one or friend in this pandemic. The news and press reporters continue to churn out numbers and facts, but they can never fully share the real stories of each person. The one who does know and is able to reach out to us in the middle of our ugly pain is Christ. If you’re suffering or have lost someone you care about, may he comfort you.
Regarding the COVID aid, we pray God uses our efforts together to His glory and in his timing to draw hearts to himself. After all, it was when you and I were in our greatest need that Christ gave himself for us. It is a privilege to share that love again and again.
“We love because he first loved us…”
I John 4:19.
HUMANIZING THE NUMBERS
Sanjeev Gupta, is a photojournalist based in city of Bhopal. He was assigned to photograph one of the city’s crematoriums last month. Actual deaths reported in Bhopal that day were few, but when he reached the site, dozens of funeral pyres were burning with more bodies lined up to be burned, which was not at all what he expected to see. Looking at all the bodies, he was moved.
What impacted him even more, however, was a request from a young man. The two stood side by side gazing up at a crematorium chimney churning out new smoke. He asked Mr. Gupta to take a picture, saying the smoke represented his mother.
“Covid-19 in India: Why second coronavirus wave is devastating” By Vikas Pandey & Shadab Nazmi, BBC News, Delhi, 21 April, 2021