Samuel: There’s always an element of risk, but we are trying to minimize it. We have trained all local partners, so they are aware of hygiene instructions. We have a long list of dos and don’ts.
Do you also give health and hygiene advice to the people we try to help?
Heena: Yes, but it’s limited. Social distancing is very hard in India. Often ten or more people live in one room—not in a house, but a room! And all people in a certain block may use the same toilet. Children often just have one set of clothing and sometimes only wear shorts. It’s very difficult to help them understand they should wear a scarf or face mask. Many people don’t have access to clean water to take a shower or bath, and for many, soap is a luxury they cannot afford. In India, it’s very difficult to follow all the hygiene instructions.”
Are you only helping Christians?
Samuel: Our primary target group are persecuted Christians, especially those who are being neglected by the official relief channels. However, sometimes we receive requests from non-Christians and we are compelled to help them too. But the vast majority of people who receive our aid are persecuted Christians.
To end on a positive note, do you also have examples of God providing for Christians in need?
Samuel: Yes. There was one pastor in desperate need. He couldn’t provide for his family anymore and he didn’t want to die slowly. He and his wife decided to commit suicide with their family. Then one of our partners came to bring food. This was an amazing provision by the Lord.
You know, India has been divided in zones. Some areas are colored red and here there’s very little movement of people allowed. Think about crowded cities like New Delhi, Agra, Nagpur and Mumbai. Nobody can go out or in and many roads are blocked. But other areas are freer. Here it’s possible for us to do relief work. God has opened doors for us to reach Christians most in need. We have already helped over 1,000 families and are preparing to help 7,000 more. Through God’s grace, and through the prayers and gifts of our supporters, we can help many Christians like this pastor’s family.”
Open Doors works through local church partners to help persecuted Christians in India with urgent aid and relief, persecution preparedness training and local advocacy. Since the lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 crisis, we have stepped up our food aid and relief programs. We have given around 1,000 families vital food and other supplies to survive for at least a month and are preparing to help 7,000 families more.
*Names and identities have been disguised to protect security.