India has carried out some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdowns. What is happening in the country as a result?
The repercussions of the sudden shutdown is that millions—hundreds of millions—of people there who used to work in the macro cities, urban cities, and suburban areas in the factories, in the multinational companies, and suddenly lost all their jobs. And because they lost their jobs, they will not have any sustainability there to live in those cities.
So within two or three days, they started going back to their villages because they thought that at least, when they go back to their villages, they would find something to eat. And because everything was shut down, many people walked thousands of kilometers to their homes. That created another level of scarcity across the country.
How has the lockdown affected the church specifically?
At the grassroots level, or in suburban cities, most of the church is comprised of daily laborers. And when they lose jobs, they are going home. The pastors, they lost their income from the church, or the tithes, that they used to receive. Everywhere, the Christians are even discriminated against when receiving the government-provided food packets. And suddenly, this has become a big crisis across the country for the Christians and the persecuted Christians, especially since there is no help or support for them.
And because we have a good network among those areas—the rural areas and suburban areas—we learned that there are thousands of families there that are without food. So we started this campaign, this relief distribution work. In the past days, we decided to distribute at least 8,000 food relief kits to 8,000 families. And we are nearly about to achieve that, most probably because when we are going there, connecting with them, we see the enormous need to support them, especially in terms of their future livelihood, their income generation.
So we are planning in the coming days to not only provide the food packets but also stable sustainability, job procurement, skill development and income generation.
Watch Open Doors COVID-19 relief in action in India, Nigeria, Syria and Bangladesh.