Hope in Action

The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for vulnerable populations around the world. Those living in poverty experienced high rates of infection, death, and overwhelming economic losses.

The virus reached every one of the 11 countries where Global Aid Network (GAiN) provides relief and development initiatives. Local government restrictions paused all operations and GAiN adapted quickly in the spring with a COVID response for every project to safely connect people with resources that provide hope, faith, and life.

April

To address heightened concerns about the fragile state of health and hygiene, GAiN’s Water for Life Initiative (WFLI) pivoted to a COVID-19 prevention strategy. Local teams supplied handwashing stations and personal protective equipment to their communities and trained over 6,000 people in sanitation and hygiene measures.

WFLI also developed a Pastor’s Support Program to help those in surrounding church communities struggling with food insecurity. They provided approximately 400 pastors with food for their families.

“I am short of words to say what I feel. When we were advised to stock up on food because of the COVID-19 outbreak, I tried to buy rice for my family but I could not renew the stock. This morning, as I was about to leave the house, my children came to me and said they were hungry. I told them that they would have rice when I came back, even though I had no money. But here I am at GAiN’s office with bags of rice. Praise God!” – Pastor Laido Faustin, Benin

June

The female entrepreneurs GAiN supports through a microfinance project in Paraguay struggled to provide for their families in 2020. With a country-wide ban on public gatherings, they were unable to meet together and many of their businesses suffered.

To continue to support the women and empower them to make informed decisions, Diaconia, GAiN’s in-country partner, developed online vocational training courses on how to make cleaning products, baking, decorating thermoses, etc., as well as a course on financial literacy presented on the social media platform, Whatsapp. Diaconia also developed a crisis management module to train their group chaplains to deal with the trauma and loss experienced through the pandemic.

To help alleviate the stress of food insecurity for their clients’ families, Diaconia teamed up with a local organization to safely run approximately 49 soup kitchens in multiple communities, reaching over 8,500 people.

“Every Saturday, I serve at a soup kitchen located in a squatter village where many families have up to eight children. We pray for them and share the Word of God. It fills us with joy to be useful and see lives transformed.” – Irene T, Diaconia Chaplain

August

On August 4th, a devastating explosion rocked the city of Beirut, killing over 200 people and injuring over 7,500. Over 300,000 people were displaced — many of them children.

GAiN immediately partnered with local organizations and churches to clean up debris, deliver aid packages, and pray for those they encountered in the city. Over 5,000 people were reached by these physically-distanced acts of service.

Virginia and her large family live together in a small apartment within 8 kilometres of the Beirut explosion. When GAiN’s local partner arrived at her door with packages of food, Virginia shared her struggles, and they told her of God’s love. Virginia gestured to her grandson with autism and said, “He is a strong believer and gets emotional whenever someone talks about Jesus.”

One of the volunteers said to the boy, “Jesus loves you so much. You are very special to Him, and He is so proud of you and your faith.” The boy, who usually doesn’t communicate verbally, responded enthusiastically, “I love Jesus too and I trust him only.” Virginia and her family were overjoyed by the interaction.

September

WFLI recommenced drilling operations in Tanzania and Benin, bringing the total number of wells for the year to 128 and benefitting 128,000 people. GAiN teams provided communities with clean water, hygiene and sanitation training, and the message of Jesus in local languages.

Recently, a community in northern Benin shared about the impact a water well has had in their village over the last year.

“We suffered from many illnesses because of the quality of water we drank. But today we have clean water available and we don’t use the water from the river anymore,” says Yero, a local villager. “The recent hygiene and sanitation training helped us understand that we have to wash our hands and keep our environment clean — behaviours we used to neglect. Because of these changes we are healthier.”

Interwoven with the physical benefits that communities like this experience is an incredible spiritual change. Due to the high Islamic population in the area surrounding Yero’s village, it is difficult for Christians to find fellowship and live out their beliefs. The local church was originally attended by one person. Now, due to the evangelism activities facilitated by GAiN, there are 15 new believers experiencing the abundant life found in Christ!

October: Jesus Film Church Planting Strategy

Having served during the Ebola crisis between 2014 and 2016, JESUS Film Church Planting Strategy (JFCPS) teams in Sierra Leone and Liberia partnered with local denominations and churches to educate people about COVID-19. Together, they supplied communities with buckets and soap and taught basic hygiene and sanitation principles.

When COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in October, JFCPS teams continued to bring the message of God’s love through JESUS film showings, discipling new believers, training new leaders, and planting churches.

While visiting churches, a JFCPS team met Pastor Daniel Kamara. His church, initially planted in November 2017 in partnership with Bethel World Outreach, has continued to grow in 2020 as people come to know Jesus and join their community.

“One of our happiest moments was when the JESUS film was brought here for the purpose of establishing the church. Recently, the film, ‘Walking with Jesus’ was shown to our village. It opened our eyes to Christian living and exposed our negative attitudes. It is a powerful film and we are adjusting our posture toward God and one another.” – Pastor Daniel Kamara

December

Syria entered its 10th year of civil war just as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Restrictions caused difficulty, but GAiN’s local partners faithfully and carefully visited families door-to-door, delivering over 955 Bags of Blessing. At-risk families received the essential food and non-food items they needed to survive, as well as basic cleaning and disinfecting supplies.

When GAiN’s local partners knocked on Ibtisam’s door offering her a Bag of Blessing, they found her in a desperate situation. Divorced by her husband and left to care for her four children alone, she was struggling to survive and often suicidal.

At first, Ibtisam was reluctant to hear about Jesus but she was desperately in need of food. “In the beginning, I didn’t care at all about what they told me,” she said. “But I felt that if Jesus provided part of my needs then it must be important to be with Him. I started to attend a small group and I learned that without Jesus there is no salvation. I accepted Him as my saviour and am now in a discipleship group.”

Today, GAiN has resumed global operations* and is seeing lives and communities physically, spiritually, socially, and economically transformed

* This article does not reflect the full scope of GAiN’s projects, all of which included a COVID-19 response that started in April 2020. For the complete overview, visit globalaid.net.

Gospel Presentations 87,480
Decisions for Christ 8,448
Church Plants 122
New Believers In Discipleship 3,633