Harvest Bridge’s ministry is to come alongside local South Asian believers who are reaching their own communities for Christ; we join with men and women who have done much with little, equipping them to do even more to share the Gospel in word and deed. This approach has been crucial in responding to COVID-19.
We support local believers who are experienced in disaster relief, who understand their local contexts, and who, characteristically, sprang into action to help their communities cope with COVID-19 even before any external funding came. With your support, thousands of families and individuals have received life-saving food and hygiene supplies since March.
As I wrote to those of you who generously gave to our successful Summer Giving Match, we are in a historic time of revival. Believers in South Asia have never seen such great physical need, nor a greater openness to the Gospel.
Many countries in South Asia greatly downplayed the virus, saying that their religion would protect them – Islam in Bangladesh, Buddhism in Myanmar, Hinduism in India, and so on. When lockdowns were enforced, those same governments often did very little to practically help their citizens. As people’s trust in their religion and government erodes in the midst of immense suffering, they are searching for truth – truth that can only be found in the real and practical love of Jesus Christ.
As our Bangladesh country director, Pastor Darpan*, reflected recently,
“We believe that within this high risk of Covid-19 which is a challenging period to human life, where everything is collapsing – Jesus, He has kept the door open where people are thirsty for His Salvation and peace.”
Bihar, the poorest state in India, has a population of 124 million – roughly equal to the combined populations of the UK and Italy. The state is experiencing devastating floods in the midst of COVID-19 and the economic fallout of lockdown.
One of our lead pastors there, Suraj*, shares about two of the food distributions he and his team have carried out with your support over the past several months:
“First of all, I wholeheartedly thank you for opening doors for the flood survivors of North Bihar, to provide relief in the form of dry food ration packets and sanitizing items during this calamity. There has been a great spiritual impact of the program on the benefitting families and communities. From the beginning we were giving the importance on spiritual impact, and also on smooth distributions to the neediest people. We selected areas where we already had prayer cells and some Christian believers to help in the execution and follow-up. We prayed for the program and appointed Christian volunteers.
In July, with your support, 250 families (1,000 people) were helped. The distribution took place in different communities instead of in just one big community, which helped us to reach the selected neediest people specifically. The beneficiaries were migrant workers, the elderly, widows, farmers, and the unemployed. People from all faiths like Hindu, Muslim, and Christian were helped.
Then on September 10th, with given funds of $3,000, 100 large food packets were prepared and transported by a truck 155 miles away from Patna (Bihar’s capital) to flood survivors and the neediest people in a village. This has been a great relief to the benefitting families. There were about ten handicapped people among the beneficiaries, and most everyone had weak bodies and saddened faces.
These rations in such a flood and pandemic situation were a great relief and brought smiles to the families.
At one colony, one family who received a food packet was overwhelmed by the gift and the love shared. They started watching our online services and calling me on video to get counselling. I shared the Gospel and prayed for them on the video calls. I have met the man, Prem*, only once on the day of distribution for five minutes, and the rest of the family only by phone. But this had a great impact, and the whole family of four people have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and have thrown the idols from their house. Praise God!
There is a married lady with four daughters and one son who is from a Hindu background. They were a happy family with her husband. But sometime back, unfortunately, her husband died and her cruel in-laws threw all of them out of the house. She was not educated enough to get a job. Meanwhile, this virus and lockdown came, mounting their problems. They were struggling in their life when they got a gift of food packets. It brought a great relief and some happiness among their sufferings.
An old man from a Hindu background was working as a gardener in another city, but because of the lockdown he lost his job and returned back here with his family to his hometown. This family and children were going hungry, as they had no work and no money. They were overwhelmed with thankfulness as our team showed them the love of God and a warm welcome.
In another community after the distributions, a few people stayed back because they heard that I am a pastor, and they asked me to pray for them. So I prayed for six people there and introduced our online services, the local prayer cell, and leaders for follow-up meetings.
Pray for water baptism taking place this month of September. Some of our online viewers are from a Hindu higher caste, have believed in the Lord, and are going to take baptism, leaving idolatry and witchcraft. I have not met them physically, but online only.
Pray for our church believers, that they may stand strong in their faith during this crisis of COVID-19, job loss, unemployment, etc. There is great need of more such relief projects in Bihar, as the population of flood survivors and needy people is huge. People are facing financial crises due to loss of work and income during this dual crisis of floods and COVID.
A bouquet of thanks and heartiest appreciation for this great support and prayers towards Bihar flood relief. This was indeed a great help and relief during this crisis time. Everybody, including local leaders of the villages, volunteers, and beneficiaries have expressed their immense gratitude.”
Pastor Suraj’s stories represent thousands of other families and individuals throughout our network in South Asia. With your support, we continue to join these local leaders sharing the Gospel in word and deed in this life-altering time.
Thank you for continuing to join in God’s work in South Asia. Your partnership is making an immediate and eternal impact.
Pastor Suraj, with Kate Therese,
*Names changed for safety