Imagine that you are a 30-year-old woman living in Nigeria. You’re married to a pastor and you’re pregnant with your third child. You kiss your husband goodbye to go and get a check-up at the clinic; it’s going to take you a few days to get there.
But while you’re gone, your husband is shot dead by Fulani herdsmen. You arrive home just in time for the funeral and see your husband’s body lying in the grave which has already been dug for him. You have a chance to hug him and to whisper a prayer before the coffin arrives.
A few weeks later COVID-19 strikes and Nigeria is put into lockdown. You can’t go out to earn money to buy food for your two children and you start to ration your supplies. You turn to your in-laws for help but they turn their back on you because, with your husband gone, they no longer want to associate with you. Far from helping you, they actually confiscate much of your property. You’re encouraged to hear that the government is going to provide some food aid. Good news at last! But when you get to the distribution centre, you’re turned away empty handed because you’re a Christian.
This is the true story of a woman called Rose that was shared by Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, during the launch webinar for the Global Rapid Response Campaign. The campaign is an initiative run by Stewardship – the UK’s leading Christian philanthropy charity – to raise awareness of the effect of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable people.
With schools and universities starting back in the UK and more work places opening, life here might be returning to a more familiar rhythm, but across the world there are still people searching for vital supplies to protect their family from COVID-19, with limited reliable advice from sources they respect and trust.
If you live in a country where you can’t have faith in the leadership, who do you trust? If you don’t have access to clean water, let alone soap, how can you protect yourself? Whilst the West has hopes of containing the virus via ‘track and trace’ methods and local lockdowns, in many other nations the pandemic is only just starting to claim lives in large numbers.
And yet the media is largely silent on this unfolding disaster.
When the UK went into lockdown, Stewardship stepped into action, raising almost £5 million and distributing it to Christian charities and churches serving those most affected nationally, in just under 100 days. The funds benefitted many causes, including caring for deprived children, giving mental health support for young people, resources to comfort the bereaved and women’s refuges for those affected by domestic abuse.
Now Stewardship is focusing on what can be done beyond the UK and has produced five webinars featuring experts from partner organisations such as A21, Open Doors, Tearfund and World Vision. Stewart McCulloch, Stewardship’s CEO explained: ‘In each webinar, Christians in the UK will be given inside knowledge as to how the pandemic has changed the working situation for these key charities, hear of the biggest challenges, the greatest needs and prayer requests, and learn how through their generous giving, individual lives, families and communities can be transformed and saved.’
Just after the birth of her third daughter, Rose was given a food package by one of Open Doors’ partners and her hope and faith were strengthened. With the Global Rapid Response Campaign, Stewardship hopes to show the huge impact that Christians can make on the world by giving generously.
Visit www.stewardship.org.uk/globalresponse to find out more about the Global Rapid Response Campaign