WEA Secretary General Bishop Efraim Tendero shares how the Evangelicals in Africa have responded to the pandemic in a selfless way.
Greetings from Manila, the Philippines. I’m Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. Like you, I am praying for God’s mercy on everyone whose lives have been torn apart by this elusive virus.
But I am also encouraged by the powerful ways in which Christians are responding to human need at this time. Spiritual renewal usually happens in times of crisis, and the great self-sacrifice that Christians are showing around the world helps others to see the joy of living for Christ.
In the last two weeks, I featured the work of our national alliances in Argentina and Sri Lanka. Today, we go to Africa. Because of Africa’s limited medical resources, many of us have prayed especially that the pandemic would not sweep across that continent. Some African countries went on lockdown before a single case was identified within their borders.
Africa has reported over 2,000 coronavirus deaths so far, but millions have been severely impacted by the restrictions placed on normal activity.
South Africa has been the hardest-hit nation on the continent. There, the urgency of COVID-19 has brought churches together in a new way to coordinate local action.
At the national level, Christian leaders including the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa met directly with the nation’s president and cabinet members. The churches and the government have partnered on communication and relief issues and on addressing the threat of domestic violence during a lockdown. They also facilitated a national day of prayer. And the churches and government worked together on ways to balance effective church ministry with controlling the risk of infection.
We have also received great reports from Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, which I will plan to feature in the upcoming weeks.
We have an affiliated regional alliance, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa or AEA, that oversees Christian work across the continent. AEA staff responded generously to an urgent situation that arose when Africa International University in Nairobi, which educates students from all over Africa, shut down. Many could not return home. The AEA and its staff collected enough funds to distribute food and other needed items to 140 families who stayed on campus.
Throughout Africa, our national alliances have been active in
- Urging churches to obey the government’s directives;
- Using television and radio to reinforce health messages;
- Coordinating networks of local churches to carry out effective food distribution and other practical assistance; and
- Working with business to ramp up healthcare capacity to serve COVIC-19 patients.
In a time of crisis in the Old Testament when Jews were threatened with extermination, Queen Esther realized that she had been placed in the kingdom “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Christians across Africa have responded to the pandemic in the same selfless way, with great impact.
Lord, I ask that you will continue to support our evangelical alliances in Africa in responding strategically to this virus. May their work be effective and appreciated, and may your power and grace be widely known. And may you too (pointing to camera) be sensitive to how God would use you to reach others at such a time as this. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Have a great week!