Wednesday, May 13, 2020

COVID Response - Motorcycles, Tuk Tuks, Carts and Trucks, House to House Village by Village

Church Planter posting signs and educating on COVID,
She wanted to show a smile, so lowered her mask :)
Through the COVID crisis knowing what to do has been very confusing. Should I stay home/not stay home, wear a mask/not wear a mask,  stock up on food/not stock up, and on and on!  It took some inspiring people to shake me out of my inward gaze and see that God can do great things when we look at what we can do to help others!

I was inspired early on by seeing church planters who are part of our two year school of church planting.  When we called to check on them to see how they were doing they told us about their work going village to village, house to house posting Ministry of Health posters and educating people about COVID. They were using social distancing guidelines, but knew people wouldn't receive good information to protect themselves unless someone went and told them.  I was shocked by their care and love for others and their selflessness to minister in a time of fear and confusion.  They said they would like to distribute hand soap and masks to the poor, but the need was so great. They were already giving out of their own personal resources.
Church member preparing soap for distribution

Our team at the Church Planting Center were moved. They searched the market and found bulk soap and materials to make masks and asked if we could spare $100 to help these church planters.  That was an easy decision.  We packed up the supplies and sent them to the church planters. They made up 120 bottles of hand soap and handmade 450 masks for distribution.  Other Khmer believers in Phnom Penh heard what we were doing and helped us send a second round of supplies.

About this same time I was hearing about and seeing the economic effects the virus was beginning to have on Cambodia. We only had 122 confirmed cases of the virus and there had been no signs of further spreading since the borders had been closed.  However, because of the global lockdowns, hundreds of thousands of people who lived on $100 - $190 per month had lost their jobs in the tourism, garment factory and migrant farm work.  People with no safety net or savings were without income.
Church member cutting and sewing masks in her home

Again, as we talked to our partner churches they told us how they were giving out of their own resource to provide rice and food supplements to those who lost their jobs.  I was again challenged in my own faith. What could we do to help with so many in need?

Homemade masks 
Thats when I got "a call" (FB Messenger) from a friend. The leader of Element Church in the Czech Republic called to check on Tricia and I and the boys and see how things were going in Cambodia.  Element has been a great partner with Cambodian churches and with our family. After talking a while the pastor shared that the Lord had prompted him to call to see if there was a need. I then shared the need I was seeing and the way local churches were responding.  Element wanted to join and help. The "phone" (Zoom really) rang again and a friend from Prepare International called with the same question. How are you, how is Cambodia, how can we help? Then another call (email really) from Samaritan's Purse Australia/New Zealand. How are you, how is Cambodia, how can we help? More messages kept coming through as God prompted people to contact us.

I was quickly reminded of Jesus multiplying the young boys gift of loaves and fishes to feed 5,000. I was seeing God move through the local churches here and multiplying what they were giving through other believers around the world. Thanks to the love and obedience of local believers and believers around the world we have been able to provide food assistance packs to 350 families for the month of May! We've been blessed to see the unity of the Body of Christ here in Cambodia as we've been able to work with multiple denominations working together to meet the need.

Food packets went out in tuk tuks, motorcycle carts, rice tractors and trucks. The food was all bought and distributed in the locality where the need is to make sure it helps keep markets open in those areas and to lessen the numbers of contacts to reduce the chances of the virus spreading.   
At the same time we've been helping local churches to distribute physical food we are also aware of the need for "spiritual food

Bibles going out to churches
We've still been able to provide bibles to churches and have quickly adapted to online courses and meetings.  Our team at the Cambodia Church Planting Center is assisting with producing 4 different discipleship series for use by different denominations and church networks.  We are working daily to assist pastors and church planters develop online resources and approaches in this new season.
Living In Christ - The first in a series of online discipleship lessons
in the Khmer language
Your gift makes the work of the Hester family in Cambodia possible, and we work hard to maximize each dollar entrusted to us.  We are grateful for the generous support of many individuals and organizations that share our commitment to informed, responsible and effective service in Cambodia. To partner with us Click Here.

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