Strategic Impact Africa - COVID-19 The Situation
SI AFRICA - UPDATE
I just hung up from the weekly WhatsApp conference call I have with Sainet Phiri, Israel Wandamba, and Stephen Aputara - my Regional Directors in Sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa. The virus is starting to take root in Africa. We are grateful that we currently have NO reported cases of the Coronavirus among the SI Family in Africa. Due to the cultural practices of close proximity, the lax hygiene practices, and lack of practical resources, I continue to have strong concerns about how the virus will impact the beloved continent of Africa. Here are a few brief updates of the situation there and what we are encouraging our people to do. We would certainly covet your prayers - not only for protection, but for the advancement of the gospel in wise, yet powerful ways.
Ghana is the hardest hit of all of West Africa so far, with the most active cases. The government there has begun to lock down specific communities… people can only conduct essential business - and for some reason that does NOT include food. The government is supposed to be bringing food to the people in need in these closed communities, but it is very inefficient so far. As most people in Africa buy food for only a day or 2 and then go to market again. In northern Ghana, this is the common practice of about 75% of the households. The restrictions are causing great suffering. Please pray. They are closing more and more… northern Ghana is cut off from its supply lines of Accra (locked down) and Burkina Faso (locked down) for meat, general supplies, and most vegetables. Additionally many, many products come from Europe… which is having its own crisis at this time.
Burkina Faso is completely shut down. Additionally, Victor Ouedraogo has been sick in his home for over a week (NOT the Coronavirus). Please pray for his speedy recovery. Illness is common, yet extremely challenging at any time in Africa, but especially during these strange days. Many folks have fled Burkina Faso into northern Ghana to escape the jihadist attacks which were common over the past year... and then to escape the potential threat of the virus. Now, with the borders fully closed and Burkina Faso locked down, those people are trapped in Ghana with no way to return home.
The nations of Sub-Saharan Africa have responded to the potential crisis with various approaches.
Lesotho has followed the steps South Africa has taken and now has daily restrictions on when its people may shop. At this time, people are called to stay at home unless they have essential needs or are helping others with those essential needs. They may shop for those items from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Outside of these times, people may only be out with a written permit. The military and police are patrolling to enforce these measures, and there have been several reports of abuse of power with people actually being beaten by officials when caught on the streets without a permit.
Last week, Tanzania had almost no restrictions placed on its population. They were taking the temperatures of people who were coming into the country at the border crossings. Of course, if you know much about Africa at all, you know that there are many, many ways to cross borders with no official crossing ever having taken place. Now, Tanzania has ramped things up more. Their schools were already on break, so the government has extended that break indefinitely. It has also called for no groups to meet larger than 10. Church small groups are continuing to meet, but practicing social distancing in their gatherings. The guidelines again are to not go out unless you are procuring or distributing items for essential needs.
Zambia seemed to respond quicker than other nations of Sub-Sahara. It began to restrict the size of gatherings several weeks ago, and has slowly increased guidelines over the past few days. This past week, the government was still allowing churches to meet, but many church leaders spoke and encouraged the government to stop churches from meeting and only allow live-streaming or video sermons to be distributed by churches who had that capability. The Zambian government placed those requested restrictions and has also made the oh-so-common stay at home orders with which we are all familiar.
How has SI Africa responded and directed our folks in the midst of this world pandemic? With Africa being a few weeks behind many other nations of the world, we have the privilege of helping them prepare for what is to come. Of course, we are encouraging frequent hand washing WITH SOAP and social distancing as well as the postponement of all SI trainings and gatherings across the continent. Additionally, I have recorded brief weekly videos (today's is shown below) to encourage our brothers (as I encourage you) to use this time to spread the gospel in creative ways.
I will be sending funds today to purchase in bulk and stockpile soap, rice, beans, and other essential supplies in order to distribute these items to those in need in the various locations where we are most established. The funds will go to the nations listed above: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Zambia. Here is what I have advised - "Please spread these funds between you and your team so you can purchase basic essential needs such as those little soaps found in guest houses, rice, beans, pop, etc. During the allowable hours, go to your neighbors (especially the lost and especially those who are in need). Drop off a bar of soap (by the way ANY soap kills the virus... it doesn't have to be Detol or Protex) and/or a small package of food. Knock on the door and the MOVE BACK 2 meters. When they answer, say something like: "God loves you and so do I. I hope this small item helps you and your family during this time of crisis and fear. I would be happy to share some good news with you as well..." then share the invitation to the celebratory feast God invites us to with Him and the only hope of eternal life and true security in the gospel of Jesus Christ! These supplies are to be used to help those in need in our communities (you will be supplying relief supplies... which should gain you approval for being out). That should open some doors and hearts to the gospel as well."
We both know there are fewer resources in Africa, and during a crisis like the one coming to our brothers and sisters, the situation will be exacerbated further. The funds I send this afternoon are coming from our usual field-ministry operations. That means, they were initially intended to train new leaders to multiply churches. In light of the situation and opportunity, I have redirected them to provide relief and to help us do our part to fulfill Romans 8:28 - "work all things together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called unto His purpose." - in advancing the gospel.
I understand that many people in our own nation have entered into financial crisis - so I encourage you to take the same type of actions in your own communities! If you are able and would like to join us financially in this effort on the African continent, you may do so by clicking on this link:
As I told my men, "This should go a long ways in spreading the gospel! But as we know, this will only be successful if we are moving with God. Please join me in DAILY prayer that many, many would owe their eternities with God to the sweeping spread of the coronavirus. May the Lord receive glory and may many souls be reconciled to God in this time of crisis."
Please join us in prayer that the Lord would use this effort in ways we have not even thought of!
May God continue to bless you and others through you!
THANK YOU for YOUR partnership!
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