This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Mission Network News, Today marks seven weeks since the World Health Organization began describing COVID-19 as a “global pandemic.” See our full coverage here. Since March 11th, the number of infections worldwide has climbed from 131,135 to 3,006,833. These rates will likely skyrocket as the virus reaches refugee camps. “They are living in close proximity to each other; they can’t self-isolate as we can in Western nations. So, when (COVID-19) arrives, then it can actually just go through the camps very, very quickly,” Peter* from Cry Out Now says. Refugees already suffered from poverty and poor health before the pandemic hit, Peter explains. “It’s trauma upon trauma.” Typically, local churches help refugees in crisis by providing food and medicines in Jesus’ Name. Now, forced inside by lockdown orders, believers are frustrated. “We feel helpless,” they tell Peter. However, the Gospel workers found a different way to support vulnerable refugees. “During this lockdown, we’re taking five hours a day, every day, six days a week to pray for Syria and pray for refugees.” Believers use Zoom to organize their prayer efforts, Peter adds.
According to Mission Network News, Orphanages suffer as the government of Belarus fails to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak. Belarus in particular has not prepared well for the coronavirus. Its president has suggested people fight the virus by eating garlic, among other things. The country has not banned large public gatherings, and its soccer league remains one of the few still in operation around the world. And the most vulnerable will suffer as a result. Eric Mock of Slavic Gospel Association says, “We received an email talking about a particular orphanage in Belarus, where the orphanage was closed due to the quarantine. [Now] 70% of the kids are from broken homes, where 30% are true orphans. A lot of these kids [have been] sent back to their broken homes, which is tragic.” SGA ministers to orphans in the former Soviet Union through its Orphans Reborn program. SGA wants to get ahead of the curve and prepare people to help with the coming hardship in Belarus.
According to Mission Network News, Bruce Allen from Forgotten Missionaries International explains that there are very few testing sites in Bangladesh ready to test for cases of COVID-19. He says, “The members of our leadership team… are saying that the actual number of infection is most likely significantly higher.” Yet there are still sparks of hope for Bangladesh. One pastor, Rajib, and his church are fighting the pandemic by gathering essential supplies for those in need. Allen explains that Rajib’s church wanted to show their community sacrificial love. Despite not having many resources to share in rural Bangladesh, they dedicated themselves to serving their community. “They were able to acquire things like soap and sanitizers and disinfectants and make-up gift packs for the different homes in their communities,” Allen says. Rajib includes illustrated instructions in these gift packs to show how to use these supplies. Handing out gift packs gives Rajib and his church a chance to talk to people. “They can also be caring for spiritual needs at the same time [as physical needs] and praying with people,” Allen says.
According to Mission Network News, Hindus and Christians have been passed over for food distributions in Pakistan, but this stems from a cultural attitude of religious discrimination. Daniel* from Operation Mobilization says Pakistan has been locked down since the middle of March These measures have slowed the virus. However, Christians, most of whom work low-income jobs, are suffering as a result of the lockdown. Daniel confirms reports saying some Muslims have not been distributing food to Hindus or Christians. This negligence has already seen tragic results. Many Christians are even denied jobs because of their religion. However, the church has stepped up to meet the needs of its own people. Daniel says, “There are many Christian organizations, and a [few] churches as well, who are coming forward and supporting Christians in Pakistan, and even extending help to the Muslims and Hindus.” Daniel says Operation Mobilization has primarily responded by raising awareness of the virus among illiterate people. They also work over digital media to encourage these people and build a vibrant community filled with the love of Jesus Christ.
According to Christian Post, China’s communist government has continued to monitor and persecute Sichuan province’s Early Rain Covenant Church, demanding church members cease all online worship services. Over two years after shuttering the 5,000-member church, breaking down the doors of church members’ and leaders’ homes and arresting more than 100 people, police have continued to harass ERCC members, according to a new report from China Aid. A Christian, who did not reveal her name, told the persecution watchdog that over the weekend, police brought in ERCC members in charge of church activities and online services and demanded that they stop all activities. Because police only summoned Christians during the church’s online services, the source who informed China Aid believes police are still monitoring the church.
According to Charisma News, Houston-based Somebody Cares is living up to its name, serving people in need across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges of ministering in a time of social distancing, Somebody Cares Vice President Jodie Chiricosta says the organization, which is led by Doug Stringer, is adapting well in the areas the ministry serves. Operating a food pantry during the time of the coronavirus pandemic has become much more demanding. Not only is there a greater need for staple and nonperishable items with people increasingly out of work, but volunteers and staff must follow additional health practices imposed to combat COVID-19. Personal protective equipment, known as PPE, is in short supply across the country. But God supplied N95 facial masks in advance of the pandemic to Somebody Cares. “Because we’re a disaster relief organization, we have been given N95 masks in the past to help with delivery, and we distribute these during times when there’s wildfire smoke in the air,” she says. “We had almost 100,000 N95 masks in storage, which God had providentially given us for other disasters.” Somebody Cares distributed the masks to health care systems, nursing homes, clinics and underserved neighborhoods. They also distributed some to first responders and front-line community service workers across the U.S.
According to Charisma News, Illinois will allow small, safe worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a modified extension of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order that took effect Friday. A small evangelical church in northern Illinois, which filed a federal lawsuit, is taking credit for the change that permits people “to engage in the free exercise of religion”. Also Friday, a Republican state representative who won a temporary restraining order barring Pritzker’s stay-at-home decree, extended through May 30, has asked a state appellate court to withdraw the order so that he may file a new complaint using additional information. Pritzker issued his initial order on March 21 as COVID-19 cases in Illinois were swelling. It was extended once after April 8 and last week, through May 30. But the latest version allows nonessential businesses to take phone and online orders, opens state parks and allows some delayed elective surgeries.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless you.