Slowing the spread of the virus, not the gospel
For the last eight months, we’ve become accustomed to the routine of washing our hands several times a day.
The combination of soap, scrubbing, and water produces a preventative measure against the spread of diseases, like the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
For millions of people living in rural Malawi, Indonesia, South Sudanese refugee camps, and Nigeria, hand washing takes much longer than 20 seconds.
Water doesn’t just flow from the tap in the bathroom, it must be collected. Soap can’t be bought at a local Target. And even where clean water and soap are available, knowledge of hygiene and sanitation best practices is limited.
When COVID-19 began to stretch its fingers across the world, Kingdom Workers recognized that God had uniquely prepared us to provide communities around the world with WASH training (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene).
Our reputation as a trusted community partner led many people to listen to us regarding ways to slow the spread.
We quickly shifted several existing programs to focus on WASH with the goal of supplying communities with materials, education, and Christian counsel before borders closed, stay-at-home orders were enacted, and travel became restricted.
Kingdom Workers was prepared to adapt its focus thanks to our previously established clean water initiatives, and our experience with WASH training in the South Sudanese refugee camps. Using this knowledge, we developed customized plans according to the challenges of each region.
Local volunteers from South Sudan help distribute soap and hand washing station materials.
In the refugee camps, health and safety restrictions made a journey into town for supplies more difficult. Our local lead team determined how and where to distribute aid across multiple camps and settlements. Together with local area pastors they distributed 4,840 units of soap, 16 hand washing stations, and have served nearly 3,000 people.
Hand washing stations were set up at busy bus stops and outside of churches. We also worked with Tiyamike Sewing Malawi, a local non-profit that provides skills training to women, to develop educational diagrams about social distancing to safely collect water from boreholes where many people congregate during the day. To date, over 17,000 people have received COVID-19 prevention education.
580 face masks and 274 bars of soap were provided to community members in remote villages where health clinics are miles away and reputable health knowledge is scarce. Picture-based hand washing diagrams were also distributed to churches so that those not able to read can understand how to wash their hands effectively.
Local community members in Indonesia stand next to a hand washing station called a “tippy-tap.”
Volunteers from All Saints Rural Health Services went out into their community to provide 22 congregations with the supplies needed to create hand washing stations. They also gave congregation and community members face masks and hand sanitizer. And In addition to providing supplies, local pastors received COVID-19 prevention education to share with their communities.
Local volunteers distributing hand washing stations to community members in Nigeria.
But the effects of the pandemic weren’t just physical.
The mental and emotional toll of social distancing and isolation also ran rampant. We couldn’t go see friends and family. Events got cancelled and vacations were put on hold. With no end in sight, hopelessness, uncertainty, and worry filled our days.
We shifted the Health and Wellness program completely online. Plans for the program mostly remained on course thanks to the quick shift and Wellness Circles (support groups) that were established. These groups provided spiritual counsel during the toughest moments of the lockdowns and gave practical ways to stay healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Online parent support groups were created to give parents advice for working with their children with disabilities during the school closings. This outlet allowed them to share their thoughts, fears, and concerns and then receive God’s message of hope and peace from the Bible.
We’ve seen what God can do when we place our talents and efforts into his hands.
We’ve seen what God can do when we place our talents and efforts into his hands. Going forward, our programs will continue to meet the new and pressing needs of the communities they serve in conjunction with the work that was already being done.
God has worked through the efforts of our local volunteers, donors, and staff to slow the spread of the virus, but not the gospel.
Donors Steve and Paula share why this work is so important, “God has placed other souls, just as dear to him, all around the world and we are compelled to love and assist them however we can.” While we do whatever it takes to connect communities to Christ, we find strength in knowing that God is stronger than any pandemic, and that He is working through all of us for His glory.
Kimberly Magsig is the Copy and Social Media Coordinator for Kingdom Workers. She enjoys getting to share God's word each day in her work. And learning about cultures unique to her own has helped her understand many different ways in which the gospel can be shared. In her free time she enjoys spending time in nature, trying her hand at cooking new recipes, and having friends over for a game night.