Discipleship at a Distance
In the Bandarban Hills Churches of Christ in south-east Bangladesh, Christian community and discipleship has often been done at a distance – even before restrictions imposed by the coronavirus crisis. Made up of 16 churches in small hillside villages, the church has around 700 members. Some meet in bamboo-and-timber church buildings and others in members’ homes. Stretches of 15 to 20 kilometres of rugged terrain separate one church community from the next and, with no transportation, if you want to visit another village you must walk. Vana Bawm, General Secretary of the Bandarban Hills Churches of Christ, planted these 16 growing churches by walking from village to village sharing the gospel and raising up local leadership so the churches could continue to grow without his physical presence. Vana said, “I want to empower leaders and teach faithfulness so they can pass the same lesson to others. I train my leaders to be stronger in my absence than what I am today.” Empowering others to lead where they are, means that evangelism and discipleship can flourish in each village despite the challenges of distance.
Vana Bawm (centre) with one of the local churches he oversees in South-East Bangladesh
Working Among the Aceh People
The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped Karen from sharing the love of Jesus with Indigenous tribes and Muslims in Indonesia. Karen teaches elementary school in the morning while also assisting three children learning to use computers. Karen builds friendships with her neighbours that haven’t heard about the Good News. Karen says of her ministry, “COVID-19 could not stop us to do missions. Perhaps we should change the way to do it, but don’t get lost in that. Whenever we keep stepping forward, we will be getting closer to the goal. His love for the people never ends.” – Hery Susanto, Academic Dean of Christian Church Theological School of Indonesia.
Hery Susanto, Academic Dean of Christian Church Theological School of Indonesia
Generosity in Fiji
During the beginning of COVID-19 in Fiji, Pastor Munesh Goudar told us how the community at Sigatoka had reverted to a barter system in order to look after each other. Munesh said, “Things changed very much. People looked for other ways to sort things out. Many years ago, when there was not much value for money, people were doing a barter system (exchanging things for what they needed). People have begun to do that again, even if they do not have anything to give out – they would clean gardens for rice. It seems even without jobs there is a way out.” Pastor Raj Deo, from Vuci Road, also reported, “We were able to help some families with groceries who were really in need and were facing difficulties.”
Pastor Raj and Nirmala Deo (standing) help community members with groceries
God is Able
Kids in Zimbabwe at Khayelihle Children’s Village (KCV) are following the WHO guidelines for staying safe. All the children at the village are in good health. Vimbai Vuma, the KCV Director, reports that the children enjoyed staying at home and adapted well to the lockdown. Children are encouraged to stay within their family units and to wash and sanitise their hands as often as they can. They take turns to use the library under strict supervision of a caregiver, who makes sure that social distancing is maintained. The KCV farm has also provided milk, vegetables and some fruit for the children. Mrs Vuma said, “The virus has not stopped us from smiling and enjoying life, because we believe that there is a God who is able.”
School lessons in the library at KCV