Humans are fundamentally relational beings – so a pandemic, forcing us behind closed doors, has the potential to make us even more disconnected than ever.
For the Church though, it’s a great opportunity to help change the fabric of our society. Already I’m seeing, in my role as CEO of Christians Against Poverty (CAP), stunning examples of churches providing for the vulnerable in their communities.
The Grainery in the NSW Hunter Region is one such church. Last week, their young adults pastor wrote:
“As young adults, most of us are the healthiest, more able and mobile in our community at this time. In contrast we have many people in our church who are vulnerable, isolated and need extra support over the coming weeks. With many ministries and events altered or postponed, many of us who normally serve at church, are now available to help in other ways.
The church is encouraging healthy members to get creative in how they reach out an help their community with things such as; creating care packages and kids craft packs and delivering them, cooking meals for the regular attendees of Grainery Care (community outreach program), making check-in phone calls, taking time to visit, play games or lead a fun activity for isolated families and children, setting up technology for older people so they don’t miss out on church over live-stream.”
Of course, all these activities will have to consider healthy and safe precautions. But these are merely logistics to be overcome, the church is pulling out all stops to ensure no one is left isolated.
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Helping the Financially Vulnerable
Sadly, stories are already reaching me of CAP clients now struggling even more through this crisis, with job-losses hitting people who were already weighed down by debt. It’s heartbreaking. However equally, there are stories of how churches are continuing to support them through the CAP Debt Centres and CAP Money courses.
One family, a mum, dad and four kids aged 1 through to 9, have lost their income due to the crisis. They reached out to their CAP case worker who was able to put their debt repayments on hold. The client was full of relief and said, “It is such a blessing that we did reach out when we did. If we didn’t have you now, it would be devastating.”
What a gift it is to be able to provide for people in their season of need.
Practical Ways to Help Your Neighbours
Even as advice and measures keep changing, there are ways people of faith can make a powerful difference. As individuals scattered around towns and cities, together the church can reach many people. Consider doing some of the following things:
- Go the local shops for those who can’t or are scared to.
- Leave a note in your neighbour’s letterbox telling them you are a Christian and offer to pray.
- Donate money and items to foodbanks and charities caring for the vulnerable. By giving instead of hoarding, we demonstrate that it is God who we trust.
- Regularly check in by phone with people who are isolated or struggling.
- Keep giving blood, as the need will increase and donors will decrease.
- Display gratitude to service workers, posties, staff at supermarkets and petrol stations – as they are likely feeling overrun and encounter a lot of stressed-out people.
- Offer to help single parents with childcare needs: drop off a meal, a box of nappies or puzzles for the kids.
- Support a local small business by purchasing a gift card that can be redeemed at a later date (stock up some for Christmas gifts).
- Send an encouraging text message to any of your friends who are medical professionals, and offer to help their partner or family.
When Someone Needs Extra Support
There are many practical ways for people of faith to show love to others in the community. But the reality is many Australians are going to face economic crisis, and will need professional support.
CAP is here to equip the local church with practical tools for helping people through financial crisis and into financial wellbeing. We encourage you to join CAP in giving that life-changing hope Jesus’ light abundantly brings.
“As Christians we are called to serve the vulnerable, to ‘rescue the weak and the needy’.”
Our communities need the hope of Jesus more than ever and now is a time for the church to step out to reach people that are feeling hopeless. As Christians we are called to serve the vulnerable, to “defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed, rescue the weak and the needy” (Psalm 82:2-3). As A. W. Tozer put it, “A frightened world needs a fearless church.” And as Jesus said, the world will know his disciples by their love.
As a church, how will you respond to COVID-19 for your community?
Find Out More
- Find out more about how your church can partner with CAP at org/Get-Involved.
About the writer: Rosie Kendall is the CEO of CAP Australia and is passionate about equipping others to flourish in all that God has created them to be.