HARVEST RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Global Field Coordinator
In March, the World Health Organization declared the covid-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders were in effect in all the 27 countries where Harvest has representatives. With the same speed that we saw the spread of the infection, we saw the demand for our services increase exponentially. The pandemic did not change our mission, but it changed how we operate. How could we develop the kind of church leadership that would be able to deal with such a fast increase of demand, show good stewardship of limited resources, and still yield results?
As we sought the answer to this question, we assessed the Samaritan Strategy Program (SamS), our operational arm, which focus on the discipleship of church leaders to demonstrate and proclaim Christ’s love in their communities using local resources. As it was designed, the SamS Program required face-to-face training and coaching sessions. Then a second question came to mind. Would we stop our activities or move forward in obedient response to our calling, even with the global crisis? Here the Lord refreshed the meaning of His Word, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1.9)
The answer to this question came from the courageous and innovative Harvest global team who immediately created a schedule with 95 sessions in 12 languages held by telephone or internet, enabling them to continue to network, encourage, stay in touch, train, and coach church leaders. One month later, we received a new schedule with 202 sessions, showing a 112% increase of the workload and, for God’s glory, positive results.
We also heard stories of disciplines of love and seed projects—the small short-term ministry activities, done by believers, with local resources, to demonstrate God’s love to those outside the church—done by dozens of churches connected with the Harvest team during the pandemic.
In Rwanda, using a phone app, 38 leaders from 9 churches were encouraged to demonstrate God’s love to their communities. They taught people about the importance and how properly wash their hands, prayed with, shared messages of encouragement, and distributed food to 425 families, with the contribution of over 660 local people.
In Brazil, since the stay-at-home order started, the national team has done one video call per day—more than 45 sessions sharing knowledge and practice on how to use internet tools for training. They also distributed food for 75 families, helped sick people with referrals, helped two families in critical need—one evicted and one bereaved, made and distributed 97 facial masks with instructions of use and Bible verses, and read Scriptures, prayed, and shared messages on several livestreams.
From the paralysis of fear to bold service, the Harvest global team has experienced the answer to a prayer written by one of its advisers, “By Your divine grace, place in Your servants renewed strength and commitment to serve and display Your loving agenda to our broken world.” So, we continue to serve during the pandemic in 27 countries, using phone and online resources to connect with church leaders, and helping local churches in relief efforts to provide care, food, medicines, and shelter for orphans and needy families.
We invite you to prayerfully consider your own involvement to meet these needs. You can give by check payable to “Harvest” and mailed to P. O. Box 2670 – Phoenix, AZ, or by credit card going to www.harvestfoundation.org > donate. Add a note to the check or write on the comment box online: “COVID-19 projects”.
Thank you for your participation!