Pastor Markus lifted his cell phone to his ear one more time. He had been dialing all day when in reality, he would much rather have been having face-to-face meetings in the home of his church members. Sitting in his small home in rural Katihar, Bihar, in Northern India, his weariness at the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming. He misses the people of his church. He misses the fellowship, the worship, sharing the Word every week. Most of all, he misses the time spent with people praying and counseling them through some of life’s hardest trials and challenges.
Grace Church has been supporting our Indian pastor, Pastor Markus, and the Good Shepherd Church at Katihar, Bihar, in Northern India for several years. We have broken ground on the construction of their new church building and pastor’s training center, and most recently have funded their local COVID relief efforts. Grace has provided emergency food relief, medical care, education on hand washing and physical distancing, and much needed emotional and spiritual counseling to people who are suffering both physically and economically.
The pandemic has changed life for the people of Katihar, most of whom come from poor, marginalized and outcast backgrounds. They are daily wage earners who don’t eat if they don’t work. Work has been impossible to find during COVID. The jobs simply aren’t there because of both nationwide and statewide lockdowns which have prohibited the movement of everyone. There are barricades set up at the entrance of every village, banning outsiders from entering and keeping local residents “safely” inside. People have been confined to their small village homes with no access to work or food for months and months. The situation is dire.
However, despite the frailty of the situation, the partnership between Grace Church and the Good Shepherd Church of India is making a positive difference. The Good Shepherd Health worker in Katihar has visited almost all the residents in the area personally (hundreds of them!) to offer practical advice and spiritual counseling. She has surveyed the physical needs of the most destitute and done her best to get them what they need. Pastor Markus, in his role as spiritual caretaker of the village, has spent hours on the phone with his church members praying for them and listening to them weep in desperation during this unprecedented time. People’s lives are being changed because of the work of Good Shepherd. Community transformation continues even during a time that is seemingly filled with despair.
Across the nation of India, the Good Shepherd Church of India is making a huge impact. They have reached nearly 400,000 people with much-needed medical care, health and hygiene education, food supplies and distance learning for primary and secondary students. In the month of August 2020, they crossed the 1 million meals served mark to people with no access to food. We praise God, too, that of Good Shepherd’s 4,000 Indian national workers who are placed all throughout the country, only 3 have contracted COVID-19 and have made a full recovery. God’s hand is upon this national church movement and He is blessing their efforts to be the hands and feet of Jesus during this time of crisis.
Grace Church is so pleased to be able to partner with Good Shepherd in the nation of India. Please pray for healing and physical relief, as well as for wisdom for Good Shepherd’s leaders as they pivot their ministries to take on the new normal of a future post-COVID.