“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2, New International Version)
This time of COVID-19 is a time of lament. We lament the growing number of people who have died from COVID-19 and the deep economic uncertainty facing millions who have lost their livelihoods.
We especially lament how the health and economic impacts related to COVID-19 disproportionately impact marginalized and oppressed communities in the U.S. and the world over, laying bare the disparities that existed long before the pandemic.
Millions of refugees, migrants and prisoners around the world are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, often living in crowded conditions without clean water and adequate sanitation and at risk of violence. People already living in poverty face rising hunger as economies collapse and jobs disappear. Because of institutional racism here in the U.S., communities of color, including Indigenous communities, bear the disproportionate brunt of COVID-19. People of color contract and die of COVID-19 at higher rates than do others, are less likely to have access to health care, are more likely to be low-wage workers exposed through their labor to the coronavirus and face increased threats of racially motivated violence.
Jesus calls his disciples to pray, give and speak boldly for justice. Responding to this call, we urge churches and individuals in the U.S. to join MCC in ongoing, faithful action in the face of COVID-19. As the pandemic spreads from being predominantly in the global north to the global south, we issue an urgent call to ensure that all lives are valued equally and that resources are distributed equitably to all who are in need.
Pray: Let us pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), asking God for healing for those who are ill, comfort for those who mourn, and courage for the church to share God’s love and to act for justice for and with those who are most marginalized.
Give: The Apostle Paul writes of how, “in the midst of a very severe trial,” the church in Macedonia responded with “rich generosity,” giving “as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3, New International Version (NIV)). Anabaptist churches in the U.S. and in countries such as Haiti, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Nepal and Indonesia have “not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9, NIV). Thanks to generous contributions, MCC is able to accompany churches and other partners around the globe in providing emergency assistance, including water, sanitation and hygiene resources and food aid, to vulnerable communities facing COVID-19. Donate here to join MCC in responding to the needs of vulnerable communities in the U.S. and around the world.
Advocate: Jesus came to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and “to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18, NIV). Join the MCC U.S. Washington Office in calling for the compassionate release of prisoners, a halt to deportations and increased support for global efforts to address COVID-19.
--J Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, and Alain Epp Weaver, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Ruth Keidel Clemens, Jesus Cruz, Dina Gonzalez-Piña and Ann Graber Hershberger
Top photo: Candles at the Syrian Orthodox Church in Hama, Syria. The Syrian Orthodox Church distributes monthly MCC food packages coordinated by Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD). MCC photo/Emily Loewen