International (MNN) — It’s no secret that nearly every corner of the world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Bruce Smith of Wycliffe Associates took to social media to share personal accounts from field partners:
“Heart. Broken. Just received a letter from a close friend and partner in Bible translation, ‘… thrown into abject poverty, evident in our inability to pay staff salaries for three months now since the emergence of the Coronavirus. We are not part of palliatives from the government or individuals; we are a forgotten group, at the mercy of fate.’”
Little did he know that it was just the start of a long day of similar messages.
“Bible translators are struggling to provide for their families.”
“Two of our mother-tongue translators are starving.”
“We are thrown into abject poverty.”
“We have been unable to pay salaries for 3 months since the emergence of the Coronavirus.”
“We are not receiving help from the government or individuals. We are a forgotten group, at the mercy of fate.”
“The situation is so bad that it leaves no room for exaggeration.”
Although Smith says he “intellectually knew this was coming because many of the partners we work with around the world live on the edge of poverty in normal times,” the emotional impact was larger than he expected. Many on-the-ground partners are already members of vulnerable, impoverished groups, so the financial implications of the pandemic hit hard.
The problem is threefold. First, many on-the-ground partners don’t have jobs to pay for food and other basic necessities. Quarantine means everyone is sent home, and unfortunately, some businesses and workers are not equipped to continue work while at home.
Second, in some countries, no one is allowed to travel by road until quarantine lifts. That means people need to rely on what they can produce within their own village for food and supplies. But even if locals have their own garden, they rarely have access to other essentials such as beef or rice.
Third, people all over the world are being more cautious with their money. That means many ministries are reporting that support is down, making it doubly challenging to respond to this crisis.
Fortunately, Wycliffe Associates has an emergency fund. However, their organization typically focuses on translation, not relief efforts, making it more challenging to meet their partners in this difficult time.
“We’ve got people with whom we’ve prayed and eaten and worked and cried, and these people are hurting right now,” Smith says. “So we’re gathering resources and rallying what we can in order to respond to them.”
Want to be part of the solution? Every prayer or financial contribution is a step toward recovery.
“Prayer may seem like too little, but it’s certainly a great starting place,” Smith says. “Stewardship may also seem like too little, it may seem like a drop in the bucket. But being responsive and being engaged at a time when the needs are arising is a statement of fidelity and care and love for our fellow Christians as well as the communities that they’re trying to reach with the truth of God’s Word at the same time.”
Header photo courtesy of Unsplash.