As “sheltering in place” has become the norm for us here in the United States, today I want to share with you the bigger picture of how this virus is affecting our mission partners around the world, and how the Holy Spirit is working through your mission offerings to LHF to shine the Light of the Gospel into what are very dark days for some.
I want to share with you an email our office received from Rev. Peter Anibati Abia, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Sudan/Sudan. He writes:
The Coronavirus pandemic has added another misery to the lives of South Sudanese who for decades have been struggling just for survival. Due to the lockdown, there are already food shortages in town, and prices have gone higher since most food items are imported from the neighboring countries. The whole nation is in big trouble right now because many of our people live “from hand to mouth” which means today’s earnings are tomorrow’s food. NO WORK. NO FOOD. NO LIFE. That is it! Many are starving right now!
Not only that, it is very challenging for the church to reach out and comfort her members with the message of the Gospel because the entire country is locked down and yet it has no infrastructure. There is no electricity, few have access to internet and as such the possibility of live streaming or video clips on YouTube cannot help the majority of our people who live in the villages. Thanks be to God that in every situation there is always a way out no matter how small or narrow it might be! Although we are not able at this time to hold normal Sunday services at our churches or visit our members in the refugee camps as we normally do, thanks be to God that the people are receiving comfort and healing through the books printed by Lutheran Heritage Foundation!
Here there is not just a shortage of food, but also a shortage of books, especially at this time of the pandemic. We are running out of Catechisms, booklets like Jesus Never Fails, Trusting in His Love, and the newly published book: A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories in Zande. At this time when all the school kids are at home, we have received more requests for this new publication than the copies we printed, because it is the first of its kind in our part of the world! As the people maintain social distance and isolate themselves during this Covid 19, LHF books are bringing them closer to God. Praise be to God!
And so there you have the bigger picture: the whole reason for our mission here at the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, summed up in one short email.
With God’s blessing, LHF books go where missionaries cannot. The life-giving, encouraging, sustaining Word of God contained in books like the catechism and children’s Bible storybooks is lasting – they preach and teach for generations to come, calling untold numbers to come and see the risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your mission offerings. Without them, LHF could not translate. We could not print. And during this time of the Corona virus, your gifts are more important than ever, because as the Bishop’s email illustrates, the needs are greater than ever as people cry out for relief.
And most especially, we thank you for your prayers. Please keep the people of South Sudan and all around the world who are grappling with the virus and the effects of social isolation in prayer, that God would provide food for body and food for the soul.