Responding to coronavirus around the Climbing For Christ world
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Thursday, July 9
COVID-19 relief delivered to Humla in Nepal’s remote northwest corner. (Photo provided by Megh Gurung)
Many of the villagers in Nepal’s Mid-West district of Rolpa travel to Kathmandu Valley to work for a few months in the brick factories. But this year has been different due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in that Himalayan nation. “They have really suffered because they did not get the chance to work in the brick factory,” said Megh Gurung, our Kingdom worker in Nepal.
Some spent three months in Kathmandu locked down and without a job. When they returned home – with no money – they had to self-isolate and quarantine. “They have had much trouble this year,” Megh said.
Climbing For Christ tried to ease some of this suffering by delivering food to 127 families in need in Rolpa, where we have helped local believers build two churches. Rice, peas, oil, and salt also was delivered to 67 families in Humla, where C4C has been used to build up the body of believers from a handful to hundreds. In all, $3,000 USD in COVID-19 relief was provided to care for these families in Rolpa and Humla.
“Everyone is happy they get food in Humla,” Megh said. The rice and peas (lentils) will be used to make dal bhat, the meal that is a daily staple in Nepal.
A happy widow in Malawi. (Photos by Damson Samson)
July 6 was Independence Day in Malawi, but because of the coronavirus there was little to celebrate. Except among 300 widows who received food to eat and five village caregivers who received bicycles to make their rounds.
“There was great joy – unspeakable joy flowed,” said Damson Samson, our Malawi-based Kingdom worker to East Africa. “They had nothing in their homes to eat. As the day of celebration, this gift has really come in time.”
It was delivered in God’s time. Food items such as maize flour (used to make their staple meal of nsima), soybeans, fish, cooking oil, and salt – along with soap – were distributed thanks to $1,400 USD in COVID-19 relief from Climbing For Christ.
One widow from Namata village “thanked God for the support,” Damson reported. “She has four grandchildren who are orphans. She said this support will really help to take care of the grandchildren at home as they had nothing in the house.”
Bicycles and food lined up for distribution, above. Below, Mary Kamtiki praises God for the gift of a bike to use in service to Him.
Bicycles – valued at $750 USD but worth much more – also were provided to those who travel great distances on foot to help their neighbors. Mary Kamtiki from Namata “could not express herself on how much this blessing has touched her. Being of (older) age, it was very challenging to walk long distances to help other widows despite her being a widow herself.”
Gaston Louis Jean of C4C’s New Generation visits an older man in Kamiel. (Photo by C4CNG)
Three members of C4C’s New Generation (C4CNG Haiti) visited the villages of Malasi and Kamiel to seek out widows and older adults in need of assistance during the pandemic. They identified many to receive a food delivery of rice, spaghetti, and oil. Other COVID-19 relief is being provided in Haitian communities in Jimani and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as Climbing For Christ has sent $2,000 USD to those in need and $500 to help C4CNG members.
Friday, June 19
A hungry father and daughter receiving from Save Pakistan. (Photo by Save Pakistan)
The 13-year-old girl saw people carrying food from a home where brother Haseeb Masih and others were distributing COVID-19 relief. She approached Haseeb and asked if she could have some.
“But we deny here,” Haseeb said, “because she was only 13 and a food pack is for the family.”
The girl left and five minutes later she returned with her father – and tears in her eyes.
“The father of the girl was a painter,” Haseeb said, retelling their story. “Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, he did not get any work so he could not give food to their family.
“The mother of the girl works in a Muslim house. Due to COVID-19, the owner of the house asked her to leave their house and not come again for work because the virus could attack their family. Their jobs left and there is nothing to earn. They have four children and they are suffering in great poverty.
“(The 13-year-old) got so sick due to the hunger even she cannot walk. So, I encouraged them to keep believing in God and keep praying. (Haseeb told them) ‘He will bless and provide for you as He did right now.’”
With that, Haseeb gave them a food pack, which would feed them for one week.
Haseeb and his Save Pakistan ministry delivered food packs to 57 families. “Many are living in great poverty and did not have food for their families,” he said. “They are totally helpless. But our God is there for them.”
Since our COVID-19 relief began, Save Pakistan has provided food packs to 140 families. They also handed out 298 cooked meals of biryani, a rice dish that is a staple in Pakistan.
The widow Nadia’s family receives food and the love of Christ during their time of mourning. (Photo by Save Pakistan)
Another day, one of Save Pakistan’s pastors informed Haseeb about a family that was suffering severely from the COVID-19 pandemic. The husband and father of the family had contracted coronavirus and died. His brother-in-law was also affected by the disease and could not walk.
“It was very risky to reach the family,” Haseeb said, “but I bowed to God and asked his power in me. I went to the family with the food pack. They were also shocked to look at me because they know that this is not easy. But I did it by the grace of God.
“I handed out the food pack and some cash to the family to help them and also prayed with them for the loss in their family. They thanked me and I said thanks to God as well as C4C, which is standing with us to support the people in Pakistan who are weak, oppressed, and crushed.”
Gilbert, right, giving COVID-19 relief to the widow Taina. (Photo by C4CNG)
When Gilbert Lindor received the video in mid-May, he was sickened. A Haitian man living in the Dominican Republic hanged himself because he was out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he could not feed his family.
“It hurt a lot to see him,” said Gilbert, who reached out to the man’s widow, named Taina, who has two children, ages 11 and 12.
Gilbert used COVID-19 relief to help this family. “When I gave her the envelope with support, she did not stop smiling,” Gilbert said. “She said that she never thought that she could receive such great support.
We also were able to help eight C4C New Generation members who were in need. “We have many students (in C4CNG) who are going through very difficult situations here in the DR because the vast majority study with the support of (family),” Gilbert said. “But many of their families have been fired from their jobs.”
A single mother of three children who was helped previously during a C4CNG food distribution joined the New Generation. “I have always told everyone, being a member of C4CNG is something voluntary and it is for people who feel called to serve,” Gilbert said. “I am not forcing anyone to be part of C4CNG, so I pray a lot that those who come will be sent by God and those who were not sent by God will be removed by Him.”
In all of this, Gilbert said “we see the fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 9:13-14”: “As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.”
Thursday, June 11
Kilimanjaro Chapter members.
I must confess that when I learned that each of our Mulanje Massif Chapter guides and porters in Malawi had received only $15 USD, I was disappointed. “Fifteen dollars doesn’t seem like much,” I said to co-laborer Damson Samson, who delivered the COVID-19 relief we had sent to our brothers in Christ.
“Fifteen dollars is not all that much,” Damson agreed, “but they can manage to buy food for a few days. And being a blessing, it has really been appreciated.”
One week later, this scene repeated itself. This time each of our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters in Tanzania received $17.31 USD.
I watched videos Damson sent me. Dauson Chonjo, a Kilimanjaro Chapter leader who I have known since 2008, spoke: “We’re so happy to receive this gift from our president of Climbing For Christ through the connection with Damson, the missionary from Malawi. We know now God knows us. There is a connection. Jesus Christ is the head and we are the cells and tissues and organs. We’re so happy to receive this. It will help us to buy cooking oil, sugar, rice, and some meat. It will help our families. God is so graceful and helpful. As we have been praying for Climbing For Christ in the world, we know these are the answers from our God. All of us will be praying more for them so they can grow in our flesh and in our spirit.”
Others spoke as well. Laurent Mbuya thanked God “for keeping us alive.” Fadhil Hilonga thanked the Lord for helping them. “We’re very happy to receive this,” Fadhil said.
But it was only about $17 per person, I lamented to Damson. “It seems so small. Like the $15 to the Mulanje members. How can so little help?” I asked.
“But this is not small,” Damson said, “especially in this time where there is great need. Thanks for the support.”
Where I come from $15 buys lunch at Chick-fil-A and $17 buys a pizza. Across the sea, my brothers are struggling to pay their rent and put food on the table for their families. This pains me.
COVID-19’s casualties far exceed the 7.5 million who have been infected globally or the more than 400,000 who have died. The need is greater than any of us can imagine.
Sara with one of her two daughters. (Photo by Save Pakistan)
Sara is a widow. She used to work as a maid in a Muslim’s home in Pakistan. Because of COVID-19, she lost her job.
“The Muslim family didn’t pay her for the work she did and told her that poor (people are) the ones who will get COVID-19, so don’t come to our house again because we don’t want to get this virus because of you,” brother Haseeb Masih told us.
Sara’s heart broke every time her two daughters asked for food she did not have. The brick factory owners would not give her a loan, even though failure to repay would mean the addition of another slave. “Then she decided to sell her body,” Haseeb said.
She stood on a road known for prostitution. “But that night, nobody came,” Haseeb said. Thank You, Father.
“The next day I heard from a pastor who told me how badly she is suffering, searching for food,” Haseeb reported. “I met her and handed out some food and some money to rescue this family. She was thankful to God that He provided (10 kilograms of flour and some money) and asked her to pray that the Lord would provide (more).”
We had just received another generous donation to help COVID-19 relief – to date 27 donors have given more than $11,300 – and I sent additional funding to Haseeb to help more of those in need. I asked if he would deliver some more to Sara. He said he would do it. All to the glory of God.
Thursday, June 4
The little girl in the photograph is 3 years old. She has only begun to speak in complete sentences. She and her family are slaves in a brick factory in Pakistan. When our brother Haseeb Masih made a delivery of food last weekend as part of Climbing For Christ’s COVID-19 relief effort, this little girl approached him.
“She came up to me and asked the question, ‘Uncle, will we die of hunger?’” Haseeb shared. “I asked, ‘Little girl, who told you that?’ She said, ‘My parents were talking that we will die with hunger.’
“I told her, ‘Little girl, nothing like that will happen to you and your parents. God will protect and provide for you all.’ She smiled big and then left.”
This child received one of 298 cooked meals prepared by Haseeb and his family, who faithfully operate our ministry partner Save Pakistan.
“As we got the funds,” he said, referring to $1,000 USD he received from Climbing For Christ on May 23, “we got to know that the brick kiln owner is not giving food to Christian slaves, including kids because his business is not doing good because of the lockdown. Little kids are crying for food and hurting badly.”
Save Pakistan prepared food packs for 83 families from their church and the brick factory. Each pack feeds a family for seven days.
“Everybody just ran to us to get food,” Haseeb reported. “We handed it to them, and they were blessed to have the first bite by thanking God.”
God continues to provide. We will be sending another $1,000 USD to Save Pakistan thanks to a generous donation from C4C members. Other members are being led by the Spirit to help us free more children from slavery in those brick factories through donations to Climbing For Christ’s Project 8:36 (based on John 8:36).
“Please pray for those who are suffering from starvation and slavery,” Haseeb requested.
On Monday, after Haseeb gave this little boy food, he wrote: “Today, Tipu will sleep with a full belly.” Praise the Lord!
“Some people tell us only to give food packs to Christian families,” Haseeb said. “They say, ‘You should not give food to Muslim families because, in the future, they will be the ones who persecute and kill Christians.’
“We tell those people that we should love, care, and protect everyone without judging. Jesus came for all of us. We have a responsibility to act immediately and protect those most in need.”
Climbing For Christ has been blessed to receive nearly $9,800 for COVID-19 relief. This has helped more than 300 families and scores of homeless people quarantined in Nepal; 99 Haitian families on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola; 200 widows in Malawi, Africa; 17 guides and porters in Climbing For Christ’s Mulanje Massif Chapter in Malawi and dozens more in the Kilimanjaro Chapter in Tanzania; and 35 families in the Peruvian Andes.
Some of these are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Others may come to know the Lord through these gifts. Most of these people are the neediest and the forgotten – by everyone but God.
Monday, June 1
- CLICK HERE to read “Rivers of tears” and see photos from relief work in Malawi.
- CLICK HERE to read “Contagious Christians” and see photos from relief work in Peru.
The parents of the children in the three schools supported by Climbing For Christ in the mountains of Haiti shared with C4C’s New Generation how “they have lost all their crops and they are sad for the schools that are closed leaving their children at home. Every parent wants to see their children advance in school,” said C4CNG leader Gilbert Lindor.
Four C4CNG members – Gaston Louis Jean, Scott Joliqueur, Dikenlove Asaindor, and Murlene Senatus – used $1,100 USD to purchase and distribute a bag of rice, one-half gallon cooking oil, and spaghetti each to 41 families from Gentilhomme, Kamiel, and Malasi. “The food could not be delivered outside the church due to the number of people who come from other communities so that they also could receive (food),” Gilbert said. “Therefore, the delivery was made inside the church.”
Gilbert was in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, when the delivery was made. But when Gaston sent him the photo above (along with other photos and video) he saw the happiness and gratitude of the parents and teachers. “I started screaming, ‘Gloria a Dios’ throughout the house,” Gilbert said, “and I started to pray for all members of C4C.”
In addition to the 41 families in Haiti, 25 Haitian families in the Dominican Republic were assisted. Last month, 33 others were also fed – bringing the total to 99 families. “We thank each person who gave to make this possible,” Gilbert said.
IN NEPAL, where the lockdown has stretched on for 10 weeks, ministry partner Pastor Tej Rokka was able to get permission from the local government to respond to the needs of the neediest people around SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) church.
“We cannot gather groups to give food and take pictures and post anywhere due to government policy,” Tej explained. “We gave help to 35 families and 46 homeless people in quarantine shelters.”
Tej used $1,000 USD to purchase cooking gas for a month, vegetables, and snacks for church families and non-Christians alike.
“I was even interviewed by national television while helping homeless people,” Tej said. “I was able to witness the Lord and His church.
“Publicly, they appreciated how the church is engaged to help people in suffering during this time.”
Thursday, May 21
Nepal has been locked down since March 24, but now parts of Kathmandu are being “sealed completely” in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus. Nepal ranks relatively low globally (130th) for cases (453) and deaths (three), but the government continues to shut down the country.
“Everybody said your team distributed food for the needy people on time,” said Megh Gurung, Climbing For Christ’s Kingdom worker, who helped deliver food to 275 families.
The Nepal lockdown has been extended to at least June 2.
“We do not know what will happen and we as followers of Christ are praying and fasting and asking God to help us overcome the pandemic,” said Pastor Tej Rokka, a long-time C4C member and ministry partner.
There is an upside to the lockdown in Nepal (and around the world): a decrease in air pollution.
The Nepali Times reported: “On 10 May, for the first time almost anyone can remember, Mount Everest was visible from Kathmandu.”
Mount Everest (arrow) photographed from Kathmandu, 125 miles away. (Nepali Times)
“With vehicles off the roads, factories closed, the air over Nepal was breathtakingly clean,” the Nepali Times wrote. “Hospitals in Kathmandu Valley are usually crowded this time of the year with patients suffering respiratory illnesses aggravated by pollution and dust, but in the past two months hospitals have registered a sharp drop in people seeking treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, chronic bronchitis, and allergies.”
Monday, May 18
Megh Gurung in front of rice and oil delivered to hundreds of families in Nepal.
Edwin Milla, our Kingdom worker in Peru, talked about the “many people who need food” in the mountains around Huaraz, where he lives. “It is very difficult to reach them because the roads are blocked and there is no public transport.”
Despite lockdowns and other obstacles, we are reaching those in need.
COVID-19 has claimed many lives (28,000 in my home state of New York alone) and troubled even more. We responded to the pandemic by dedicating #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5 to raising relief funds to help our co-workers and ministry partners help those around them.
My prayerful dream was to raise $7,000 so we could send $1,000 to each of the seven countries where six of our brothers are serving. Thanks be to God, we received about $7,300 from 22 donors.
The first $1,000 helped Megh Gurung, our Nepali Kingdom worker, distribute food to 275 families through local churches in Kathmandu. They provided rice, dal (lentils), oil, sugar, salt, and soap.
Gilbert Lindor and C4C’s New Generation (Haiti) started delivering food last month to Haitian families in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where Gilbert attends medical school. C4CNG will provide food for pastors, teachers, and some families in the Haiti schools that we support. Gilbert also was moved to help a Santo Domingo family of a Haitian man who hung himself in the face of “watching his family starving. It hurt a lot to see him,” Gilbert said.
Damson Samson, our Malawi-based East Africa Kingdom worker, will be meeting guides and porters in the Mulanje Massif Chapter for DMD training. He also will give them COVID-19 relief money to help feed their families. We are delivering funds to the guides and porters of the Kilimanjaro Chapter as well. Damson has been unable to get to Tanzania since we had to postpone Mission: Kilimanjaro 2020 in March.
In Pakistan, Haseeb met a Christian couple who, he said, “planned to kill their three kids first and (then) themselves with sharp blades. They told us, it’s been four days that they didn’t eat anything. The husband/dad of these kids works as a sewage cleaner and hardly earns his bread and butter every day, but after this lockdown this family (was) hit so hard that survival became impossible for them.
“This Christian couple shared their hearts with us,” Haseeb added. “The man told us he decided to rob someone, but then ‘my wife told me what are we teaching our kids? It’s better to die than starve every day.’”
Haseeb and Save Pakistan ministry shared a food pack with the couple.
“Hunger is killing more people here than COVID-19,” Haseeb said. “Please continue to pray for those who are still looking for food and if you are led by the Spirit, you can join us, too.”
We will continue to post updates as we respond to the coronavirus pandemic around the C4C world.
Tuesday, May 5
A Muslim man called Pastor Tej Rokka on the phone Friday night, May 1 in Kathmandu, Nepal. “I picked up his call and heard his cry,” Tej said. “He has no rice and he came from the border of India and worked at a sewing center. But after the lockdown, he couldn’t go (back) to his village and the owner (of the sewing center) is not responding to his call.
“Someone gave him my number and he called me,” said Tej, a long-time Climbing For Christ member and ministry partner.
Nepal has been locked down by COVID-19 since March 24.
“Here, the lockdown is very strict,” said Megh Gurung, Climbing For Christ’s Kingdom worker in Nepal. “Nobody can walk in public places.
“Laborers were thinking the lockdown will be short-term, but it became long. So, they can’t sustain for their families.”
The coronavirus global pandemic has claimed a quarter-billion lives. And is devastating many, many more. It is wrecking the lives of millions, especially in the majority world.
COVID-19’s impact prompted a special Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday (known as #GivingTuesday) normally follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday (read: the commercialization of CHRISTmas) after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is intended to prompt charitable giving worldwide, and it worked last year to the tune of nearly $2 billion.
Today (May 5) is the special Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesdayNow). It is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.
We are using this day to raise relief funds to help our co-workers in Haiti (Gilbert Lindor), Malawi (Damson Samson), Nepal (Megh and Tej), Pakistan (Haseeb Masih), Peru (Edwin Milla) and Tanzania (Damson) deal with the impact of coronavirus. My prayerful dream is to raise $7,000 – $1,000 for each of our brothers in Christ in the respective countries where they are serving the immeasurable need.
The Muslim man has weighed on my heart – as we are amid Project Prayer: Ramadan 2020 – since Tej shared his story.
“I am praying for him,” Tej said, “and I must do something to help him.”
But that is not the only person in need.
“I received another call from a Dalit woman saying that there are eight families in her neighborhood who are without food,” Tej said. The Dalit are the lowest caste, the poorest of the poor.
We serve both spiritual and physical needs among some of the poorest people in the world, including Malawi (sixth-poorest country, according to the World Bank), Haiti (No. 14), Nepal (No. 31), and Tanzania (No. 34).
A widow in Sakwedwa village, Malawi is overcome with gratitude after receiving a sleeping mat to put on her dirt floor, and a water bucket and soap to wash her hands. (CLICK HERE for more Mission Moments from Malawi.)
“Being in a country like Malawi, there is a lot to say regarding the way our widows are living,” said Damson, our Kingdom worker in East Africa. “It is very pathetic.
“Widows are just left to die – as many of their relatives can’t provide enough support to them.”
There is not enough food and even less medical care.
This is common, unfortunately, where most of our co-workers are serving.
In Pakistan, long-time C4C member and ministry partner Evangelist Haseeb told of a mother with a 3-year-old son who hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and was begging for food. “She met a man who told her to sleep with him and then in return he will give her food and milk for her son,” Haseeb relayed. “She told us, ‘I was thinking to sleep with him for my son, but God sent you to rescue me and my son.’”
People in Peru have been living in quarantine for seven weeks. “This measure left everything paralyzed and nobody was prepared to face these measures,” said Edwin, our Kingdom worker in Peru. “Many people worked daily for the daily expense of food, so these people ran out of money and food.”
Edwin’s 80-year-old mother-in-law was infected by COVID-19, “but a miracle has happened in her life. Knowing that she was infected, the whole family cried out to the Lord in fast and prayer, and God has had mercy and healed my mother-in-law.”
Peru has the second-most reported cases of coronavirus in South American (trailing only Brazil).
In Haiti, there is a curfew and schools were closed. But tap-taps – converted trucks that serve as public transportation – remain jammed with people. “The saddest thing about that is that people do not want to stay home and go out into the street without protection in search of daily bread,” said Gilbert, our Kingdom worker in Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere does not have the wherewithal to handle the spread of coronavirus. Almost miraculously there have been only eight deaths reported, while next door in the D.R. there have been 10 times as many cases of this horrible disease.
“I don’t think we can feed an entire community,” Gilbert said, “but as the Bible says in Galatians 6:10, in cases that we can support, we must first consider the brothers of the faith.”
That includes the nine teachers we support, the pastors in those villages, and C4C New Generation members, such as one who has not been able to pay his rent ($100 a month) the past two months.
Kilimanjaro porter Baraka Membawe and his family in Tanzania.
Guides and porters who are part of our Kilimanjaro Chapter in Tanzania are facing the same challenges. There is no tourism so there is no work on the mountain.
“They are failing to pay rent, especially those living hand to mouth,” Damson said. “They have been calling and asking if they could borrow money to sustain their families.”
Providing for our workers is vital.
Because no matter how difficult situations become, God does not slumber nor sleep. God is at work.
“Today, I went to visit believers with not (being) seen by policemen,” Megh told me Sunday from locked-down Nepal. “I met a guy; his name is Lal Bahadur Pulami. He was thirsting and hungry for the Word of God. I shared the Word of God. Lal accepted Jesus today.”
If you are led to support our COVID-19 relief, you can:
- CLICK HERE to give online via PayPal;
- Send a check to Climbing For Christ, c/o COVID-19 Relief, P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616;
- Text to donate (text GIVEC4C to 44-321).
In Canada, make cheques payable to The Great Commission Foundation, and on the memo line add Climbing For Christ CANADA. Mail your support to: The Great Commission Foundation, c/o C4C Canada COVID-19 Relief, P.O. Box 14006, Abbotsford, BC V2T 0B4. Or CLICK HERE to give online and put C4C Canada COVID-19 Relief in the Comments box.