Sanjay and John are fruitful disciple makers in North India. When their country went into complete lockdown due to COVID-19, they knew the effects on the poor could be devastating. They couldn’t sit by and do nothing. Like Jesus’ first followers in Acts 4:32-34, they didn’t want to leave any “needy people” among them. They and some other disciples pooled their resources and put together food packages containing items such as rice, lentils, and oil. They delivered them to house churches in need. They also shared the believers’ need with their BEYOND partners, Ethan and Nicole, and asked for prayer.
Ethan and Nicole, inspired by Sanjay and John’s love for their neighbors and application of Acts 4, wrote to friends and family back home three weeks ago, asking if they wanted to help the churches in the movement. Many gave generously and continue to do so. Ethan and Nicole ensure the money gets to Sanjay and John, who, in turn, distribute funds to area leaders, who buy food and distribute it to the needy house churches in their areas. In the midst of all this, another pressing need has surfaced: water.
During the second week of lockdown, an area leader brought food to a local family. The couple lives in a one-room hut on a dirt lane in a small village. The husband is blind in one eye, and the wife recently fell ill. They had no food and no way to get it. Since the wife became sick, no one in the village was allowing her to get water anymore. They were grateful for the food, but they were also thirsty. They asked if the leader could help them get water.
This leader called Sanjay and John to ask if food funds could be applied to the installation of a hand pump for this family. It would benefit them, but also the other families on their small lane who had no water. Sanjay and John asked Ethan and Nicole if there was enough money. Three days later, the hand pump was installed. The family and their neighbors, fellow members of the Body of Christ, now have food to eat and water to drink.
Lockdown is not over yet. But, instead of starvation and death for the churches, the lockdown has become an opportunity for God’s Body to care for its own. It’s as if 2 Cor. 9:7-14 has come alive:
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure . . .. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the One who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers . . . will be met, AND they will joyfully express their thanks to God . . . AND they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. (NLT)
Nicole summarized the joy they all feel: “God allowed us to meet the need we knew about: food and a need we didn’t even know existed: water. To date, literally thousands of house churches have received food stores to last them through the currently stated end of lockdown. The household described above and others have had wells dug and hand pumps installed. All because a few weeks ago, simple disciples of Jesus had eyes to see and ears to hear the needs surrounding them. They just asked God how they could follow the example set in Acts 4. And then they obeyed.”