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The Coronavirus Diaries: Caring For One Another in Christ

The Coronavirus Diaries: Caring For One Another in Christ

Wednesday July 15 2020

The Rev Peter Kaniah Kariuki, Secretary General of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, tells how the church has fed more than 30,000 families during the lockdown.

On March 15, the Kenyan government confirmed the first cases on COVID-19 and announced a nationwide ban on large gatherings, along with the closure of schools and nonessential businesses. Two days later, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) held a press conference to announce the closure of its worship services in adherence with the government directive.

Even as the PCEA leadership discussed the closing of in-person worship services, we recognised the human impact of the government directives. Clearly for many of our people, if they don’t work today, they won’t eat tomorrow. In a country with nearly 65% of its people working in the informal labour sector, the same directives intended to keep people safe would lead to food insecurity. People around the country could be heard saying they would rather risk COVID-19 than hunger.

When people are hungry, it's not about giving them bread for one day. It is about walking with them throughout their period of need whereby you will be able to testify to the goodness of the Lord when you see the daybreak together.

Within two weeks, we as the leaders of the PCEA had mobilised its 4.5 million church members to provide food and support for families. The “Adopt a Family” initiative fed more than 32,000 families throughout Kenya in April, May and June, and its efforts continue. Parishes and presbyteries have heeded God’s command to love one another in times of joy and struggle. PCEA members and friends have shown up with bags of maize and flour, vegetables and milk, tea leaves and sugar, and financial support to purchase essential items.

In collaboration with local congregations and community administrative officials, the PCEA has identified the most at-risk families and is walking with these families by providing a monthly delivery that provides enough food to sustain a family of four. The church hopes to continue the monthly drop-offs until the pandemic is over.

Some of the members who are donating also are struggling financially themselves during this time. These faithful members have committed to giving 50 Kenya shillings a week (around 37p) and they have been donating each week for the past eight weeks. We also have some rural congregations who could not donate money. One such congregation from Nyahururu, a fertile part of the country, sent an entire truckload of maize that they recently harvested for families in the informal settlements of Nairobi. It is one of the great blessings of the Church: caring for one another in Christ.

The Coronavirus Diaries: Updates from Church of Scotland partners around the world

India: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'