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The Coronavirus Diaries: Challenge and Opportunity

Wednesday September 29

The Rt Rev Shourabh Pholia, Bishop of Barishal Diocese in the Church of Bangladesh, describes how the church has responded to the challenges of the pandemic.

From 2020 we all are living in a Covid-19 context . It has changed our lives and the whole world. Now we are living in a new era and still struggling with the changes to survive.

It is a harsh reality in any country like Bangladesh, where people are living in poverty and which is overpopulated. Due to Covid-19 people have lost their jobs, seen their earnings reduced, and people have migrated from cities to rural areas where there are not enough places to stay and there is not enough food for all. People suffered and are suffering.

Along with that, when anyone in a family is affected by the Coronavirus then it was and is a big challenge for them. The cost of the treatment was expensive, especially when anyone needed CCU or ICU in hospital to access oxygen or needed special care. Like many other countries we also faced the challenge of getting oxygen for critical patients. When someone was infected, keeping him or her in a separate room was not possible for many families live in one small room together – it was hard for people to survive. As result most of the family members had to suffer and here women and children were vulnerable. Women had to serve the whole family even when they were infected.

In that context people had to depend on the local community, church partners or on Government. Government tried to support people but it was not easy for them to support all.

The church responded to the needs of people and community. The Barishal Diocese of the Church of Bangladesh extended its support to poor and needy people who were in need of food and cash to run their families. When people were sick church members supported people by providing various support like taking them to hospital, bringing reports, providing medicines, food or marketing for their daily needs etc.  Our church members who are doctors supported many by giving advice for their treatment and the nurses did their best to care for people. The doctors and nurses served people by risking their lives and by risking their families.

I have experienced this kind of support when I suffered and was sick. It was our church members who came forward with their kind support to heal me with God’s blessings. The other most important thing the church did was PRAYER and continuous prayer for all those who were suffering and are suffering and serving. All prayed to the Healer who listened and healed us. I am witnessing it with many who were healed.

During this time of crisis, people could not join church services and were hungry for spiritual food. The diocese organised Zoom prayer meetings, youth prayer fellowship and women’s Bible study, which helped the youth, women and lay people to have spiritual food regularly. It gave space to our youth and women and all to come to a platform to worship our Lord God, to receive God’s blessings and refresh them in this new context. This new context has increased daily prayer meetings in families. We the Diocese took this as an opportunity to serve and so, we distributed thousands of copies of the Holy Bible to families, youth and women. They are using them regularly.

Covid-19 has challenged us, it is true, but it has encouraged us more to be united and support one another to overcome challenges and to be healed.

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

China: We Have Answered the Call
Zambia: Safety for All
South Africa: Resilience and Hope
Nigeria: Life is Gradually Coming Back
Nepal: Our Deadliest Enemy
Malawi: A Crisis That Will Not Go Away
Kenya: Covid is Real
Belgium: Some Silver Linings
South Africa: Will We Keep Listening?
Zimbabwe: Untold Sufferings
A Deep and Inconsolable Loss: Tribute to Phumzile Mabizela
Malawi: This Was Very Real
Sri Lanka: Daily Numbers are Shocking
Jerusalem: Virtual Prisoners
Bangladesh: We Will Survive by the Grace of God
Nepal: Exhausting and Often Heartbreaking
Malawi: God Has Been Faithful to Us
France: Thankful For What I Have
India: Love Your Neighbours
A Nigerian in Scotland: Alone But Not Lonely
Taiwan: When We Work Together, We Achieve the Best Results
Hungary: We Mourn Each Loss
Zambia: Preparing for the Vaccine, and a Third Wave
World Communion of Reformed Churches: The 'Covid and Beyond' Church
Pakistan: Passing the Light
Lebanon: The Lord Will Not Forsake Us
South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: 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'