Making masks in Indonesia and giving nurses protective clothing in the gulf: two stories of hope in the midst of coronavirus
Whether you’re reading news from the UK and Ireland or from around the world, it can feel rather overwhelming. The spread of coronavirus and the devastating effects of the lockdown are often hard to read about – and your persecuted church family do still desperately need your help. But it’s also important to share stories of hope and joy in the midst of crisis, and how God is working. Here are two that we hope will encourage you. Please remember that all of us at Open Doors continue to pray for you and your families.
Naomi* is a Christian from a Muslim background in Indonesia, where converting from Islam often means believers are ostracised by their communities and families. Naomi and her husband lead a church, and get money from the congregation’s offerings – but the current crisis makes it difficult for most church members to feed themselves, let alone give offerings.
Naomi attended the Open Doors’ Women Training Centre to learn tailoring, knitting and making women’s accessories in 2018, and Open Doors later provided her with sewing machines for her own business and to teach others. But her income can’t be relied on now. “I have sewed clothes, made earrings, bags and other women’s accessories to sell but people no longer buy them as they have to cut budget on such things. We can’t count on it anymore,” says Naomi.
But, after the coronavirus outbreak, Naomi realised she could use her skills to produce homemade masks. “I originally made the masks for my family, but also neighbours and church members, free of charge.” But one day, a shop owner requested her to produce it in large quantities. She now supplies them to the shop regularly.
“The income from the masks selling helps us a lot, amidst the current economic situation. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to learn the skills in Women Training Centre because it became a blessing to our community now. Thank you, Open Doors!”
Naomi has a message of hope to share with all of us: “Please don’t lose hope despite the current situation. Although you must stay at home, when you are given a talent and skill, do make something out of it to be a blessing to your surroundings. This mask is my contribution to my family and community.”
In the Gulf region, Open Doors local partners have been able to find a safe and legal way to provide some of the Christian nurses in a majority-Muslim country with protective clothing as they care for coronavirus patients. This equipment has been denied to some Christian nurses and seems impossible to access on the market. Like aid being denied to Christians, believers are often overlooked for these vital resources.
A local partner says, “An initial distribution took place today as we gave out these outfits to some of the most ill-treated nurses in the country. These efforts will continue over the week.”
“Thank you for coming to us,” says one Christian nurse. “It has been the most lonely experience. Isolation is one thing – alienation by your own people quite another thing. You have shown us who we belong to by coming in Christ’s name. We have no one but Him.”
Thank You, Father, that You gave Naomi the opportunity to be light in the darkness. We pray that You would strengthen and encourage Christians around the world to be the voice of hope to their communities, and we pray for Your protection against illness, persecution and alienation.
*Name changed for security reasons