Since the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance World Fellowship, along Alliance Justice and Compassion (C&MA Canada) and CAMA Services (C&MA United States), began working together to mobilize a global response to COVID-19, following the example of Jesus, a compassionate Saviour who calls us to action. They gathered to pray and felt a responsibility to seek a quick and effective response to the needs of the most vulnerable among those served by Alliance churches around the world.
Compassion ministry has been central to The Christian and Missionary Alliance Missionary Movement since the beginning. Alliance people in Canada, the USA, CAMA Zending (Netherlands), and Hong Kong Alliance Mission have been on the frontline of this ministry. As the Alliance movement has grown, we are seeking the engagement of more national churches to multiply its resources and enlarge its reach. To offer a unified response from the Alliance, we invited the National Church Presidents and Directors of the Relief and Development departments to meet in May 2020, in different languages and time zones. The objective of the meeting was to collect information about the needs of the most vulnerable communities served by the Alliance worldwide and discuss responses that are fast and well-targeted. The two-hour meetings were held in English (two meetings), in Spanish, and in French, from May 11 to 13.
During one of the four meetings that were held to organize what was the AWF Global Response to COVID-19 – Phase 1, the president of an African national church told us: “We cannot help everyone, but we can help those whom they have nothing”. This summed up our leaders’ understanding that the challenge before us was beyond our ability, but that God would provide the necessary provision for His people and we were willing to share it with those most in need in the communities we serve.
In the first step toward a global response to COVID-19, nearly 100 representatives from 38 AWF member countries came together in four meetings from May 11-13 to share their views and experiences; then, on May 15, a task force formed by the representatives of the Relief and Development ministries of United States, Canada, Hong Kong, and others met with the Executive Committee of the Alliance World Fellowship to consider which would be the next steps.
After these meetings, we asked the pastors of the local Alliance churches that sponsored Relief Projects to answer the Relief Projects Questionnaire, a very easy one that the group of experts developed and had to be filled out by the end of May 2020. The prayer of AWF was that the information that would be received would be of help to strengthen the hands of those in the field in a meaningful, productive way and to sow seeds of the testimony of God’s love and thus provide us with specific information about each project. The forms were available for filling on our website and social media.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the church with a great opportunity to express God’s care and compassion for all people. Caring for people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs is a directive for God’s people expressed throughout the biblical narrative. By thinking of tangible ways to love our neighbor, as taught, and illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The collected information was consolidated by the AWF Relief and Development Office and sent to the presidents of the national churches as part of the analysis and decision processes for the meetings that were scheduled for June 1-4, 2020.
The AWF Relief and Development Office received more than 230 relief project proposals for the Phase 1 of the AWF Global Response Program to COVID-19. These projects represented only a small part of the effort that the AWF family has been making around the world to support the most vulnerable communities.
The Global Alliance Family has been serving thousands of vulnerable communities in more than 50 countries since the pandemic began. Local churches distributed food, masks, soaps, and medicines, and raised awareness about proper hygiene habits and the use of protective measures. AWF Global Response to COVID-19 helped those local churches with more funds to reach more people who experience God’s love and mercy through the hands of his servants.
The AWF Global Response team met on June 8-9 to decide about the projects and amounts to be awarded. The projects were chosen based on their relevance, impact, viability, and local commitment. Projects from Burkina Faso, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Italy, Jordan, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, and Peru were selected.
In Phase 1 of the AWF Global Response to COVID-19, we were able to allocate $ 110,900 USD in aid to meet immediate needs for congregations and communities. The generous donations came from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Netherlands, and United States. Thousands of people from vulnerable communities received food and hygiene products from volunteers from local Alliance churches.
We are infinitely grateful to God because this was a great blessing for the Alliance family, many countries participated and it allowed us to reach out with the tangible love of God to those who needed it most at the right time.
In December, the AWF Relief and Development Committee approved projects from 17 countries for a second phase of COVID-19 recovery. The C&MA in Canada contributed $150,000 to support these projects which focus on things such as: agriculture, nutrition, savings programs, leadership development and more.
It has since been identified that some of the countries need training. The next step is going to be offering training to better equip the national churches to do more holistic community development in their church ministry work.