By Lidia Garcia in Barcelona, Spain. Lidia is part of Agape Más, which shows God's love to marginalised people.
Photo by Benedikt Geyer on Unsplash
Admit it, we all have grumbled about how dreadful it is to be in confinement and how much we long to be outside again. But have you realized that #stayhome is not a duty but rather a privilege? You are not stuck at home--you are safe at home.
In our cities, there are thousands of people with no home, people who cannot do any kind of lockdown simply because they have nowhere to stay. They have no place to sleep, eat, or even wash their hands. In our neighborhoods, there are many women and children who are trapped with their abusers in tiny apartments.
Their confinement is not a break from their routine, but a nightmare. They are not safe. In our borders, there are camps where men, women and infants are crammed together in worn out, ragged tents covered in mud. Many were already sick or injured before COVID19 arrived. In such circumstances as theirs, how can one practice physical distance? How can they have access to proper hygiene? For the vulnerable, #stayhome is a privilege.
In front of these dramatic situations, how can we, as followers of Jesus, extend our privilege to reach those in the margins of society? How can we "not only look to our own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4)? What can we do to alleviate their suffering? How can we love them well and bring them hope?
It is really complicated to be by the side of those who are hurting while being restricted at home. But there are still many practical things we can do apart from praying:
What options are local churches, Agape or other organizations currently creating for the most marginalized? Am I aware of what needs are around me? How could I meet them?
If you are healthy, with no previous pathologies, and are living alone or with people who are not at risk, consider offering your time to a local church or organization that is serving the needy. From buying or delivering groceries to packing or handing out hygiene kits, there are many ways in which you can get involved while still keeping a proper physical distance. Make sure you wear a mask and gloves to protect the ones you serve!
Only you know what you can do! But in case you need some ideas, here there are some tips:
Do you have any friend, church member or neighbor who has lost his/her job and cannot pay their bills? What about coming together with others and paying for their utilities for the next month?
Maybe you are suffering yourself the consequences of COVID19 and feel helpless as to how you could help others. But even if you feel there is nothing you can do, there is always something. Raise awareness. Use social media to open people's eyes to the needs around us and change misconceptions. Rather than spreading fear or fake news, let's use our media to "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9
There are many local churches and organizations that are already working hard in the midst of those who are in need. They are putting their lives at risk to love and serve the most vulnerable. All they need is resources to keep providing aid to the marginalized. Invest what God has given you -and even encourage others- in providing safer environments for those who cannot #stayhome
Do you need guidance for where to donate? If after exploring your neighborhood and city you are still uncertain about it, let us give you a couple of recommendations:
GAIN is Agape's humanitarian partner. Among other projects, they are currently planning on constructing and equipping quarantine areas to isolate refugees infected by the Corona virus in Camp Moria, Lesbos. You can find them in the UK, Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. Check their instagram accounts: @globalaidnetuk @gainhelpt @gain_austria @gaingermany @gainswitzerland @gainspain
Agape+ is a ministry of Agape in Spain. They walk alongside and provide options for the marginalized. They work among the homeless, refugees, and trafficked women in Spanish cities. Right now they are putting together hygiene kits for the homeless and providing meals and toiletries for sexually exploited women. Check their instagram @agapemas or webpage www.agapemas.com (in Spanish).
Red Cross - In most European cities, you can find an office that provides medical or social care to the most vulnerable. They are doing a great job responding to the needs of the marginalized and most affected by this current crisis. Check in your own city how you can get involved.
Open Doors is providing meals and emergency aid to persecuted Christian families in lockdown. To read more about this in English, check https://www.opendoorsuk.org/
What is your superpower?
Empathy is about giving the gift of true, engaged listening.
During this time of global pandemic, if there is a word worthy to underline – and which brings to light thousands of people’s selfless commitment to risk their lives and serve unconditionally with their time and resources – it is the word generosity.
A psalm of thanksgiving and praise in the midst of struggle (very loosely based on Psalm 118).