Over these past few months, I have listened to so many stories from our partners and their communities of struggle and of heartbreak.
Stories of daily labourers without incomes, who don’t have any reserves, welfare or government payments to fall back on.
The difficulty of social distancing in urban areas, where physical proximity makes it impossible, and where social connection forms the foundation of communities. In these places, people live, work, and in hard times, support one another and share their lives so intricately. Their very strength can become their vulnerability when you have a contagious virus that will spread through households unchecked.
The effect of natural disasters like Cyclone Amphan, which hit the Bay of Bengal with winds of 160km/h and huge storm surges that that destroyed homes, gardens, crops, roads and the assets of those who are already dipping into whatever reserves they had. It produced torrential rain in the Rohingya camps that created rivers of mud through houses and clinics. This was an added blow for people already struggling to cope with their daily stresses.
In two other cases, in different countries, TEAR’s partners were horrified and saddened by senseless acts of violence and death that touched them directly.
Through all of these trials, our partners and their staff are there, sharing lives and offering hope.
Many of our partners are directly involved in providing essential items such as food and hygiene materials and messages to people in COVID lockdowns. As well as physical things, they bring messages of hope and practical care and love.
This is not without cost and risk – walking and carrying supplies for daily labourers returning to their villages in mid-40-degree temperatures resulted in illness for some partner staff. Another partner provides the district’s COVID ambulance, taking patients who are COVID positive to the dedicated government hospital.
Such suffering and trials are an indication of a broken world. In places where violence and conflict are a constant stress, slowly wearing people down and creating community-wide mental health issues, TEAR’s partners have remained a constant and reassuring presence.
What gives them strength and enables them to persevere and remain faithful?
We know that all throughout the Bible, we’re encouraged to endure: to persevere through trials (James 1:4,12); to not grow weary in the good work God has called us to (Galatians 6:9); to sow seeds, even in times of sorrow (Psalm 126:5-6).
In Psalm 90 Moses, a faithful leader, cried “Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?” We join in this cry, and also in the hope that follows the obedience and act of perseverance: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing with joy and be glad all our days.”
This psalm reminds us that trials are neither the whole nor the end of the story, because within in the midst of brokenness, suffering and uncertainty, there are signs of God’s hope and love in the lives and work of those who follow Him. “May the favour of the LORD…establish the work of our hands for us – yes establish the work of our hands.”
Today, we give thanks for this deep abiding hope that motivates our partners to keep pursuing the work God has called them to do bringing his love to others in need. And we pray that we might similarly be generous in my response and obedience in bringing hope to others.