Our sisters and brothers in India are facing an unimaginable crisis. Covid-19 has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives there, and the daily death toll continues to rise. In the midst of this suffering, local leaders that Langham has helped equip are on the ground in India, leading the church to love and serve in hard places made even harder by Covid. The situation is desperate, and they are calling on the global church to pray.
Below is a recent update and prayer requests from one of these leaders serving in northern India. The news is hard. Would you join us in lifting India up in prayer? May God have mercy.
We as a nation are going through terrible times. According to official figures, every day 3,600 die and another 400,000 people are affected by Covid-19. But it is said that in reality the real daily death toll is much higher – the media even quoted the number as high as 20,000.
Mass cremations and burials are happening, even on the footpaths. Dead bodies are lined up for the funeral pyre for hours before they are cremated. Corpses are piled up inhumanly in hospitals and outside health centres due to a shortage of space in the mortuary. In the city like Bengaluru, the administration has assigned 265 acres of land for burial and cremations to cope with the desperate situation. Local government bodies are converting city parks, car parks and footpaths as cremations spaces.
People are dying in hospitals without oxygen availability or without an Intensive Care Unit bed and access to doctors. The medical system has collapsed. Though COVID vaccination initiatives are on, due to lack of supply many of the centres are closed. This situation is true of cities, towns, and rural communities, including where I live.
The information and images that we see on TV or on social media are from the major cities of the country. 70% of India’s rural communities struggle desperately without basic health facilities. For them COVID is like a fever or body pain, but eventually death happens and goes under reported. The rural medical infrastructure is in a desperate situation.
During this crisis, sin and the evilness of the human mind have grown to their fullness. Pride, control on vital supplies, manipulations of data, propaganda to protect political idols and corruption have increased. Oxygen cylinders, concentrators and vital medicines are hoarded by politicians and middle men. The black market is very active with 10 to 20 times of the original pricing. Remdesivir medicine is sold in the market at $870 for 6 doses. It’s an unimaginable price for an ordinary Indian. Even at crematoriums, people have to pay an enormous amount of money to see loved ones buried properly. There is anger, helplessness, loneliness, shame, mental agony, pain, loss and suffering. This is increasing due to the apathy, incompetence, insensitivity and corruption prevailing in the country in this time of crisis.
In our local church, we lost a few members to Covid, and there are about more than 60 who tested positive and are taking medication at home. There are horrific stories like one of our fellow believers who waited for hours for hospital admission, and then was informed that no bed was available. He had to be taken to three other hospitals to get admitted finally. But that was too late, we lost him. And there are no coffin boxes readily available at the cemetery for burial.
We also lost eleven of our key leaders (including two spouses of pastors) in our national church in several places. Pastors are struggling to meet the treatment expenses. Believers are going through a tough time and financial challenges due to partial lockdowns.
Many in the rural communities fear going to a hospital, access to medical facilities is a big challenge in rural regions. As I write, I got a note asking if I can help to organize an admission for a pastor’s wife in the city. All hospitals are full, and we do not know how to handle it.
Many people, including believers, are not taking the vaccination due to fear, and that is a significant hindrance as well.
Although PCR tests are free in government hospitals, it is charged between $12 to $20 in private medical facilities, which is too much for anybody who needs urgent help. And a medical treatment in a private hospital for oxygen/ICU support for 10 to 12 days costs about $1,000.
We have lost many bishops, pastors, and evangelists at the national church level. In many seminaries staff are affected and also lost a few faculty members. There are many senior leaders who are in critical conditions.
However, Christians are making a difference amid suffering. There are a lot of initiatives by the church. Christian hospitals are doing their best to serve the people.
The Covid protocols are hindering many direct activities. The church is actively engaged in serving the nation in many ways—setting up food banks, preparing food for those who have lost jobs during the crisis, offering financial assistance for medical treatments , purchasing oxygen cylinders for those most in need, organizing free ambulance services, and helping pay burial expenses.
Christian volunteers are serving in the cemeteries to give dignified burial services to those demised, while counselling and supporting families going through grief. And widows of the pastors are being helped with financial assistance.
PRAY FOR INDIA
Please pray for:
1. God’s wisdom for political leaders to make the right decisions regarding using resources to reduce pain and suffering in our country.
2. Pray that medical supplies will be constantly available (Covid vaccines, other vital medicines, oxygen…). Please pray against the black marketing and hoarding of oxygen and critical medicines like Remdesivir.
3. The families are going through enormous pain of loss, neglect, loneliness, and helplessness. Particularly for those from the majority religious tradition – a pain (or guilt) of not being able to take care of their loved ones due to health system collapse and a sense of non-fulfillment due to not giving a proper farewell to the deceased as per their religious requirements.
4. Pray for the church leadership (we have lost many key leaders in the north and south of India), and believers. Pray that the families who lost their loved ones have peace and comfort. The church has stopped all physical meetings; please pray that the faith life of the believers is strong during this crisis.
5. The Seminaries and Bible colleges in the country are going through tremendous pressure. Last year, almost all seminaries had closed residential programs. And now this year there is a dilemma about how to move forward. It is affecting leadership training, the preparation of thousands of future leaders.
6. Christian hospitals in the country are serving people in crisis. Please pray for doctors and medical staff, that they become hope amid chaos.
7. Christians across the country are engaged in helping people in all sorts of ways. Pray for greater collaboration, cooperation and resource mobilization among the Christian groups.