There is no doubt that we find ourselves in a time of national and global crisis. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has upended normal life and caused physical, mental, emotional, and financial turmoil for all segments of society in all parts of the world. It seems no one is untouched and many have needs that must be served.
While those with even a modest amount of resources should be able to meet their personal needs for goods, services, and healthcare during this time, it is the poor, marginalized, and outcasts of society who will suffer the most. People who work in hourly-wage jobs in service industries are being laid off and find themselves without a source of income indefinitely. Often, these people have no savings or retirement from which to draw. In addition, many Americans have no health insurance and cannot get the medical care they may need.
Bottom line? We will soon have a great number of people in serious need. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we must help serve them. We must ban together in love and compassion, get creative, and do all we can to serve our fellow man in whatever practical ways we can. Now is the time to be generous and kindhearted, knowing God calls us to care for those in need.
How can we do this? Here are 7 simple suggestions to get you started.
1) Buy a little extra to give away.
We’ve all seen the empty store shelves as COVID-19 continues to spread. Perhaps we’re even guilty of helping to empty them. If you’re going to shop for supplies, buy just a little extra to give away to families who don’t have the resources to stock their own pantries. Create supply baskets. Spend the extra time to hunt down the toilet paper for the family in need. Deliver it either in secret or in-person (keeping proper distancing!). These supplies will be an incredible blessing and encouragement to people who may have begun to worry about how they would find food to feed their family or supplies to keep their household running.
2) Cook some extra meals.
If your pantry is filled with food, cook a few extra meals and deliver them to those who have less than you do. Many of those families, if they’re still able to work, may not have time to get to the store and are faced with challenges to get dinner on the table. With many restaurants closing their doors, they are in a particularly difficult situation. A hot, home-cooked meal will brighten their day and show them you care and are willing to serve. Simply doubling your recipe will make a big difference in someone’s life today.
3) Pay someone’s electric bill.
Pay for their cable TV. Cover the cost of their internet. Buy a family a gift certificate to the grocery store. Providing for actual cash needs during times of crisis are practical and sometimes the most needed. While food fills the stomachs, sometimes people need help in keeping the lights on, the heat on, or their entertainment going if they’re sequestered at home for a long time. The last thing many people need in addition to their financial pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening letters from the utility companies promising to discontinue their service. It will be a humbling experience for many people, but pray that they will accept your help. It will build your relationship in the long run and help them in a critical time by serving a critical need.
4) Employ someone.
Are you a small business owner? Are you in charge of hiring at your corporation? Can you add an employee to your service industry company? Find those who are hardworking and in need of extra income and hire them. Most people are willing to work for the money they earn and will be glad for the employment while they wait to get back on their feet. Gainful employment is a mark of respect in life. Your willingness to hire people in need will build them up and build God’s Kingdom into their life. It will make a deep spiritual impact in them that simply attending another church service may not do.
5) Point people to state or federal resources.
Although the state and federal governments are at present scrambling to provide the resources needed to fight the COVID-19 virus, there are still some social programs available for those with the most desperate needs. Point people to food banks and provisional programs. Direct people to the internet companies that are providing free internet for children home from school and faced with distance learning. A little time on our part doing research can help people who do not have the resources to discover these things on their own. Take the initiative to help serve them so they are more likely to procure the things that will help them the most.
People who are in need often face isolation because they are embarrassed or ashamed of their desperate situation. This is definitely not the time for them to feel isolated. They need our love and support to help get them through these tough times. Take time to reach out to them by phone, text, or video chat. Try to include them in your everyday. Ask about their day or about their children. Ask them what they need. Encourage them with a positive spirit. Remind them that God will provide and is with them. Be their faithful friend.
7) Pray for them.
If we can do nothing else to help serve people in need during times of crisis, we can certainly pray for them. We can do this privately or by letting them know. We can pray generally for them or we can ask them about their deepest prayer needs. Schedule your prayer for them or scatter it throughout the coming days or weeks. Whatever we do, however, we must keep them in our prayers and lift them up before the Lord. In His hand, they will be protected and He will provide for them during the COVID-19 pandemic. He knows their needs even more deeply than we ever could. Let’s commit our friends in need to God Almighty and let Him help them and inspire us in our attempts to help them in practical ways.
Your Church and the Coronavirus: Supporting Local Ministry During the COVID-19 Pandemic