The world has come to a complete stop, hasn’t it? Or, has it? While some are still resisting, others are hunkered down for the long haul. Just like that, everything we once knew has been stripped away, or at least has been distanced from us for an undetermined length of time. What I just said is profound if you really stop and think about it. ‘Everything we once knew.’ So what is that then? What is it that is in our culture that we had become so familiar with that it makes what is most familiar seem so foreign? We have been continually distracted by jam-packed days of activities and distractions and now we feel weird not having them. To me, this is truly something to consider deeply.
At Light & Salt Ministries we are currently up against some very uneasy and difficult decisions, as are you. Some of those decisions are of the same nature as yours, and some are very different. For instance, the country and the governors of Nicaragua are acting like nothing has happened. There are no “red lights”, no warnings, and no perimeters of caution. ‘Fully speed
ahead in peace and solidarity’ says the chief commander as all government workers in both Managua and smaller communities alike are called to a massive open-air march through the streets against COVID-19. This is happening, of course, while the rest of the world eats, lives, and breathes social distancing.
The statistics in Nicaragua are a little alarming. As per CNN the other night on the news, we have 19 hospitals countrywide, amounting to less than 1 bed per 1000 habitants, and 80% of the country’s working ventilators are already in use with existing, non-COVID-19 cases. That makes our capacity to contain or treat an epidemic like the one we are seeing a big fat ZERO.
I was encouraged by what I read this morning in Judges 8. Gideon goes out to conquer the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna. As he goes by Succoth, he asks the men of the city to give bread to his men for they were exhausted. Their reply, as if to mock Gideon, was “Well, are the hands of Zebath and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?” So Gideon went on. As he came to the men of Penuel, he made the same request of them. “Give bread to my army for they are exhausted, we are in pursuit of the kings of Midian.” He was met with the same mocking reply as if to say, prove to us that you are worth it; prove to us that you have already won and know what you are going to do. Why should we
give you anything? Why would we invest in your army and waste our bread?
This very thing is on the table for the family of LASM to consider right now. What will we do as we confront the threat of COVID-19? How will we succeed in continuing to serve our families through this? How will we serve without putting them or ourselves at risk of a viral and possibly deadly infection? And, why should people continue to invest in us? Do we even know what we are going to do?
For the first week, admittedly our answer would have had to have been “no”. We had not a clue as to what we could do. But by the beginning of the second week our answer was, “yes,” praise God! Just as Gideon was able to go on and make a battle plan, and then went back to rebuttal their rebuke, we too have come to have the battle plan for this time and are delighted
to share it.
The team at Light & Salt Ministries is suiting up to take our programs to the television! Yes, you heard right. Every one of our families has a television, with the possible exception of one, so we are going to meet them where they are, without need of going out the door. Bible classes and values training for the students will be shown live on both channel 19 (Christian audience) and channel 21 (general audience) at 11am, three times a week while art class and English class will be broadcast 2 times a week.
We are also working on getting our local grocer set up with a list and weekly handout program. Each family will be able to pick up what their child would have usually eaten at the center during breakfast, lunch and/or supper so they do not lose out on their regular meals and nutrition.
For us, as is with most of the world right now, mental health is a huge concern. For that, we will be making use of our cell phones by creating a weekly check in call to our families. This will allow us to pray with them and also to follow up on the television lessons to see how much they’ve captured. A second Facebook page will be created for locals, too, where they can find our daily program for the boys, sewing ladies and other inspirational videos to help them through these times of uncertainty and concern.
It’s quite wonderful how all of the questions that were turning in our heads just days ago have now led to our mini promotion! That is definitely how God works things, and now our reach will be too many, many more families than the regular 80+ we have weekly. In the midst of this difficulty God is using the situation for good!
We have reorganized our Mercy in Action program to involve delivery of provisions (beans, rice, and oil) to the destitute and disabled rather than having them pick up these things at the centre. They will get a delivery every 2 weeks that includes what they need for the next two weeks. We feel this is best as it limits their exposure to the virus in allowing them to stay in,
while at the same time reducing our own contact and exposure. These participants are truly some of the most vulnerable here in the area, and we want to do our best to protect them in ways that we can while continuing to serve them.
Please be ensured that we are praying for you and keeping you in mind, especially those who have lost jobs or face unemployment, those who live alone, those who have a loved one that they are not able to visit at this time, and anyone else who is struggling with the anxiety this new situation brings us. Please also be ensured that with your continued support, the beneficiaries of LASM are still being attended to, just in a different way. This has forced us all to think outside of the box, to re-evaluate what is important, and to hold on to our loved ones just a little tighter.
The world and everything within it shall pass away. What a really good time for all of us to hit our reset buttons.
With so much love,