Covid19 in the Margins

In these “unprecedented times” (gosh, I’m so sick of hearing those words), I have way too many thoughts. So if I get to catch your attention on one topic, what do I want it to be? Do I want to write about politics and disparities of social class and color that Covid19 is exposing? Do I want to write about hope in God through this mess? Do I want to write about the people who’ve been encouraging me and helping me think differently during this pandemic and global shutdown? Do I want to play nice for fear of others not liking the truth that I have to say and knowing they’ll think I’m being judgmental? Do I want to love people well with the love that I’ve received? I want to do all of it. But right now, I’ll pick one.

line of Colombians already displaced from their homes due to trafficking and gangs
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The one that dominates my heart and mind on a daily basis. I can’t think beyond my friends in other countries who are hungry. I am humbly asking you to stick with me and read what my friends in India, Nepal, Colombia, and Thailand have to say. I am begging you to read their words, not mine, and consider how you can love a face and person you’ve never met simply because they are human. And if you live in a home, have a meal on the regular, and can change your clothes daily, I’m asking you to consider how you can help those who don’t. If you won what the late Rachel Held Evans calls the “cosmic lottery” of the fortune you were born into compared to most of the world, please keep reading.

In the past 2 weeks, I have received numerous messages from friends around the world. Friends in need. Humbly requesting I or my church send them money. They don’t do this to bother me or because they think I am a wealthy American or that churches are rich (but if you look at our buildings and resources, I’m inclined to think… ummm, yeah they are!). They do this because they are hungry. Desperate. They’ve done everything else they can manage to do on their own. And have exhausted all possible resources of their immediate community in their country. But they also know that we are interdependent people who need each other (even if we Americans grew up with the false narrative that we are independent, can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and don’t need anyone. That works… until it doesn’t.) They write to me because they know that those of us who call ourselves Christians are their family and those of us who don’t regard ourselves with that title still have a heart and care about people. Their common message of hunger is heart-breaking. And I don’t mean waiting-in-a-long-line-at-the-food-bank type of hunger when you know there is an assistance program of some sort to provide food. I don’t mean food-program-from-school type of hunger. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these aren’t real and a cause for empathy. I work at these schools. I get it.) But I mean… people starving. Wasting away. Skin and bones. Pregnant women who are malnourished. Desperate and turning to whatever means to either feel “full” or numb the pain as they starve. As they just need a scoop of rice. Rice. One scoop. That’s all.

I’m sharing with you and invite you to read only excerpts of four of the many messages I’ve received in recent weeks.

I got this message from a pastor and friend I met in Nepal in 2012. We still keep in contact from time to time. He sent me this… “Hi Suzanne. How are you and your family? World is trouble. Corona same thing in Nepal to every thing is closed fully locked down not victim more people but big problem in economics sector. I has doing continue 7 years ministry as a Pastor in Kathmandu Nepal. I mean here in Nepal many people are trouble for food same case in church believers if you can help this difficult situation we also helps some rice this people who have no rice please don’t think negative we can share God love this people. You can join us this love you can talk your Church or any helping hand thank you, I wait your response…”

From the pastor I worked with in India who is the only Christian pastor in his area and tirelessly goes from churches to houses all over because he is the only one: “Thank you so much for your good responding. In India totally lock down to covid. We stay in home.  No churches. No gospel. Only worship in our home. Pastors face to so many financial problems because no offerings no visitings please pray for our needs and our ministries this lockdown continues month of April.”

My friend in Thailand who ran a coffee shop and restaurant with the sole purpose of employing women she helped rescue from sex trafficking (who was instrumental in my life in one of my hardest experiences I’ve ever faced) sent me this message: “Dear Suzanne. I hope this message find you doing well. I am so humble to write this message to you to ask for prayer request for my situation, as the covid19 virus has spread all over the world and Thailand has effected as well as many country in the world. Our family is also so much impacted by this situation that we are now got to the worse case of struggle that we are desperately need some help… The struggle is getting worse and sometimes I’m wondering if God still hear me at all now. Wondering if all the miracles that happen in the past still can happen to me now. So I’m stepping out by faith again my writing to you, ask for favor and help. In this corona virus situation, the banks do not give out loan, and there are no other way to get financial help so only is God is our sources so I’m writing this email to look for help from family in Christ like you… Please pray with me and please do whatever you can to help me out during this hard season of my life.”

And these words, I listened to my missionary friend in Colombia who leads the charge with Ciudad Refugio (http://www.ciudadrefigio.org) into a part of Medellin inhabited by people who have already been displaced from their own homes say in a message to me: “There’s a lot of hungry people in Colombia. So just pray for that, that we would be able to find families that really have need and not receiving any other support and not just the families that are asking. And that God would keep us safe. I pray for health for myself and for (her daughter’s name). Or if I get sick that I would be able to recover. But yeah, a lot of hungry people in Colombia. That’s going to get a lot worse because of the quarantine. I’m actually more concerned about the people that are gonna die from hunger or the effects of hunger and the violence that’s going to potentially start happening because people are hungry. They need to work. They need money. They need food.” 

As I type these messages, I am bawling my eyes out, again. There is enough food in the world for my friends and their communities NOT to die. We just have to help get it into the hands of people. And without physically taking it there ourselves, what we can do is send money. My friends are writing to me not only for themselves, but on behalf of their communities who they will certainly share with. Because that is what these cultures value and who they share with. I’ve never written this type of blog/request in my life. It’s usually just my rantings and thoughts and lessons I’m learning. But I am desperately asking you to consider, on behalf of my friends and the communities that they want to help, on behalf of the faces our American media is not showing (shame on them!), financially donating any amount that you can to any one of these people and their communities they will help.

You can find me on venmo (@Suzanne-Bradford) and let me know if there is a specific country you’d like me to send money to. From the Dominican Republic to Haiti, Colombia, Thailand, India, Nepal, Philippines, and South Africa. Or you can just give and I’ll get it into hands that need it. Thank you. 

Stay safe. And also take care of yourselves and your own loved ones.

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