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       by Pastor Iris Picardal

Amidst the pandemic & crisis the world is facing due to the threat that COVID-19 brings, each country is finding ways to “lower the curve” & hopefully end the spread of infection among the people. The Philippine government right now has declared the country a State of Calamity & government officials are mandated to do the necessary actions in order to defeat the coronavirus.

Tacloban City, where the Light & Life Community United Methodist Church (LLCUMC) is located, is on Enhanced Community Quarantine its 2nd week already. This will hopefully end by April 14, 2020. The role of the community in this fight against the virus is to “Stay at Home” – thus we are asked to work at home. Unfortunately, many are forced to stop working altogether during this quarantine period due to their type of work.

The main concern of the church members & indigents in the community is the lack of food supply, since most who do not work also do not get paid.

The government has mandated local government units (LGU) to distribute food packs to affected families – but until now the LGU has not distributed anything in our church community. Some fathers of the church this week had to catch what little mud fish the church fish pond has in order to feed their families. There is a saying now that “We will not die of covid-19, but of hunger.”

Being a small church & having lack of funds, the LLCUMC churchworker asked the Disaster Risk Response Management Team (UMCOR affiliated) of the bishop’s office if there might also be an ” emergency response fund,” just as what the government has on this concern. Unfortunately the response was, “we have not arrived to this level yet.” Currently, the existing program is still training to help communities make Action Plan & DANA to address disasters.

As the associate pastor, I reached out to a cousin’s wife, who gave 10kgs rice & then also referred LLCUMC’s concern to their church – the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Thank God – the UCCP gave us the excess relief goods they gave to their outreach churches. 

Relief goods were given to 30 families each with a pack containing 1/2kg rice, 3 canned goods & 1 pack noodles. The LGU just kept on announcing to be patient & wait. With it being the 2nd week of the lockdown, the church & indigents of the community are praying for the LGU to distribute the food packs to the most affected families within the week.

On Sunday Worship Services – LLCUMC posts the liturgy guide & also has a Facebook live worship with just 3 to 5 individuals in the church practicing social distancing & the rest of the church members worshiping in their homes. The bishop’s office has a call to prayer movement against covid-19 at 9am & 6pm every day.

Still amidst all of this, the church is hopeful and thankful to God since there is only 1 confirmed covid-19 positive patient in the region & the patient is now recovering. Hopefully numbers won’t increase & everyone will cooperate to stay at home so the virus will be defeated, in Jesus’ mighty name, and the community quarantine/lockdown will finally be lifted up.

Editor’s Note: Pastor Iris Picardal is volunteering as a humanitarian communicator with Harper Hill Global to better serve her surrounding community. If you would like to support this potentially life-saving work, donate now.