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07.12.2020

United against Covid-19 in Indonesia

Example photo: Here, employees of the GKPI church distribute food in the surrounding villages. (Photo: GKPI)

Covid-19 continues to spread around the globe. Before the Indonesian government issued decrees restricting social contacts to prevent more people from becoming infected with the virus, over 41,400 people in 36 Indonesian provinces had become infected and 2,276 people had died by June 18, 2020. The problem is that not all people are able to comply with these corona protection regulations, especially people from the middle and low income groups. Life goes on and people have basic daily needs. Therefore it is not easy to simply stay at home. On the other hand, the Indonesian economy has been hit hard. Factories have closed; many workers have been laid off or at least taken unpaid leave. As a result, many of them are at greater risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus further.

The Christian Church in Indonesia (HKI) is like one big family. It helps people from economically weak backgrounds who are in need because of Covid-19. Since most HKI members belong to low-income families, there are many who need help due to Covid-19 restrictions. About 50,000 families in villages or towns alone need help with daily staple foods. The church has received 40,000 euros from the United Evangelical Mission's relief fund, which now benefits these people.

The church distributes basic foodstuffs to needy people

The specially founded "HKI Peduli Covid 19 Center" coordinates the allocation of project funds. The center evaluates the measures and determines how they can be sensibly implemented so that the aid reaches those who need it most. For example, the Peduli Center distributes basic foodstuffs to needy people and works closely with pastors* and church staff in the respective HKI parishes. "In May, we distributed 2,000 packages of staple foods such as rice, cooking oil, noodles, milk, sugar, vitamins for people in need in Pematangsiantar, Simalungun, Tobasa and Medan. We also put masks into the parcels, which were sewn by women, men and people with disabilities from the HKI's vocational training center," emphasizes HKI General Secretary Pastor Dr. Batara Sihombing. This not only practiced charity, but also strengthened the community economically. "We also help non-Christians who live near the HKI Synod Office - regardless of their religion or origin. And we also support hungry brothers and sisters who steal food out of necessity in order to survive," Sihombing continued.

The church tries to stem the spread of Covid-19

In order to contain a further spread of the corona virus, Sunday services for families have no longer been celebrated in church since 22 March, but digitally. The new digital format is called "worship in a livestream". The service for Sunday school children looks like this: "We give them a message to strengthen them. We remind them to be patient, stay at home, wash their hands, avoid crowds, not kiss and shake hands for a while and live in God," says Pastor Batara Sihombing.

The HKI is initiating educational campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of Covid-19. Together with young adults of different religions, the young people of the HKI disinfect not only the Protestant churches, but also other religious places such as mosques and temples, the Mamre Orphanage of the Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia (GKPI) and the Elim Orphanage of the Christian Protestant Toba Batak Church (HKBP). "With these activities we want to raise people's awareness and make it clear to them that we have to work together and stick together," said Sihombing. The project also enhances the good interreligious relations between Protestant churches and other religions.

Pastoral aid and advocacy

Church members who are infected with the Corona virus receive pastoral care. The HKI has formed prayer teams to strengthen community and build a sense of solidarity. The church now also enables its church members to make phone calls via the Internet and provides contact persons with whom people can talk about their problems. And it has formed an advocacy team to provide advocacy and help church members claim their rights.

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