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  • Prayer Alert

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Der UEM Prayer Alert stellt aktuelle Gebetsanliegen aus den Mitgliedskirchen der VEM vor. Er informiert über Ereignisse und Situationen aus der Sicht unserer Glaubensgeschwister vor Ort und lädt zum Mitbeten in einer weltweiten Gemeinschaft ein. Der Prayer Alert erscheint unregelmäßig, je nach Bedarf auf Facebook und per E-Mail.

Hier können Sie den UEM Prayer Alert per E-Mail abonnieren: gospel[at]vemission.org.

Haben Sie ein Gebetsanliegen? Dann senden Sie uns eine Nachricht an: gospel[at]vemission.org.

Lesen Sie nachstehend unsere neuesten Prayer Alerts (englischer Originaltext)

  • Prayer Alert - September 25, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    After the long alert of last week, this one is going to be short.

    The main prayer request this week comes from the German churches: As we reported before, the churches are involved in sending a rescue ship to the Mediterranean to save people trying to flee to Europe on non-seaworthy little boats. This rescue ship, the Seawatch 4, is now being held by the Italian government and prevented from fulfilling its mission under alleged violations of equipment rules. The churches in Germany have been calling for the release of this boat, and for a commitment of the European Union to save people from drowning in the Mediterranean.

    This week, the European Union is also discussing a new structure of its general policy towards refugees. To many observers, the planned steps look like Europe is closing its borders even more firmly against people in need.

    Church organizations including the World Council of Churches, the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Methodist Council, the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Europe and the Holy See have called on the EU to change their policies towards refugees: "Solidarity should be the guiding principle governing migration and particularly refugee reception," the statement says. "We expect the EU to reject the discourse and politics of fear and deterrence, and to adopt a principled stance and compassionate practice based on the fundamental values on which the EU is founded."

    Please pray for political leaders in Europe that they find the courage to show compassion with refugees. Please pray that God will soften the hearts of those who fear and hate people fleeing from war and hunger. Please pray that Europe will find ways to accommodate refugees and make them welcome.

    Please also pray for Indonesia, where the number of COVID-10 infections is rising rapidly. Jakarta has been under large-scale social restrictions since September 14, and these measures were just extended for another two weeks.

    May our God who became a refugee himself in Jesus Christ bless you richly.


  • Prayer Alert - September 21, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    After a week’s interruption, our prayer alert this week is long and full of information from many member churches. Thank you all for taking these issues up in your prayers!

    Today our first focus is on the COVID-19 situation, and particularly the situation in the African Region.

    Rwanda:

    The President of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Dr Pascal Bataringaya, reports:

    “The number of Covid-19 positive cases is increasing progressively. The current period is worse. This is illustrated by the fact that in these last days the number of new cases was varying between 150 and 250 persons a day. Today, the number of positive cases is 2,105. The lockdown is still applied in some districts of South West (also areas where EAR Cyangugu and EAR Kigeme Dioceses operate) and different public places of Kigali, the capital city. Big markets in Kigali have been closed again for a certain period while testing the users of these markets. All employers are encouraged to have only essential personnel, not exceeding 50 percent of the entire staff to report to work.  While all schools are still closed, a few number of churches are supposed to re-open with condition of being able to observe preventive measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus. According to the inspection regarding the established requirements, only few churches countrywide are allowed to accommodate worship services. With this situation a large number of people is economically affected”.

    The recent newsletter of the partnership between Moers/Germany and Rwanda adds some information:

    • Masks must be worn throughout the country as soon as one leaves the house.
    • There is a nightly curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
    • Travel between the provinces in the country is not allowed.
    • On markets, only every second stall is allowed to open on alternate days. This means that stall holders can only open half of the time, which means a vastly reduced income.
    • Schools and universities, which were supposed to be opened in September, will be closed until the end of the year. Universities offer online courses, but these are not accessible to most students who lack computers and internet connections.
    • Food prices have gone up, and the harvest is at risk due to unusual heat and drought. Malnutrition and hunger are on the rise.

    Marcel Sebahire from the Anglican Church writes:

    On July 19, 2020, the first places of worship were reopened and people were excited to enter the churches after more than three months without going there. The process of reopening churches was quite slow but progressive and guided by extremely tough requirements to be met before getting the license to reopen and the idea behind this slow reopening was to keep restraining the spread of the pandemic.

    Shyogwe Diocese has got 115 operating places of worship in total and currently only 7 Places are reopened. The percentage of reopened places of worship in Shyogwe Diocese is 6.08%. So, this figure interprets the current situation of Shyogwe Diocese as follows:  The parishioners are still struggling to meet the reopening requirements and the pastors and church workers are facing financial problems with most church activities curtailed. The Diocese is now in a great need of creating and innovating new ways and methodologies to reach its members .The church needs to develop the maximum use of online facilities, though it is quite expensive and not popular here.  We all pray that the God’s perfect timing, for COVID-19 to Pass, will come quickly and return things to normal. AMEN

     

    Now to other countries on the African continent:

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana (ELCB)

    Bishop Mothusi J. Letlhage reports that due to Coronavirus all schools were closed from 20 March but teaching resumed on 2 June 2020. It has now become obvious, though, that there is an almost 2% infection rate in schools. Let us pray for schools to be enabled to remain open and to adopt correctly and consistently actions to slow the spread of Covid-19 not only inside the schools, but also in the community.  Success in preventing the introduction and subsequent transmission of Coronavirus in schools is connected to and dependent upon preventing transmission in communities.

     

    Democratic Republic of Congo

    The Baptist Church in the Centre of Africa, CBCA:

    Pray for community health in North, East and South Kivu of the DRC. The CBCA President, Rev Dr Ngayihembako Samuel reports that the Covid-19 infection rate increases highly, particularly in the city of Butembo (a commercial town in North Kivu) where a number of the community members passed away due to Covid-19. The human social and economic connections between Goma (the main city of Eastern Congo) and Butembo are feared to bring more infected cases in both cities.

    The Church of Christ in Congo (ECC):

    Rev. Moses GBEMA, the Cabinet Director of the ECC National President shares the following Prayer topics for ECC: Please pray for

    1. The end of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restoration of all sectors of national life affected by it.

    2. The restoration of peace throughout the DRC and especially the Provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri where populations are victims of large-scale and repeated massacres of armed groups in the indifference of the international community.

    3. Sociopolitical stability for the interests of the Congolese population who live in a worrying dehumanizing precariousness.

    Equateur Region, Mbandaka City:

    Rev. Dr Marthe Maleke Kondemo, the regional Evangelism Contact Person, reported in a Zoom call this morning that violence is increasing in the city, with armed gangs committing many robberies. Cases of Ebola infection are on the rise, and two members of the head office of the CDCC (Comunauté des Disciples du Christ au Congo) have been tested positive with COVID-19. Food prices are increasing while people’s incomes are falling. Please pray for healing of the sick, strengthening of faith for those trying to solve all these problems, and hope for all believers that things can improve.

     

    The Evangelical Church of Cameroon (EEC):

    Let us pray for the church in their efforts for the awaited important milestone in the church’s drive towards peace and reconciliation.

    The former Church President, Rev. Dr. Charles Emmanuel Njike is working hard to organize an extraordinary reconciliatory EEC General Synod to be held during the first week of October 2020. All leaders of all categories, church members, elders are contacted and being called for unity and reconciliation within their Church. Let us pray for unity and oneness in the EEC.

    Project Officer, Mr Elie Leuwe reports : “ Few weeks ago, a delegation led by the Evangelical Church of Cameroon General President, Rev. Prof.  Jean Samuel Hendje Toya visited EEC synod regions in order to concretely express the church's solidarity with widows and retired workers. During this tour, the delegation was able to physically witness the sufferings of the beneficiaries especially in these COVID-19-stricken times. From UEM support, each beneficiary received a package made of face-masks, a 50kg-bag of rice, bottles of cooking oil, soap cubes, a 1-kg bag of cooking salt, sensitization flyers on COVID-19 as well as a 2-month pension allowance. It may be recalled that all EEC parishes have been closed since March 2020, because of the pandemic, and the financial resources that used to come from the grassroots parishes towards the head office have come to a halt”. We would appreciate that the UEM Communion include EEC communities and people in need - and other sister churches- in her prayers.

     

    Tanzania: East and Coastal Diocese, Karagwe Diocese, North West Diocese and North East Diocese

    Rev. Dr Ernest Kadiva, the UEM Co-worker in the Regional Office in Dar Es Salaam contacted UEM members in Tanzania and shared this prayer request:

    We pray for Tanzania’s general election for president, members of parliament and local councilors which will be held on October 28th, 2020.

    The political campaigns kicked off on August 26th and will end on October 27th, 2020. We pray for tolerance during this time of campaigns, we pray for just, free, and fair polls/elections. We pray that there is no spirit of vengeance or retaliation after the elections. We pray for peace and tranquility, harmony, widening of democracy, and freedom of press. We pray for the Tanzania's election commission to do justice in counting and announcing the results. We pray against fears, climate of violence and intimidation. 

     

    Good news come from Southern Africa.

    Rev. Pieter Grove writes from the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA):

    South Africa is moving to level 1 of lockdown (the lowest). We trust that the control of the virus will be maintained.

    Rev. Stephen Pedro adds: 100 people are now allowed at church funerals. Places of worship may be filled to 50%, up to 250 persons. Masking and hygiene protocols continue in public places.

    Namibia

    The state of emergency in the country was finally lifted this week after six months, as COVID-19 infection numbers continue to drop. The president of the country has called on the citizens to maintain vigilance to avoid a second wave.

     

    And now to Indonesia, with reports from several Evangelism Contact Persons, collected in a Zoom conference this morning:

    Indonesia continues to have rising numbers of COVID-19 infections all over the country. Even remote areas like Nias or Mentawai are reporting rapid increases.

    On Nias, schools have been closed down. Rural churches continue to function, but churches in the capital city of Gunung Sitoli have been closed. The economic impact is severe in this poor region, and was exacerbated by flooding in some areas.

    On Mentawai, churches will be closed this Sunday to check the spread of infections.

    Some areas on Java have been locked down due to local clusters of COVID-19.

    In Sumatra, police comes to churches on Sundays to make sure that everybody keeps to the distancing and hygiene rules.

    In Papua, one pastor and four elders of the GKI-TP have died of COVID-19. The church head office was closed for three days this week as several office workers tested positive. In Jayapura, churches will be closed this Sunday, while rural churches continue to worship normally.

     

    In Germany, the number of COVID-19 infections is rising slowly but continuously, but except for some local places with infection clusters, life continues under the new normal. Churches are open for worship with strict distancing, masks and no singing. Schools operate normally on the whole, even though some are closed down when infections are detected.

    There are major new outbreaks in many European countries, and Germans are now warned not to travel to many neighboring countries.

    A big prayer concern of the German churches is the situation on Lesbos island/Greece, where the Moria refugee camp which housed more than 12,000 people burnt down 10 days ago. Since then, most refugees have been sleeping rough on streets or in olive orchards; there is little food and water, and hygiene is almost impossible. Many people in Germany, including some state governors, many city mayors and the leaders of all major churches, are calling for all of these refugees to be brought to Germany, but the national government is only willing to take 1,500, with no solution in sight for the rest of the homeless refugees. Please pray that God will soften the hearts of those who make decisions so that places of refuge can be found for all refugees on the Greek islands.

     

    A prayer with words from Psalm 38 and Psalm 42:

    Eternal One, all my longing is known to you,

    My sighing is not hidden from you.

    Do not forsake me, o Eternal One!

    O my God, be not far from me!

    Make haste to help me,

    O Eternal One, my salvation!

    Why are you cast down, o my soul?

    And why are you disquieted within me?

    Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,

    My help and my God.

  • Prayer Alert - September 4, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brother,

    Today, we ask you to focus your prayers on the DR Congo, particularly the South Kivu Region.

    We have been alerted to massive and credible threats against the life of Dr. Denis Mukwege who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. Dr. Mukwege is a gynecologist and director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, and also a preacher in his local congregation of the Community of Pentecostal Churches in Central Africa (CEPAC).

    Dr. Mukwege, who has become well-known for his work treating women who were sexually assaulted, had called for instigators of violence in the Southern Kivu to be brought to justice. The Church of Christ in Congo has called for Dr. Mukwege to be protected not only by the civil and military authorities, but also by MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping troops in the area.

    Please pray for the protection of Dr. Mukwege and also for the protection of Panzi Hospital and the many women who are being treated there. Please also pray for peace in the Southern Kivu area.

     

    Please give thanks to God for the city of Palermo in Italy which has agreed to take in the 354 refugees who were rescued by the Seawatch 4, the rescue vessel sent by Christians and churches in Germany. We also give thanks for the British artist Banksy who has outfitted and sent a second rescue vessel to the Mediterranean. Please ask God to bless the people of Palermo who have shown mercy, and to bless and strengthen the refugees who now have to build a new life in a foreign country.

     

    COVID-19:

    Please pray for Indonesia and the Philippines. Both countries continue to report high numbers of new infections every day. Please pray for the churches working under difficult and lockdown conditions, and for all the people whose livelihood is threatened by the disease and the measures to fight it.

    Please also pray for the churches in Rwanda. With tough government regulations, only a minority of buildings could so far be re-opened for worship.

     

    A prayer from Pakistan:

    O God, creator and all-powerful,

    You have promised strength to the weak,

    Times of rest to the workers,

    Light for our path,

    Grace for those who have been accused,

    Help from above,

    Never-ending love.

    O God, creator and all-powerful,

    Help us to walk our path

    Trusting your promises.

    Amen.

    Please note that the next UEM Prayer Alert will be sent out on September 18.

  • Prayer Alert - August 28, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Two weeks ago, this prayer alert informed you about the rescue vessel Seawatch 4 which was financed by Christians and churches from Germany to save refugees in the Mediterranean. As of this week, this boat has already rescued more than 200 people from small boats, many of them sick and/or injured by leaking fuel. The crew is now trying to find a harbor in the European Union that will allow these people to be processed as refugees, but so far without any success. Please pray that God will soften the hearts of politicians and take away their fear of racist backlashes, so that they will allow these men, women and children to start a new life in a safe place. Please pray that wherever these refugees will end up, they will be made welcome.

     

    COVID-19:

    Let us give thanks:

    • For the slowing of the outbreak in Africa, as the WHO reports:

    The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in the WHO African Region has continued to slow down, as seen in the past two weeks. Since our last External Situation Report 24 issued on 12 August 2020, a total of 56 508 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2 071 new deaths were reported. This is a 25% decrease in cases as compared to the previous reporting period (5 - 11 August 2020). Although South Africa reported majority of the new cases, it also continues to record a remarkable downward trajectory in trend with 42% fewer cases. Downward trends are seen in the DR Congo and Cameroon as well.

    • For children who act in creative solidarity:

    In Wuppertal, two 10-year old girls organized a small flea market in their backyard. In temperatures reaching 35 degrees centigrade, they raised 200 Euro for UEM’s United Against COVID-19 program.

     

    Let us pray for the Philippines, Indonesia, Namibia and Rwanda where the number of new confirmed cases is increasing.

    Newspaper reports describe how badly the poor, and particularly slum dwellers, have been hit by lockdown measures in the Philippines. Many of them have lost their jobs; unemployment may be as high as 45% in the country. The cutting of all long distance traffic has stranded thousands in Manila. People who may have houses and some land outside of the metropolis cannot get there and are reduced to living in the streets of the capital and begging.

     

    And for all of us, a prayer lifted from Facebook this week:

  • Prayer Alert - August 21, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today we ask you to especially pray for the Philippines.

    On 17 August, Zara Alvarez, a 39-nine year old human rights activist, was shot dead in Bacalod City, Negros. Zara, who was well known to many in UEM, had received threats for many years. She was labelled as a terrorist, and between 2012 and 2014, she was detained under false accusations. Though free again, she was continually harassed and threatened, living under enormous pressure until she was murdered this week. Zara is survived by a young daughter.

    We are deeply shocked about this killing and condemn this ruthless crime.

    We ask you for prayers for the family and friends of Zara Alvarez, that God will strengthen, comfort and protect them.

     

    On August 13, “Wanted” posters appeared in Davao City, naming nine persons, among them UCCP Bishop Hamuel G. Tequis, as suspected communists. In another recent incident, Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza and Rev. Irma Balaba of the UCCP were named as communists on a widely spread Philippine Facebook page. This so-called “red-tagging” is seen as a call to vigilante groups to threaten and kill the persons named, and it has also been happening to lay members of the UCCP who are active in NGOs.

    The UCCP through the Council of Bishops has issued a statement of condemnation on this trend that government military officers are using to harass and persecute the church. The UCCP Jurisdictional officers conduct dialogues with government officials and military commanders to stop this. 

    Please pray for the church workers and Bishops who have been labelled as terrorists by the government and fear for their lives. May God strengthen and protect them! And please pray for the ongoing dialogues, that God will change the hearts of those who are persecuting the church.

     

    We also ask your prayers for the villagers living in the vicinity of the Sinabung volcano in North Sumatra, and for the church people who are assisting them. Rev. Agustinus P. Purba, Ephorus of the Karo Batak Church (GBKP) writes:

    The latest situation related to the eruption of Sinabung recently is still difficult. There is no one living in the shelter anymore since our government has provided the new relocation places for displaced people from Sinabung.

    But the problem now faced by the surrounding community is the damage of agricultural lands. All the crops have failed because they were covered by the thick ashes of Sinabung. In the midst of the Covid - 19 pandemic, the only hope and expectation of the community is from the agricultural products, but now there will be no harvest. This will seriously worsen the economic crisis already faced by the community surrounding Sinabung.

    Please pray that God will strengthen Karo people in facing this hard situation. Luckily, there is no more wave of evacuation, and people need not live in a shelter in this pandemic of COVID-19.

    Thank you for your kind attention and prayer.

     

     

    COVID-19:

    Rev. Mark Beukes writes from Namibia: Walvisbay is no longer the epicentre but Windhoek. We have a decline in positive cases for the whole week already and in Windhoek and the rest of the country, especially in Windhoek there is a drastic increase in positive cases which is of big concern. Next week Friday the president will have to give new directions since the whole country is now in stage 3. The discussion on the situation of schools are on. The question is must the school year be cancelled or not. Walvisbay, Swakopmund and Arandis had their last school for pre-school to grade 9 on the 20th of March. Ever since they had no school. Grade 10-12 started the one after the other with grade 10 now in some schools back since one week. It is a scary situation.

     

    Rev. Dr. Marthe Maleke Kondemo, Evangelism Contact Person in Equateur/DR Congo, reminds us not only to pray for the victims of COVID-19, but also to pray for healing for those suffering from Ebola, Malaria, and other infectious diseases.

     

    Excerpts from “Summer Psalm” by Hanns Dieter Hüsch

     

    We pray for silent months.

    That God, our Lord, will take the shouting from the world

    And decree silence.

    That includes that he will take the weapons from the hands of the warriors.

    And that he will take away the hopelessness of those without jobs.

    That he will not allow the mighty to become Mafiosi.

    May God, our Lord, bless this silence.

    Lord, we urge you: Do it!

    Allow our hearts to breathe

    And our eyes to calm down

    And our ears to listen properly.

    And again we ask our Lord

    To bless this our prayer everywhere and immediately

    Because it is needed right now and for evermore.

    Thank you and Amen.

     

  • Prayer Alert - August 14, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    In addition to COVID-19, there are many other issues which need our prayers.

    Today, I would like to begin with Germany:

    The rescue ship Sea-Watch 4, purchased by a crowdfund led by the Evangelical Church in Germany, is starting to operate today in the Mediterranean Sea to help migrants attempting to reach Europe from North Africa.

    Sea-Watch 4 is to set sail from the Spanish Burriana, less than one year after a petition was published by the 12th Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany asking the church council to continue to campaign for sea rescue, communal reception, safe escape routes, fair asylum procedures and legal migration opportunities.

    “We ask for God’s blessing on the crew of Sea-Watch 4 and on their important mission. May each of us, too, become a vessel of hope and instruments of peace for our neighbours,” said Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, interim general secretary of the World Council of Churches.

    With work to convert the old research vessel into a sea rescue ship completed, the crew can finally set out to their first mission. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown in Spain, it was delayed almost four months.

    Since the end of all state-sponsored rescue operations, only private ships have been sailing in the Mediterranean to rescue people who have fled from distress at sea. It is estimated that around 400 people have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2020. Such reality hurts many Christians.

    “One does not let any single human drown, period,” said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairperson of the Evangelical Church in Germany, during the ceremony that launched the mission last February, in the city of Kiel.

    The fundraising efforts that enable Sea-Watch 4 to be ready to operate started last December, with a campaign of the alliance called "United4Rescue" named #WirSchickenEinSchiff (“We send a ship”).

    The coalition initiated by the Evangelical Church in Germany presently gathers more than 500 supporting organizations, ranging from congregations and student groups to diaconal agencies as well as secular partners.

     

    But rescuing people in the Mediterranean is not the only issue surrounding refugees in Germany. With news of horrible overcrowding in refugee camps particularly in Greece, several cities and states in Germany have volunteered to take in a number of refugees for resettlement. But Germany’s interior minister, Horst Seehofer, keeps prohibiting this despite public pressure.

    Please pray that God will guide politicians in Germany and Europe to do what is right in God’s eyes, and that he will soften their hearts towards the suffering refugees.

     

    Natural disasters have affected two member churches this week. In Sumatra/Indonesia, the Sinabung volcano has erupted once again, showering surrounding villages with ash and stones, turning day into night, frightening people in the vicinity.

     

    And coastal Tanzania was shaken on Wednesday by a strong and unusal earthquake. Rev. Earnest Kadiva writes from the Regional Office in Dar es salaam:

    A very strong dangerous earthquake was felt along the coast of Tanzania on Wednesday 12 August 2020 17:13 UTC. According to United States Geological Survey (USGS) the epicenter was located about 80 kilometer south-east of Dar es Salaam. Moderate intensities were recorded across Dar es Salaam and on Zanzibar Island. Had the quake occurred closer to the shore, it probably would have had a much more severe outcome. However, due to the distance between epicenter and coast, there are no reports of serious damage or injuries.

    People in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar Island, and other nearby coastal areas felt moderate to strong shaking. There were light to moderate damage, depending on the quality of structures to resist shaking, such as broken windows and roof poorly built.

    We thank God for His care and protection.

     

    Updates about the COVID-19 situation:

    In Namibia, Windhoek, Rehoboth, Okahandja, Walvisbay, Swakopmund and Arandis are now under lockdown with a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Travel to and from these towns is forbidden. The rest of the country functions normally, though with social distancing and hygiene measures.

    In Rwanda, Cyangugu and Kigeme continue under lockdown. The bishops of the two dioceses of the Anglican Church in Rwanda ask for our prayers for the people there.

    Churches are set to re-open for worship this Sunday in Equateur Province in the DR Congo.

    The number of new infections in South Africa is finally going down.

     

    COVID-19 statistics:

    As these figures only show tested and registered cases, they only give a limited picture of what is really happening in the world. But we still report them as they give us an idea about trends and developments.

    Worldwide, about 250,000 new cases are identified every day. This number has not grown within the last two weeks.

    Three countries make up for almost two thirds of daily infections: India, Brazil and the USA. Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Mexico also have high numbers of positive cases every day.

    Country

    New infections on August 13

    Active COVID-19 cases on August 19

    New infections on August 6

    Active COVID-19 cases on August 6

    South Africa

    3,946

    123,978

    8,307

    141,264

    Philippines

    3,920

    74,651

    3,561

    50,437

    Indonesia

    2,098

    39,290

    1,882

    37,587

    Germany

    1,419

    12,188

    1,106

    9,758

    Namibia

    138

    2,669

    112

    2,074

    Cameroon

    45

    2,587

    No figure given

    2,007

    Botswana

    148

    1,091

    No figure given

    739

    Hong Kong

    69

    953

    95

    1,346

    DR Congo

    51

    875

    56

    1.046

    Rwanda

    8

    634

    5

    848

    Sri Lanka    

    1

    225

    11

    287

     

    No figures are given by Tanzania.

  • Prayer Alert - August 7, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    After a three-week break, here are updates about the COVID-19 situation around the UEM member churches.

    Africa Region

    Rev. Stephen Pedro writes from the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa (URCSA):

    We are continuing the COVID-19 fight.

    In our province, the Western Cape, the numbers are stabilizing and the death toll came down considerably in comparison with some of the other provinces.

    I think most South Africans understand the importance of masking and sanitizing.

    Our schools are closed from 24 July till 24 August.

    URCSA congregations still haven't start with Sunday services but all congregations are slowly returning back to some sort of normality with church offices that are open, etc.

    On synod level we are preparing for our Synodical Commission Meeting 25th August. On congregational and synodical level we are having difficult conversations about congregations who cannot pay their ministers salaries and vacant posts that cannot be filled.

    Otherwise we keep the faith and hope for better days again.

     

    On July 27, Bishop Assiel Musabyimana of Kigeme Diocese of the Anglican Church in Rwanda (EAR) told UEM about a new lockdown in his region with dire consequences. He wrote:

    Today Kigeme area is locked down again, because of 7 Covid-19 cases found there and the government took strong measures to manage the situation. We thank God for that because if those measures were not taken the spread of coronavirus could be uncontrollable, and the Diocese working in rural area were the people are not well equipped to fight the pandemic could face catastrophic damage than being under lockdown. Nevertheless the effect of this lockdown is huge: In other place nationwide they are enjoying Sunday services of course under plenty restrictions but in Kigeme it is not the case, secondly being inside the houses for a long time without having access to market and to our daily activities: economic, social and physical is affecting our spiritual and economic life.

    These are some diocesan services severely affected: The diocesan office is closed, the staff are not going to work for the time we don’t know, which will depend on the ministry of health decision. Kigeme hospital is partly closed; it is receiving solely emergence cases like surgical and serious accident; the majority off hospital staff are under isolation because two of their colleagues were tested positive of Covid-19. Kigeme refugee camp is also under lockdown because of 8 Covid-19 cases found in the camp, and now the people are locked down and this is bringing about starvation. Kigeme secondary school both A and B are places of isolation, all the shops are closed including those selling food items. In short, the measures are strong depending on the gravity of the problem, they are needed, but also unbearable. People are hungry and our prayer is to see this lockdown ending so that the government may ease the restriction. We always appreciate your intervention in dealing with this, your prayers always needed.

     

    As Marcel Sebahire reports, in other areas in Rwanda, churches have started to re-open for worship on July 19 after 127 days of closure. As churches need to fulfil a number of safety requirements to be allowed to resume worship services, the process will take some time.

     

    Christine Musongya, head of the Department for Diaconia and Development of the Baptist Community in Central Africa (CBCA), reports that members of their congregation in Kampala are mostly refugees who are facing severe problems due to the lockdown. There is very little government help, and, with funding from UEM, the church has started to provide food relief and hygiene items to 250 refugee families.

     

    Rev. Dr. Marthe Maleke Kondemo writes from Equateur Province in the DR Congo:

    The problem here is Ebola. The number is increasing, there are now 68 confirmed cases and 21 deaths. Now it is not only in Mbandaka but in different places within the region.

    The big fear is that people do not want to get vaccinated. In many cases, when a suspected person dies, there is a fight between the family and friends of the deceased who want to take the body with the government. They want their relatives to be buried in a normal coffin, not plastic bag and have normal funeral. A majority of people still believe that these illnesses are a government invention to get money. They don’t care if it is Ebola or another decease that can take life, any way as they say, no one will escape death.

    Many people are dying at home due to fear of going to the hospital. There are rumors that suspected people are given an injection to increase the number of deaths. The situation is increasing poverty, violence and crime especially among youth. With the actual situation, hunger might kill more than corona and Ebola.

    People often do not know how to survive in this situation. Schools were supposed to resume last Monday, 3 August, but this has now been postponed to next Monday, the 10th. If there will be no changes, churches will reopen on the 15 of this month.

    Please pray for people to be conscious of the actual situation that Ebola and Corona are real.

     

    Rev. Mark Beukes wrote from Namibia on August 5:

    We in Walvisbay, Swakopmund and Arandis are still under lockdown. Gatherings are allowed only with 10 persons. Schools for grade 11 and 12 started respectively last week and this week. In the whole country schools were closed again for the whole of August.

    Walvisbay is still regarded as the epicentre. We are sitting in front of the radio now, because every day at 15h00 they give an update. Today, there were 12 deaths, of which 9 were in Walvis, 2 in Windhoek and 1 in Swakop. Positive cases over 2000 of which 90% in Walvis. However cases are increasing rapidly in Windhoek. We are not allowed to travel to the rest of the country. Recoveries are very slow. Just over 100 recoveries so far. They released n big number of people, but did not announce it yet. People are waiting very long for their results. It seems that the pandemic seems to really start now in Namibia. We need your divine prayer intervention.

     

    Asia Region

    Rev. Petrus Sugito, Deputy Executive Secretary Asia, reports from the UEM Asia Regional Office in Pematang Siantar/Indonesia:

    1. The general situation of Indonesia is that it is still a red zone of the Coronavirus outbreak. There are 116.871 people (73.809 people cured and 5.452 people died) confirmed positive infected the virus at 7.30pm Pematang Siantar time on August 5, 2020. Last week, the positivity rate in Jakarta was around 7.8 percent, meaning that according to WHO standards, it is not safe, because the WHO maximum safe standard is 5%.

    This happened for one reason: The lack of mass awareness about self-prevention. Therefore, recently Indonesia President Joko Widodo launched a presidential instruction in order to raise mass awareness on self-prevention by using face masks, physical distancing, washing hands or using hand sanitizer as often as possible, and keeping healthy by consuming healthy food. It is a change for the churches to take part in the raising of mass awareness.

    Indonesian economic growth in 2nd quarter 2020 is minus 5.32%. This is a sign that “people's purchasing power”, particularly of the middle and lower class is decreasing, because income is also decreasing and the rate of unemployment is increasing. Please pray for the Indonesian churches to be able to do transformative diaconia to help people.

    Biofarma, a state-owned enterprises and the medical department of Padjadjaran State University in Bandung are going to do a 3rd Corona Virus vaccine test in August. The government plans to produce 250 million doses by the end of 2020.

     

    1. UEM member churches HKBP, GKPS, HKI, GKPI, GKPPD, and GBKP plan to conduct general synod assemblies to elect church leaders. They need our support in prayer in order to be able conduct the assemblies successfully, safely and healthy in midst of the pandemic.

     

    1. MCSL: Rev. Asiri Perera will go out and Rev. Ebenezer Joseph will come in as MCSL president in August 2020. Rev. Asiri Perera is going into retirement.

     

    Rev. Homar Distajo adds on the situation in the Philippines:

    As of August 4, 2020, Philippines has 112, 593 total cases. There are 44,429 active cases and 66,049 recoveries. The President ordered the re-implementation of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), following the sudden rise of cases. Specific affected areas for MECQ are Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Region 4. A strong appeal came from the frontliners who asked for help as many in their ranks are getting infected and dying. The frontliners are medical health workers, including doctors, nurses, and volunteer health workers.

     

    Rev. Tulus Suprianto sent this e-mail from central Java for the GKJTU Synod Board:

    In Ecclesiastes 3: 11a, “He has made everything beautiful in its time ...”, we believe that there must be something beautiful that God has provided for us in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The current condition of Indonesia in general is still not so good. The Covid-19 chain is also still strongly connected. Various attempts have been made by the Government to break the Covid-19 chain. But until now, God still hasn't allowed this chain to be broken. This has a tremendous impact on the whole community. Many companies cannot be opened again and eventually closed. Many companies finally have to lay off their employees. As a church which is present in the midst of the community, GKJTU also experiences the same thing. The pandemic’s impact is directly felt for the journey of GKJTU’s service.

    But praise the Lord, because in the midst of these hard times, it raises an extraordinary sense of empathy among fellow members of GKJTU churches and even between GKJTU and non-Christian institutions. There has been quite a lot of basic need aids that has been distributed by GKJTU church members both to GKJTU members and non-Christian organizations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In synod level, GKJTU has also provided a part to support the church members to get through this emergency period.

    At present, the GKJTU Synod is also developing a virtual service which aimed to help the members’ spiritual growth and also Economic Development Training. We hope that through this virtual service, church members can have spiritual supports and they are equipped with various skills through the economic training provided. We hope that finally church members and communities can have the ability to get through these difficult times.

    That’s all the letter, may we pray for one another so that the service we do can truly bless many people. We also hope that soon the situation will be normal again and our partnership can continue to work well and the name of God will be glorified.

     

    In Hong Kong, the press is now speaking of a ‘third wave’ of infections. After weeks of no local transmission, new cases have been rising rapidly.

    On July 26, the Hong Kong government implemented additional social distancing measures, including limiting group gatherings from four to two, limiting indoor dining at all times, and suspending operations of bars, fitness centers, beauty parlors, and other places of entertainment.

    As of July 29, the Hong Kong government requires the wearing of masks in all indoor and outdoor public places, public transport facilities, and bus interchanges and adjoining facilities. Schools and universities are still closed.

    Elections for the Legislative Council that were scheduled for 6 September 2020 were postponed to 5 September 2021.

    An infection cluster among migrant domestic workers has raised fears of further discrimination against this group.

     

    Germany Region

    Life has returned to a kind of normality, albeit with masks in public transport and shops and the prohibition of large gatherings. Church services are held with social distancing, masks, and no singing, unless people gather outside. Schools are opening again after the summer break, but with distancing rules. In many states, older pupils and teachers are required to wear masks throughout the school day.

    Many people have traveled for their holidays, both within the country and within Europe. There is a great fear that this will re-start a new wave of infections, and people who travelled to areas of high risk now face mandatory testing upon their return.

    Numbers of infections are rising, but slowly.

     

    COVID-19 new infections and active cases in countries with UEM churches:

    (Source: www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/)

     

    Country

    New infections on August 6

    Active COVID-19 cases on August 6

    New infections on July 9

    Active COVID-19 cases on July 9

    South Africa

    8,307

    141,264

    13,674

    121,558

    Philippines

    3,561

    50,437

    1,395

    37,627

    Indonesia

    1,882

    37,587

    2,657

    34,668

    Germany

    1,106

    9,758

    433

    6,473

    Namibia

    112

    2,074

    22

    590

    Cameroon

    No figure given

    2,007

    No figure given

    3,032

    Hong Kong

    95

    1,346

    42

    183

    DR Congo

    56

    1.046

    414

    4,144

    Sri Lanka    

    11

    287

    60

    164

    Rwanda

    5

    848

    16

    584

    Botswana

    No figure given

    739

    No figure given

    282

     

    No figures are given by Tanzania.

    More than one third of the cases in South Africa are in Gauteng Province (Johannesburg and surroundings), another third in Western and Eastern Cape Provinces.

     

    Excerpts from a prayer from Silliman University, Dumaguete:

    In the midst of what is happening now in our world O Lord, may we not feel weary in seeking out your presence in moments of sheer silence. May you teach us the value of observing such moments of quiet contemplation to allow us to experience what may no longer be available to a world that has been so drowned in the noise and tumult of modernity, wars, greedy acquisition and cutthroat competition. Teach us o Lord to listen to your voice from the silent moments that we observe in connecting and communicating with you.

    In such moments, whisper to us in your still small voice your will for what is to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Show us what you have for us to as part of your kingdom building in a world that has become so broken and divided. Guide us towards others with whom we may share the labors of peace and justice, and our humble efforts towards healing and reconciliation.

    Yes, O Lord, healing and reconciliation, justice and peace are the things we need most these days, in this world that has become so ill, not just with this pandemic, but ill in their spirits, with many people harboring so much ill feelings towards others. Teach us O Lord to make way for what will bring about a fullness of healing and recovery not just for those who are sick with this Covid illness but those who are also afflicted with the spirit of ill will and hatred towards others.

    Even as we pray for healing and recovery of our loved ones, those dear and close to us that they may find in you the grace and power to be healed, we also pray for those living with wounded feelings and aching hearts, those longing for reconciliation and resolution of deeply rooted alienating issues, be it in the family, in the neighborhood, or in the church and community. Teach us O Lord, the way of peacemaking as an element of holistic healing that we are all praying for.

  • Prayer Alert - July 10, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Our long prayer alert this week takes up news from several Evangelism Contact Persons on the COVID-19 situation, shared in a videoconference on 8 July, as well as reports from Rwanda and South Africa. In addition, we have news about the arrest of a pastor in the Philippines, a statement from the President of the ECC in DR Congo, and a prayer request from Germany.

     

    To begin with the Philippines, Rev. Homar Distajo from the UEM Asia Office sent this news: Rev. Dan San Andres, 61, a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, also the Spokesperson of Karapatan-Bicol chapter, was arrested July 9, at 12:55pm in his house at Sipocot, Camarines Sur.

    According to initial reports of Karapatan-Bicol, Pastor Dan and Jenelyn Nagrampa of Bicolana-Gabriela were accused of double murder in relation to an alleged NPA ambush resulting in the deaths of two soldiers in Ragay on May 13, 2018. Both filed their respective counter-affidavits where they vehemently denied participation in the alleged ambush. They submitted their affidavits during the preliminary investigation on the double murder complaint in December.

    Duterte's administration has started the crackdown and criminalization of human rights' activists with the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 that gives power to the state to silence government critics and to suppress the people from expressing their reasonable concerns. It is a reckless act meant obviously to discredit the image of legitimate institutions like the Church which commits itself to work with the people in the noble cause of peace advocacy and human rights protection.

    The UCCP, in its pastoral statement, "A Mockery against Freedom and Sovereignty", states that, "The Anti-Terrorism Bill is a peril not just against those upholding and safeguarding human rights, but against every individual or group who advocates and defends human rights and the protection of human dignity as afforded to all by God."

    We demand the immediate release of Rev. Dan San Andres, Jenelyn Nagrampa, and other human rights defender/activists. We seek the prayers and support of the international community.  

     

    The president of the Eglise du Christ au Congo, Rev. Dr André Bokundoa-bo-Likabe, has published a prophetic statement coinciding with the commemoration of 60 years of independence of the DR Congo on June 30. Bokundoa calls on the president of the country to engage in national consultations to overcome the deeply entrenched problems and divisions in the country, and he calls on all Congolese citizens to live in unity and overcome religious, ethnic/tribal and political wars. At the end of his statement, Bokundoa calls on all Christians to pray for the DR Congo.

     

    In the churches in Germany, discussions this week focus on the news that more people have left the churches last year than ever before. Protestants and Catholics together now make up just above half of the German population. (Muslims continue to be a small minority of about 5% of the population.) Almost 40% of the Germans do not adhere to any religion. This has caused intense discussions about the future of the church, and how to react to this trend. Rev. Jule Gayk asks us to pray for individual congregations as well as the churches as a whole to listen to God, and to follow God when it comes to making decisions about the future.

     

    And now to the COVID-19 situation:

     

    Rev. Talla Waffo told us that churches have re-opened in Cameroon. Church services can be held with a maximum of 50 people, so that many large congregations are forced to hold a series of services every Sunday. At the same time, many Christians are afraid of infection and prefer to stay at home and not participate in Sunday worship. As a consequence, church offerings are down, and pastors’ income is very low.

     

    Rev. Dr. Marthe Maleke Kondemo told us that in Mbandaka/DR Congo, schools and churches are still closed. Pastors are preaching on the radio to reach out to congregants. Some Christians are getting organized into small house churches, with three or four families meeting for worship in private homes. But they are fearful of the police which will break up such meetings if they are discovered. Last Sunday, she and other pastors spent several hours, distributing Holy Communion to people coming in groups of four to the back door of the church. In Congo as well, pastors’ salaries depend on Sunday offerings, and many pastors and their families are suffering.

    The big problem in Mbandaka is not COVID-19, but the Ebola outbreak. Vaccinations are now available, but due to a lot of fake news, many people refuse to be vaccinated. As the vaccine also has quite severe side effects, making people ill for several days, many are afraid to be vaccinated.

    Rev. Joel Kuvuna writes from Kinshasa/DR Congo: In our side, we are busy alerting people of the risk of the virus spreading. We have organized a structure to alert about the virus but also to make people aware to avoid stigmatization on those who can be infected. Stigmatization is one of the problems going beyond the pandemic. We work on both sides, prevention and stigmatization awareness. We noticed that the virus is spreading because people are hiding themselves if infected to avoid to be stigmatized and rejected by the society. So this week we were busy alerting on public places. We reached all the markets (six) in our city. Pray for this ministry and the burden Lord have given us.

    Here is the situation in this Thursday 09 July 2020 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Infected: 7,846 

    Death: 189

    Healed: 3,513

    And more than 3000 people are waiting to be declared healed.

     

    Rev. Anderson Kipande and Rev. Ainekisha Bulaya from Tanzania describe a country that is operating almost normally. Schools and churches are open, and even Sunday schools have resumed. People can travel all over the country, and preparations for the presidential elections in October are under full steam. Most people are not afraid of the pandemic, though some doubt that there are really no more COVID-19 cases in Tanzania.

     

    Marcel Sebahire writes from Rwanda that the Rwanda Interfaith Council has asked the government to allow the reopening of places of worship. The government has responded with a long list of requirements, beginning with an assessment of each place of worship by a trained team from the local authority. Churches will only allowed to re-open if social distancing and hygiene regulations can be kept, and masks are worn by all worship participants. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed into churches, and those aged 12-18 have to be accompanied by their parents. Churches are now waiting for the government to implement these regulations.

    Rev. Venant Ntakirutimana adds: In Rwanda, all professions are operating, except some sports and bars. Church gatherings are not yet resumed and schools will reopen in September. However, the numbers of new infections cases increase more than it has been. Some districts are in quarantine like some sectors and cells according to the location of infected people. There is hope that churches may reopen in this month.

     

    Rev. Stephen Pedro writes from South Africa where the rate of new daily infections is growing steeply and now the fourth-highest worldwide after the USA, Brazil and India: I am very worried and concerned. Our regional Synod leadership [of the Western Cape Synod of URCSA] called together a COVID-19 response Team with experts from relevant sectors to advise and inform our ministries but then again it is responsive and not proactive. Otherwise we hope for the best, pray especially for the essential health care personnel and take every chance to highlight the importance of self-care wherever I can. Let's keep on praying for one another.

     

    Rev. Samuel Tarigan said that in Medan/North Sumatra, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has increased to more than 1,000. Therefore, churches are still closed and using social media and video conferences for their activities. It is hoped that churches can re-open in early August under a ‘new normal’ with some restrictions.

     

    According to Rev. Eirene Gulö, Nias has only had one confirmed case of COVID-19. Churches are open but observing strict hygiene, and people wear masks during the worship service. Overall, life seems to be going on normally.

     

    The situation is similar in Papua, says Rev. Dolfina Yahuy. Churches in the cities have re-opened (village churches never closed down). Social distancing rules are being observed. Evangelism programs will now resume.

     

    In Germany, Sunday services are taking place again, though without singing and with strict distancing and mask-wearing rules. Other church programs, though, like the Bible workshop of the Westphalian Church, are still closed, as Sven Körber reports.

     

    In Hong Kong, the summer break for schools and kindergartens has been moved forward and will begin this weekend due to a new local outbreak. About 1,400 people will be evacuated from a housing block in which eleven residents tested positive, reports the South China Morning Post.

     

    COVID-19 new infections and active cases in countries with UEM churches:

    Country

    New infections on July 9

    Active COVID-19 cases on July 9

    New infections on July 2

    Active COVID-19 cases on July 2

    South Africa

    13,674

    121,558

    8,728

    83,218

    Indonesia

    2,657

    34,668

    1,624

    29,740

    Philippines

    1,395

    37,627

    294

    26,858

    Germany

    433

    6,473

    393

    7,353

    DR Congo

    414

    4,144

    67

    4,696

    Cameroon

    No figure given

    3,032

    No new figures

    No new figures

    Rwanda

    16

    584

    17

    559

    Sri Lanka    

    60

    164

    12

    228

    Hong Kong

    42

    183

    9

    116

    Namibia

    22

    590

    8

    269

    Botswana

    No figure given

    282

     

    198

     

    No figures are given by Tanzania.

     

    Please note: The UEM Prayer Alert will take a break for the next three weeks. Unless there are special developments which require an extra alert, the next bulletin will be sent out on August 7, 2020.

     

    To finish, a prayer by American pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, slightly amended:

    Dear God,

    Everyone’s exhausted right now: parents, activists, cashiers, people who are just now actually learning about systemic racism, delivery drivers, the unemployed, the chronically sick, ER nurses, doctors, those who fear the police, the elderly, performers with no hope of an audience any time soon, clergy, social workers, teachers without salaries, daily laborers who can’t make their rent, and everyone who has to spray something down with disinfectant for the 1,000th time.

    Teach us to rest, Lord. Help us dial back our obsession with productivity. Raise up more helpers for those who are over-extended, Lord - stir up the desire to serve in those who only take. Remove barriers to napping. Quiet babies for an hour so those new mamas can sleep. Give employers the will to grant paid leave. Quiet those voices that tell us we should be doing more right now, especially the ones that come from inside of us. Teach us not to confuse respite with laziness. Increase our compassion for one another. And while you’re at it, increase our compassion for ourselves. And strengthen our hope in you.

    Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. AMEN.

  • Prayer Alert - July 3, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Our prayer alert this week focuses on a number of issues in addition to COVID-19.

     

    First of all, you may have heard or seen the news about Hong Kong this week. Rev. Leon Chau, General Secretary of the Chinese Rhenish Church, has this prayer request for us:

    The implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law in Hong Kong has caused great repercussions in society, as well as in the church. Please pray that God will look after His children and keep their hearts strong. Please also pray that the Holy Spirit will always assure us that God is the God in charge of everything, and that the Spirit will teach us to encounter ourselves and others with faith, hope, and love.

     

    Please also pray for Rev. Marcelino, Daisy and Jennybeth Mariano of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

    They have been accused by the military to be members of the Communist Party and rebel organization New People’s Army. This “red-tagging” is used by the Philippine military to threaten environmental and human rights activists, and leads to harassment and attacks. Pastor Marcelino is the spokesperson of Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) and a member of the Ilocos Region Ecumenical Council (ISEM). Defend Ilocos played a significant role in the region’s campaign against destructive mining in the coastal areas and interior towns. Daisy is the deputy secretary of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance. Their daughter, Jennybeth, heads the Christian Youth Fellowship of the UCCP North Luzon-Amburayan Conference and is active as a volunteer in COVID-19 hit communities. The family rejects the accusations, but now fears for their lives.

     

    Evangelism Contact Person Rev. Marudur Siahaan from HKBP sent this message:

    Whirlwind and heavy rains happened in our area, Toba regency at around 3-5 pm, day before yesterday. It caused much damage. One death, a woman, 55, Sigumpar, is confirmed. It says hundreds of the houses and the farming are much damaged. Many of the affected people are our member church at HKBP Toba District. Please pray for the victims...

     

    And finally, please pray for South Africa, and in particular Western Cape Province and Cape Town. South Africa is now has one of the fastest growing COVID-19 epidemics worldwide, with almost 9,000 new confirmed cases just yesterday. Most of these are located in Western Cape Province, and black townships in Cape Town like Khayelitsha are hit the hardest. According to a BBC report, many health workers have fallen ill themselves, and hospitals are overwhelmed. A lack of education about the virus means that many people do not wear masks in public, and social distancing anyway is difficult to maintain when many people live together in small spaces.

    At the same time, let us give thanks and praise to God for the many countries where new infections and active case numbers are falling.

     

    The COVID-19 situation in countries with UEM member churches as of July 2:

    Country

    Active COVID-19 cases on July 2

    New infections on July 2

    New infections on June 25

    Active COVID-19 cases on June 25

    South Africa

    83,218

    8,728

    6,579

    51,109

    Indonesia

    29,740

    1,624

    1,178

    27,118

    Philippines

    26,858

    294

    774

    22,947

    Germany

    7,353

    393

    531

    7,973

    DR Congo

    4,696

    67

    198

    5,384

    Cameroon

    No new figures

    No new figures

    322

    2,179

    Rwanda

    559

    17

    20

    463

    Sri Lanka    

    228

    12

    9

    397

    Hong Kong

    116

    9

    14

    99

    Namibia

    269

    8

    26

    81

    Botswana

    198

     

     

    66

     

    A reflection and a prayer by Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber from the United States:

    I swear to God, exercise and gratitude are like, God’s own anti-depressants. In this time of loss and suffering and turmoil, when not one of us is spared of sorrow, this morning I made myself list some things I am genuinely grateful for right now, today, in this very moment. And it made me feel better. Feel free to add your own. Also, this is obviously not a comprehensive list of that which is worthy to be grateful for, but simply what came to mind in the moment.

     

    Give Us This Day Our Daily Gratitude

    That I have been given one more day, I give thanks.

    That the birds still sing each morning, impossibly early outside my window, I give thanks.

    For the sun rising once again in the East, I give thanks.

    That for this day I have bread, I give thanks.

    For drinkable water, for breathable air, and Dairy Queen dipped cones I give thanks.

    For one more day of mobility I give thanks.

    For cell phone reception, and I-guess-its-better-than-nothing ZOOM calls and reliable internet service, I give thanks.

    That I am loved, I give thanks

    That I am forgiven, I give thanks.

    That I am alive, I give thanks.

    That you, O God are known by many names, I give thanks.

    That you, O God are present when I feel only your absence I give thanks.

    That you are God and I am not, I give the most thanks. Forgive me when I forget that one.

    And for every other gift I am too self-obsessed to see, but that totally comes from you -Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Amen.

    For what or for whom do the people of God offer thanks?

  • Prayer Alert - June 26, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Our weekly prayer alert brings together news from different corners of the world today.

    Our first prayer request is not Coronavirus-related. Rev. Dr. John Wesley Kabango, Executive Secretary for Africa of UEM, writes:

    For more than 2 years UEM member, the Evangelical Church of Cameroon (EEC) has been suffering from an internal leadership conflict. On the 23rd June 2020, it is reported to the UEM Africa Department that 17 Presidents of EEC regions out of the 22 led, by the former EEC President Pastor Njike, decided to come together to see a way of mediation and solve their internal problems. They believe that it can only be internally resolved and by EEC church members and their leaders. Today it was planned that the conflicting parties will have a first meeting at the EEC Faculty of Theology at Ndoungué to initiate talks and mediation processes.

    Let us pray that God helps and inspires the EEC members/leaders to have unity and properly address the causes of the destructive divisions.

    UEM co-worker Rev. Yessy Kapitan (Foreign Domestic Helper Program-Hong Kong) writes:

    We praise the Lord for His Protection, since June 19th, Hong Kong already loosened up the eight people gathering restriction to a 50 people policy. It is quite relieving for all of us in Hong Kong, because it means our activities can be back to normal, of course with all “new normal” habits we shall do. Even though, according to Hong Kong Immigration, there will be 10,000 applicants of Foreign Domestic Helpers who will be entering Hong Kong during summer and need to pass the SWAP of COVID-19 and make a statement at Hong Kong Airport before they enter Hong Kong. Employment agencies have called for newly hired domestic helpers to be quarantined in government centres on their arrival in Hong Kong, saying most families did not want to house them over the 14-days period. Most of the families hire foreign maids to take care of the elderly, children, or babies, who are the most vulnerable groups. If a maid ends up being found to be a virus carrier, the whole family can be infected and if it could lead to community outbreak.

    Shall we pray for these workers' health physically, mentally and spiritually, as they need to leave their family back home in their origin during this pandemic. May God also take care of them and comfort them during the hard situations while people also lose their occupation.

    Also for the employer's compassion to these workers, to welcome and treat them well as a part of the family, so both sides can have a good complementary relationship.

    Rev. Mark Beukes of the ELCRN in Namibia wrote from Walvisbay on June 25:

    The minister of health this evening announced that Namibia has recorded 12 new COVID-19 positive cases. Eleven of the cases are from Walvisbay and one is from Swakopmund.

    Things are getting worse in Walvisbay. There is a rapid increase in positive cases. They are busy with a 4 day mass testing campaign and numbers will increase. It is getting scary now.

    Marcel Sebahire writes from Shyogwe Diocese of the Anglican Church in Rwanda:

    Since its creation, Shyogwe Diocese has always considered education as an important pillar that makes strong the life of the church. Evangelism, health and holistic development are other main pillars on which the diocese is built.

    Shyogwe Diocese owns a total number of 33 primary, secondary and TVET schools and 1 higher learning institution. From all those schools, we count a total number of 28,545 learners.

    Since the arrival of the COVID-19 outbreak on March 14, 2020, Schools are closed and they will reopen in September depending on the situation with regard to the pandemic. The pupils and students are now at home and can review their lessons using e-learning and television & Radio programs put in place by the government of Rwanda to help pupils and student learn from homes, though quite a number of children can access the online and TV learning. Our prayers and support always go to those who can’t access online learning. The diocese, through its education department, urges the parents, pastors, head teachers, and teachers to assist the learners at home. Some schools prepare some quiz and other teaching works to share with parents who can use WhatsApp or simple phone messages to help their kids.

    Evangelist Nalin Chamila wrote from the Methodist Church Sri Lanka on June 22:

    Thank God, Sri Lanka has solved Covid-19, but still new cases rise from the quarantine centers. Now everything is under control. Yesterday were started Sunday services, but the government advises us to limit people to around 50 with face masks.

    Germany has seen a huge outbreak of infections in an abattoir in Northrhine-Westphalia state with more than 1,500 persons affected, causing renewed lockdown measures in two counties and rejection and stigmatization of travelers from these counties in other parts of Germany. It is possible that a worship service was a cause of the outbreak, but it is also clear that working conditions and the cramped living conditions of contract workers play a role in the rapid spread of infections. There is a big discussion now in Germany about improving working and living conditions as well as wages for meat workers.

    A further outbreak with 79 cases so far was reported yesterday in another meat-processing factory.

     

    The COVID-19 situation in countries with UEM member churches as of June 25:

    Country

    Active COVID-19 cases

    New infections on June 25

    South Africa

    51,109

    6,579

    Indonesia

    27,118

    1,178

    Philippines

    22,947

    774

    Germany

    7,973

    531

    DR Congo

    5,384

    198

    Cameroon

    2,179

    322

    Rwanda

    463

    20

    Sri Lanka    

    397

    9

    Hong Kong

    99

    14

    Namibia

    81

    26

    Botswana

    66

    0

     

    A prayer by Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

    When.

    God who is called by many names,

    How long, O Lord?

    How long until we can touch our parents and beloved elders? (and we thank you for each day we have had with them)

    How long until we can have things on our calendar to look forward to that don't involve staring at a computer? (and we thank you for the abundance of celebrations and movies and live music and meals with friends that we have been granted up until a few months ago)

    How long until we can gather together again to sing your praise? (and we thank you for calling an assembly in the streets to overturn the tables of injustice and racism)

    How long until the dying ceases, the brutality ends, the anxiety abates?

    How long, O Lord?

    I’m not asking for a date. I’m asking for the faith that a date will come.

    Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - June 19, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

     

    Our prayer alert today does not only look at COVID-19 and how it affects us, but first at the situation in West Papua.

     

    Rev. Dr. Jochen Motte, UEM Executive Secretary for JPIC, wrote on June 16:

     

    In a statement from 12th June 2020 religious leaders West Papua, Indonesia called upon the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo to stop racism against Papuans. Rev. Hendrikus Mofu, chairperson of the UEM Member Church, the Protestant Church in Papua (GKI) co-signed the letter.

     

    The religious leaders urge President Jokowi to investigate the numerous gross human rights violations from the past years and decades and to sentence the perpetrators for their crimes.

    Furthermore they demand an end to discrimination against and marginalization of Papuas in their own land, to allow independent historical investigation on the “integration” of West Papua into Indonesia in 1969 and to improve the economic situation of Papuans, access to education and health services.

     

    The statement was released in view of the ongoing trial against 7 Papuans who are accused of treason. These Papuans participated in protests in Jayapura (West Papua) against racism in August 2019 after it became public that soldiers in a racist attack in Surabaya had shouted insults such as “monkeys” and “pork eaters” at Papuan students in a dormitory. The names of the seven Papuan defendants are Buchtar Tabuni, Agus Kossay, Stevanus Itlay, Ferry Gombo, Alexander Gobai, Irwanus Uropmabin and Hengki Hilapok.

     

    In their statement the religious leaders also accuse the Indonesian judicial system of discriminatory verdicts. While Papuans receive long term prison sentences even for minor felonies, perpetrators of human rights violations from the military or the police often are often acquitted or receive low punishment.

     

    If you would like to express solidarity with the UEM Member Church, the GKI, please send an E-Mail to Rev. Hendrikus Mofu, Chair-Person of the GKI using gkitanahpapua[at]yahoo.com with copy to us (jpic[at]vemission.org).

     

    We ask for your prayers and your solidarity with sisters and brothers in the GKI-TP.

     

     

    On June 17, Jochen Motte added:

     

    An Indonesian court issued on Wednesday guilty verdicts against the first three West Papuan defendants accused of treason, in a case that has drawn concern about deteriorating political freedoms in the world's third-largest democracy.

    Buchtar Tabuni, one of the leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 11 months in prison - significantly lower than the 17 years that prosecutors had asked.

    Following his sentencing, Tabuni, who was previously imprisoned for three years from 2008 to 2011, told the court, "in my conscience, I am innocent."

     

    COVID-19:

     

    Rev. Juliman Harefa from BNKP on Nias wrote on June 18:

    For your information that yesterday June 17, 2020 in Gunungsitoli city there was one positive case affected by corona virus.  We need all UEM friend’s to pray for us here in Nias Island. Thank you.

     

    In South Africa, some more restrictions have been lifted, but the number of cases keeps growing. The following statistic was sent by Rev. Stephen Pedro from URCSA and shows how cases and deaths are concentrated in Western Cape Province:

    #COVID19_SA Update:  17 June 2020

     

    As of today, the total number of confirmed #COVID19 cases in South Africa is 80,412

    Active cases: 34,407

    The total number of recoveries to date is 44,331 - *recovery rate of 55.1%

    There have been 49 more deaths bringing the total to 1,674 deaths - mortality rate: 2.1%

    Western Cape:  46,555 cases (+1,198). Deaths: 1,243

     

    Rev. Mark Beukes reported from Namibia, also on June 17:

    In Namibia we have recorded two new cases yesterday of which one is in Walvisbay, the town in which I live. Our region is in lockdown until coming Monday. Two weeks before, only Walvisbay was on total lockdown. When the rest of the country went to stage 1, we went back from stage two to three after cases were recorded in Walvisbay. Just before we could move to the following stage, it was announced new cases in Walvis were recorded and that it was possible local transmission, the first for the country, which brought the whole region back to lockdown. Now a new case was recorded in Walvis also due to local transmission, so we don't know what to expect coming Monday. We pray to God that the lockdown will be eased, because the economy in our town is suffering. People are losing income. Businesses are closed and loosing income. Grade 11 and 12 started with face to face education in the whole of Namibia already except for the Erongo region. Please be safe and let us keep on praying.

     

    In Germany, a huge cluster of new cases in an abattoir in Westphalia State has thrown a light on the exploitation of migrant workers in the meat industry. They are brought in for short periods from Southeastern Europe, live in cramped and squalid conditions, and work 12-hours shifts in cold temperatures and with little chance for the necessary distancing.

     

    A prayer from Germany for this specific situation:

    We pray, merciful God, for all those in the meat factories who suffer from COVID-19,

    Who had no chance to protect themselves,

    And who were not protected by those responsible for them.

     

    Look at the injustice that is spreading among us.

    Judge the perpetrators who stick to the exploitation of cheap labor for profit even though they know better.

    But first have mercy on those who are being exploited and deprived of their rights.

     

    Teach us all the insight that our limitless consumption of meat has no future.

    Listening to your will and with respect for all our co-creatures

    Teach us to recognize how renunciation and dignity come together,

    And set our feet on the way of peace

    On which all creatures have their room, and all can live their joy,

    For your praise and the salvation of many.

     

     

    Rev. Enock Thobias writes from Tanzania: It's been announced by the President that from 29 June2020 all primary and Secondary Schools will start and life should go on as usual!

    Pray with us.

     

    Active COVID-19 cases as of June 18:

    South Africa               37,230

    Indonesia                   23,625

    Philippines                 19,395

    Germany                      7,080

    DR Congo                    4,481

    Cameroon                    4,018

    Sri Lanka                         514

    Rwanda                           294

    Botswana                          53

    Hong Kong                        49

    Namibia                             20

     

    Tanzania has not reported any figures since the end of April.

  • Prayer Alert - June 12, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    As many countries are coming out of their lockdowns with low and sinking numbers of active cases, the number of COVID-19 infections is still rising in other parts of the world.

    Confirmed active COVID-19 cases, newly confirmed cases, 11 June 2020:

     

    South Africa   24,032                                   3,147

    Indonesia       20,659                                      979

    Philippines     17,974                                      443

    Germany           6,744                                      285

    DR Congo         3,850                                      125

    Cameroon        3,639                                   not reported

    Sri Lanka             716                               8

    Rwanda               179                             18

    Hong Kong            49                               0

    Botswana              23                               0

    Namibia                 14                               0

     

    Tanzania has not reported any figures since the end of April.

     

    Please give thanks to God for the countries where there are no or very few new infections, and pray that they will remain protected.

     

    Pastors from different churches are asking for our prayers as they begin to reopen their churches and restart Sunday services and other activities.

     

    Please pray in particular for South Africa where the number of new cases keeps rising steeply.

     

    Please also continue to pray for the city of Mbandaka in the DR Congo which in addition to an outbreak of Ebola now also has its first confirmed case of COVID-19. A second youth leader of the CDCC has died from an Ebola infection. Rev. Clément Mputu reported this morning that the number of Ebola vaccine doses available in the city is not sufficient.

     

    Finally, we want to share with you excerpts from a meditation from the Philippines:

     

    Muted and alienated

    Musings and remorse in the season of pandemic

    by Frank J. Hernando

    May 20, 2020

     

    Scripture Text: Psalm 143

     

    Muted and alienated ...

     

    I'm having a kind of ambivalence 

    If not confusion, or worse recalcitrance---

    what to feel and more importantly 

    what to expect in the coming weeks and months 

    working in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

     

    I felt like I have been muted, 

    unable to be physically present in meetings and conferences 

    to deliver sermons or presentations. 

     

    […]

     

    My world got smaller everyday due to restrictions 

    imposed by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) 

    in Luzon and then the entire country.

     

    Anxiety driven and threats of death ...

     

    The pandemic has instilled the fear of infection. 

    The moment one is infected, 

    one has already received his death certificate 

    where written COVID-19 as cause of death. 

    The declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine 

    or lock down was not well thought of by the government, 

    It was drastic, compulsive, militarist.

     

    What was in their minds?

    The easy way to do a lock down 

    is to do it military style of quarantine. 

    It is cheaper to lock down people

     in their homes and communities, 

    instead of launching mass virus testing programs. 

     

    Rights violated, hopes dimmed ...

     

    People losing control of their economic life, 

    those asserting their right to economic support  were jailed, killed, penalized

    Those who like to stay outdoors were called 'pasaway' or and punished, 

    as if their right place is indoors all their lives 

    Those who resist the quarantine were ordered shot or jailed

    Government judges were alerted to issue warrant of arrests

    For those who violate quarantine protocols

    […]

    The people have further been abused and their rights doubly violated.

    "We will not die of COVID-19

    But surely we will die of hunger, patay sa gutom," People in distress murmured.

     

    […]

     

    Praying for God's strength ...

     

    Dear God strengthen my heart and empower my will,

    My spirit is weakening, my resilience is diminishing, 

    Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning 

    for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, 

    for to you I lift up my soul. Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - June 5, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today we ask you to join us in prayers for the DR Congo, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. We pray for healing, for protection, and that God will strengthen the churches and all church members in these difficult situations.

     

    The watchword for today takes up the suffering of so many:

    My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually: “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:3)

    And the doctrinal text responds:

    The Lord says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor 12:9)

     

    From the Church of the Disciples of Christ in the Congo inMbandaka, Rev. Clément Mputu writes:

    We want to thank the Lord and all people who have prayed for Rev. Dr. Mboyo, the chaplain at the Protestant University in the Congo, who suffered from the Coronavirus. He is healed and has been discharged from hospital. May God be praised!

    But Ebola brings us mourning. We have just lost the youth president of a parish in Mbandaka who worked as a nurse. I also spoke on the phone with another youth, Alain, who is responsible for intercession in one of our parishes. He is in an isolation ward because he has contracted Ebola. He told me that there are seven cases altogether, two people have died, one was cured, and four remain at the hospital. Please pray for them, and may God bless us all.

     

    Rev. Stephen Pedro writes from the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa in Cape Town on COVID-19:

    Our numbers are on the increase, available hospital beds are getting less and we are getting more worried. After the president's announcement that places of worship can open still under strict regulations, URCSA however decided, like most if not all faith formations and denominations, not to re-open for assemblies and worship services. Otherwise most of the businesses re-opened and more and more people returned back to work, though under strict regulations and conditions. One of which is, no one without a mask in public.

    Otherwise we try to stay strong for our congregations’ and members’ sake and continue with virtual messages and encouragement. The past two days my colleagues in service of our Regional Synod, with our Moderator, had ZOOM conferences with all our pastors to listen and to hear from them how we can support and help address the needs at congregational level.

    Otherwise we try to stay focused although I personally am very hurt and angry about the killing of George Floyd. Really hope it will ignite the flame and movement for racial and economic justice all over the world so that all peoples can live in peace and true freedom, the abundant life Christ said He came for.

     

    From the UEM JPIC Department come these news:

    In Sri Lanka, for the first time in modern history of the country, the government has declared its intention to rule without parliamentary oversight beyond the three months period which the constitution allows. These actions are considered as a fundamental threat to the political institutions and have caused a constitutional crisis. Attempts to stop this development by appeals to the High Court so far have not been successful.

    In the Philippines, human rights have been severely restricted during the Corona crisis especially by an emergency law declared on 25th March 2020.  It also criminalizes any spread of “false information” with charges up to two years of prison. As a matter of fact, people who criticized the health crisis management in the Philippines on their personal social media accounts have lately been arrested and charged for violating the fake news provision of this law. 

    Meanwhile, tens of thousands have been at least temporarily arrested for curfew violations. There were reports of security forces confining those arrested to dog cages, among other abuses.  Reports shared with Human Rights Watch by child rights groups show that children are among those facing abusive treatment. As a punishment for violating the curfew, security forces have locked children inside dog cages, forcibly cut their hair or arrested their parents for letting them play outside.   

     

     

    Special Prayer for the World on Corona Virus Disease (COVID 19), by the Eastern and Coastal Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania

    "I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!" (John 16:33 - NRSV).

    Dear God, the Almighty, you said whatever we ask in your name, we will receive.

    We pray for global health, especially, during this time where the world is faced with the pandemic of COVID 19. God, we know that without you we will all perish.

    We pray for the families which are affected with coronavirus, as there are some families which have lost their beloved ones. God, we ask for your comfort, strength and encouragement during this tough time, these families are going through.

    We ask your wisdom for the heads of states when making decisions on how to combat the COVID 19. We need peace and unity of our leaders all over the world, so that they stand firm, come together and guide their people in good manner.

    We pray for the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel and scientists who day and night tend and treat patients infected with COVID 19. Give them strength, courage and inner love in dealing with sick people.

    God, you gave as ability to make and own different things on this earth. We pray for researchers and innovators all over the world, who are working hard to find a proper medicine for the disease. Give them vision and directions to find the solution.

    We pray for your church which is also passing through a difficult period. We thank you because in Tanzania, Churches remain open for worship and now we ask you to intervene into other countries so that people can again gather together to worship You and glorify your Mighty Name.

    Ooh Lord, the Bible says, "In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me." (Psalms 31:1). And Isaiah 53:5 tells us that, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed."

    We come to you God in faith that coronavirus disease (COVID 19) and other pandemic on this earth, will go away and perish for good, in your Holy Mighty Name we pray. Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - May 29, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    We start this prayer alert two days before Pentecost with an interfaith meditation from Indonesia, with thanks to Rev. Friedrich Tometten for his translation work. (A German version of this meditation can be found at the very end of this alert.) It speaks to us as many churches are still unable to hold worship services, while others can do so, but under severe limitations.

     

    God brings us to insight through Corona

     

    The Vatican forlorn.

    Jerusalem deserted.

    The Wailing Wall closed off.

    Easter uncertain.

    The Kaaba closed.

    Friday prayers only at home.

    Pilgrimage impossible.

    On Ramadan evenings, people pray in isolation.

     

    Corona came.

    As if it wanted to say: Your piety is fragile.

    Your celebration in God’s name only illusion.

    Signs and rites are often just masquerading and business.

     

    Since Corona has come, you are challenged to seek God.

    Not in the basilica of Saint Peter,

    not in the Kaaba,

    not in the church,

    not in the mosque,

    not in the pulpit,

    not in the council of the scholars,

    not in Sunday mass,

    not in Friday prayers.

     

    Rather: In yourself.

    In your closed mouth.

    In silent reality.

    In meaningful silence.

     

    Corona teaches you:

    God is not (only) in the crowd.

    God is not (only) in the festival

    God is on the way of your desperation over the sick world.

     

    Corona cleanses faith.

    Nothing shall remain.

    Only God.

    Finished: teachings which patronize reason.

    Finished: noisy acclamations of God’s name.

    Come, meet HIM in your soul,

    get to know HIM in the deepest core of your heart.

    Meet him in silent time,

    when you by yourself are together with HIM.

     

    Truly, the Kingdom of God is within you.

    Qalbun mukmin baitullah:

    The heart of those who believe is God’s house.

     

    May only God remain.

    May only your heart speak.

     

    Oh, may the covetous, those who abuse religion for their own purposes, come to their senses with God’s help.

     

    May we all grow and be illuminated through what is happening right now.

     

    +++++++++++++

     

    To keep us updated about the situation of our sisters and brothers, here is the number of active confirmed COVID-19 cases in the countries of UEM member churchesas of May 28:

    Indonesia:      16.802

    South Africa:  12.456

    Philippines:    11.069

    Germany:          9.782

    Cameroon:       3.265

    Sri Lanka:            775

    DR Congo:           391

    Rwanda:              104

    Hong Kong:           28

    Botswana:             14

    Namibia:                  8

     

    Tanzania has not reported any figures since the beginning of May.

     

     

    ++++++++++++++

     

    News and prayer requests from the churches:

     

    Rev. Jacques Ngahne writes from the Eglise Evangélique du Cameroun (EEC):

    Some three weeks ago, the government came out with some flexibility measures, especially in public transport and in drinking places. We are wondering because there is no adequation between measures and the increasing number of infected cases.

    The main opposition leader offered the health ministry tests and masks for hospitals and medical staffs, but he refused them.

    Gatherings of more than 50 people are still forbidden, even though there is no distancing in public transport, market places... Bearing a mask is an obligation in public places.

    Our parish continue church services on social media.  We have lost two more members. We cry upon to the Lord!

    Yesterday number of cases 5356, showing an increase of more than 100 % within a month, and 25 % within a week, and 177 deaths. School resumption for exam classes on 1st June 2020, that is next Monday.

    The church, with support from UEM is offering masks, hydro alcoholic gel and public hand washing devices to its Regions, schools and hospitals.

     

    Rev. Oinike Harefa writes from the Christian Protestant Church on Nias (BNKP):

    During this Covid19, I am so proud of the youth in BNKP who take part in solidarity with others. Last week, the youth of BNKP shared lunch and masks for the pedicab men in Gunungsitoli. 

    Tomorrow, the youth of BNKP will start to share books for children in 5 regencies in Nias. We call this action "Youth for Children" which inspired from UEM programs. These books are about the stories in the Bible. We hope that they can spend their time in reading the Bible with supporting books. Please bring our program for children also in your prayer. 

     

    Rev. Clement Mputu writes from the Communauté des Disciples of Christ (CDCC)/DR Congo:

    The CDCC is in need of prayer due to the Coronavirus pandemic. There is now a first case of a pastor of CDCC who has contracted COVID-19. This is Rev. Mboyo who is chaplain at the Protestant University in Congo (UPC). This situation affects the whole church.

     

    Rev. Stephen Pedro writes from the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa (URCSA):

    Our government decided that we can re-open our churches and resume with our services, albeit 50 and less people at a given time. Please pray for us for discernment.

     

    Rev. Kisuba Kateghe Ndungo Ezekiel is a missionary of the Communauté Baptist au Centre d’Afrique (CBCA) in Kampala/Uganda and writes that the city is still under lockdown.

     

    And finally, Rev. Mark Beukes from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) writes that while Namibia as a whole is easing lockdown regulations, Walvisbay has gone back into a 7-day total lockdown as of yesterday due to a new outbreak there. In all other parts of the country, worship services with up to 50 participants will be possible again from June 1.

     

    Rev. Boni Kombo has sent us this prayer from the Eastern and Coastal Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT-ECD):

    PRAYER FOR GLOBAL HEALTH

    Our creator and life giving God, we thank you for your work of creation. We admire the beauty and sustainability of your creation purposes; you made a wonderful dwelling place for us. You made it from unformed and desolate, from deep sea and from deep darkness. You turned lonely and deserted place to become such a wonderful garden.

    Lord, you chose us, human beings, to enjoy and take care of the Earth you created. We confess that our responsibilities to take care of your creation have not being enough. Our irresponsibility to take good care of creation has caused many disasters on Earth and caused much pains to us and to our fellow creatures. We pray for forgiveness and healing for what our hands have destroyed. We pray that you grant us healing and health in this beautiful Earth.

    Lord, at this time of COVID-19 Pandemic we unite as global Church in this family of UEM, we cry unto you for healing. We pray for healing of those who are now under attack of Corona virus. We pray that you will protect people who are at high risk of the pandemic, especially our senior elders, refugees in camps, migrants, poverty stricken communities, researchers, nurses and physicians, and all stakeholders trying to respond against this pandemic.

    We pray for health centres, research centres and manufacturers of necessary equipment that all things go well for betterment of our Global and its dwellers. We pray for the World leaders from all spheres of community that they will respond positively to tackle the pandemic, instead of bringing more pains to people and the creation. We pray for healing of economy of many countries affected by this pandemic and any other natural and non-natural calamities.

    Almighty God, we thank you for Jesus Christ, who can give us abundant life now and eternal (John 10:10b). We pray that you grant the Church power of the Holy Spirit so that it will continue preaching your kingdom and Salvation of all human kind through Jesus Christ.

    Glory and Power and Mercy remain yours.

    AMEN.

    +++++++++++

     

    And finally:

    “The Spirit of God, too, is pan-demos. It touches all people and crosses all barriers, yet in a way that spells life, not death.” (From the Pentecost message of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches.

    https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-presidents/pentecost-message-from-the-wcc-presidents-2020/view

  • Prayer Alert - May 22, 2019

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    we are in the third month of pandemic restrictions (Hong Kong is already in the fifth month!) and social distancing, hand washing and face masks in public have become the new normal. With lockdowns and almost no international travel, societies are becoming more inward-looking. This prayer alert is a reminder that we are still the world-wide body of Christ, even though our connections right now are tenuous.

     

    Today, we ask you to pray for the children all over the world. Everywhere, measures to combat the pandemic have had a heavy impact on them.

    Schools are still closed in most countries, and children are not only losing a chance to learn, but frequently also the only proper meal they get during a day.

    In richer countries, schools have turned to online teaching. But this widens the gap between those who have access to smartphones, tablets and laptops, and those who do not.

    Locked up at home, children often have little room for movement and play. Adults around them, who may have lost their jobs and income, are stressed and anxious. Even loving parents can become violent and abusive in such a situation.

    Let us call on Jesus, the friend of children, to protect and bless these vulnerable little human beings!

     

    ******

    From a meditation in German, author unknown:

    While we mourn our closed churches, I ask myself how Jesus is.

    He has been freed from the confinement of bricks and walls, freed to stretch his long limbs of love into the world.

    As we cannot go in to him, I imagine how he is coming out to us.

    I imagine him crossing our cities, wiping away tears with the seam of his garment. Bringing bread to those who need it. Keeping watch over the lonely dying, blessing burning foreheads with the tips of his fingers.

    We long to go back into our churches.

    But Jesus lives and breathes among us, and every oxygen molecule is holy air.

  • Prayer Alert - May 15, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    After the flurry of news from all over the UEM in the last few weeks, things have quietened down. We are all struggling with the new normal of lockdowns and social distancing and all the challenges this brings every day. Life is difficult, worries exhaust us.

    In this situation, let us not forget that despite the distances between us, we are still the One Body of Christ. Let us continue to pray for each other!

     

    Next Thursday we celebrate the festival of Ascension. The UEM General Secretary, Rev. Volker Martin Dally, has written a pastoral letter on this occasion which we want to share with you today.

     

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    I am greeting you in the name of our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

    The festival of Ascension is ahead of us and I am thinking about your individual situation: I wonder in what kind of circumstances you as Sister and Brother of the UEM are spending these days of the pandemic.

     When reading the circumstances of our Lord’s Ascension, I must admit that part of it seems familiar to me during the last weeks:

     

    Acts 1, verses 9 and 10 describe the following:

    …he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven….

     

    Somehow, I imagine the disciples as standing and remaining on the same spot where Jesus was lifted up, looking into the sky – not understanding the situation and asking themselves what to do now. They must have been some sort of perplexed and helpless.

    But then again, our Lord never lets us down or leaves us without guidance:

    Before he was carried up into heaven he 

     blessed the disciples (Luke 24,51), 

    • he instructed them “you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1,8)
    • he gave them joy for their job to do (Luke 24, 52)
    • He showed his authority to do all this because “he sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16,19)
  • Prayer Alert - May 8, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today, we ask you to pray for governments, political and administrative leaders all over the world. As COVID-19 infections are going down in some parts of the world while still rising fast in others, much wisdom is needed to chart a course forward. And day by day, the economic fallout is worsening, forcing difficult decisions.

    Please pray for wisdom, courage and compassion for all those who now have to make decisions on lockdowns, quarantine regulations, and the reopening of economies, that they will protect and support the poorest and most vulnerable groups.

    Here is a very short overview of the situation in all countries of the UEM member churches, mostly gleaned from newspapers and government websites:

    In Germany, numbers of new infections and patients in intensive care are falling, with more than 140,000 already recovered and only about 20,000 active cases. People are grateful that the medical system was able to cope well with the numbers of sick people. Even though, more than 7,000 people have died of COVID-19, most of them elderly. Lockdown conditions have now been loosened: Church services are possible again under strict distance and hygiene rules (communal singing is not allowed!), shops and schools have re-opened with the duty to wear a face mask and to keep a distance of 1.5 meters. Pressure from the population is growing to relax restrictions even further while epidemiologists warn that this could induce a second wave of infections. The economy has been hit hard, but the government will spend hundreds of billions to keep businesses from bankruptcy and people from losing their jobs.

    In Indonesia, a lack of testing facilities makes it impossible to gauge how far infections have spread, but the number of 943 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 has been among the highest in Asia, and there are a total of more than 13,000 confirmed cases in all provinces. Even the remote Mentawai islands now report 3 infections. The national government has stopped the practice of mudik, traveling to visit one’s family during Ramadan. Severe social restrictions have been implemented in parts of Java and Western Sumatra (which includes Mentawai) as well as some bigger cities (e.g. Banjarmasin on Borneo).

    The Philippines were declared under a state of calamity for six months on March 17. Enhanced community quarantine/total lockdown was declared on Luzon Island and in several other provinces, including Negros Oriental with Dumaguete, the Davao Region on Mindanao, and Cebu City until May 1. Since then, this has been extended in Metro Manila, central Luzon and some other areas, while in other places, general community quarantine is imposed. There are more than 10,000 confirmed cases and almost 700 confirmed deaths. There has been much public criticism that testing has been insufficient.

    In Sri Lanka, an island-wide curfew was imposed on March 17, then somewhat loosened in mid-April, and re-imposed from May 6-11 to cover the Buddhist Vesak festival which usually draws great crowds to the streets. Schools and businesses are set to reopen on May 11. Sri Lanka has 824 confirmed cases and 9 confirmed deaths.

    Hong Kong has been very successful in eradicating the virus, with only one case of local transmission in the last 4 weeks, and 60 imported cases. All travelers arriving in the city have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, passengers arriving by air undergo mandatory testing in addition. Restrictions on public life are being eased beginning today, with schools set to open in the next weeks, and businesses, restaurants and cinemas already open under distancing regulations.

    South Africa is the hardest hit country in Africa, with more than 8,200 confirmed cases. Since mid-March, schools and universities have been closed, and since 27 March, a national lockdown has been in force. Since May 1, this has been eased somewhat, but many restrictions are still in place, including the prohibition of travel, public gatherings (except funerals which are limited to 50 participants), and the sale of liquor and tobacco, and the closure of public parks and cultural venues. Masks need to be worn in public. Borders remain closed to tourists.

    Cameroon is the most impacted country in West Africa, with more than 2,000 confirmed cases, half of whom have already recovered. The country closed its borders on March 18, and on 10 April imposed the duty to wear a mask in public. Schools are closed, public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned as well as non-essential travel, and bars and restaurants have to close at 6 p.m.

    Of 271 cases in Rwanda, about half have already recovered, and nobody has died. Rev. Emmanuel Muhozi reports: “On 30 April 2020, the Rwandan government took a decision to relax measures against the spread of New Coronavirus, lifting the full lockdown and embarking on a curfew, where sections of the economy will reopen. These new measures have been started to be observed on Monday 4th May 2020. With the new order, employers have been encouraged to ensure that only essential staff, not exceeding 50 percent of the entire staff, reports to work.  While other all businesses will be closing by 1pm, churches, all schools and universities, bars and other places or activities which gather many people will not open. It has been announced that schools will reopen in September while nothing has been announced concerning the reopening of church worships.”

    Please also note: Heavy rains have hit some parts of Rwanda in the last few days, causing landslides and flooding houses.

    Tanzania has only 480 confirmed cases, with 134 of these on Zanzibar and about 50 in Dar es salaam. All international air travel has been suspended since April 11. But president Magufuli has rejected the need to restrict movement of citizens, claiming stringent social isolation measures would severely damage the economy. While large public gatherings have been banned and schools and universities closed, markets remains open. Magufuli has also encouraged Tanzanians to gather and pray in churches and mosques claiming the coronavirus cannot harm the bodies of the faithful. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania continues with Sunday worship services, but using social distancing and strict hygiene measures.

    On May 2nd, opposition leader Freeman Mbowe called for the suspension of Parliament for at least three weeks after the deaths of three MP's of unknown causes in the previous eleven days. He blamed the deaths on COVID-19 and asked for testing for all MP's, parliament staff and family members.

    DR Congo: A national emergency was called on March 27, with a ban on all trips between the capital and the provinces, and extended for another 15 days on 23 April. 274 infections have been reported from four provinces, with the epicenter in Kinshasa. Kinshasa was put under lockdown on March 26, but restrictions on essential services were eased on 23 April. While most borders remain closed, the border to Zambia was opened to pedestrians today to enable small trade.

    Botswana has only had 23 confirmed cases, but in early April, the National Assembly passed an Emergency Powers Act which allows the president to govern by decree for six months. The state of emergency means that permits are needed for all movements outside of one’s house (including shopping for essentials, work in formal and informal businesses, funerals etc.); these can be applied for online. A step-by-step loosening of these restrictions has been announced and will begin soon. Borders remain closed to tourists until at least the end of May.

    Namibia was under lockdown from 27 March to 4 May, reporting only 16 cases of infection and no death. For the next four weeks, markets and shops are open under strict hygiene rules. Masks must be worn in public, schools and cultural venues remain closed and group sports prohibited. Borders remain closed for tourists until at least the end of June.

  • Prayer Alert - May 5, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Last week, 12 of the UEM Evangelism Contact Persons (ECPs) met via ZOOM videoconferencing software, sharing about their respective situations. While churches remain open in Tanzania and Cameroon, Sunday services have to be held with limited numbers of attendees and social distancing. Consequently, many churches have switched to holding a series of 3, 4 or even 5 shorter consecutive services every Sunday. In all other countries, churches have been closed for worship. All ECPs reported about the severe economic effects of the lockdowns, particularly on church members who live on daily wages. While better-off congregations are collecting and distributing food to those in need, poorer congregations are struggling. Where internet is easily available, Sunday services are streamed. But poorer and more remote congregations do not have strong enough internet, and often lack the necessary funds to pay for an upload.

    Everywhere, there are discussions about how countries can slowly start to open normal life again without being hit by a second wave of the pandemic. It is a time of confusion, conflicting information, unclear options, and a lot of fear, frustration and fatigue.

    Therefore, in today’s prayer alert, we would like to share with you a reflection from the Philippines, published by the Divinity School of Silliman University in Dumaguete, which speaks right into this situation. We pray that God may bless and strengthen all of us and our churches!

     

    “CARING IN THE MIDST OF THE PANDEMIC”

    by Rev. Josuah M. De Rosas

    News will not stop. The number of those infected as well as the death toll continues to climb here in our country and around the world. How we wish we were looking into the tally of scores of sports rather than the statistics of Covid19 cases in affected countries. The chaos, as localities implement government protocols and measures to prevent the situation from getting worse, divided us politically. Becoming apprehensive as well as being anxious is now a regular dose of daily living. This pandemic has shaken our sense of equilibrium and wholeness. We fear of what’s going to be the next worst scenario that we will see. According to an article, mental illness might be the next wave of Covid 19 pandemic if people will not do some concrete essential ways to care for themselves.

    It’s a moral and ethical imperative to care for ourselves and to care for others. We are called to do our part to help so we can get out of this pandemic as soon as possible. Everyone is called to care. But remember, we have all heard it when flying, “In case there is a loss in cabin pressure, yellow oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment above you. Please secure your own mask before assisting others around you. This is a good metaphor to put in mind that we can only save ourselves first, before we can save others. Please take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others well.

    In addition, the apostle Paul writes, “Nobody lives and dies for oneself alone but for others.” And so, we do our part; we stay home, we wear masks, we washed our hands, we practice social distancing, support and obey new protocols and measures of the government, giving our full trust to the competency and capacity of those who are called to do and are experts to lead us through all these. Therefore, we need to care for each other in these times. To care is to mirror God’s life in us as 1 Peter 5: 7 says “Casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

    Caring through our Faith Resources

    As Christians, we look into our faith resources to give us assurance and stability in the midst of uncertainties, chaos and fear. We want to be still from our restlessness and mind wanderings. To be still means to have the fullness of being, full awareness and unmitigated bliss, with that sense of contentment and of not wanting anything. So in coping instinctively we hear more and more vividly from the recesses of our memory some words in the Bible of our God who assures people “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46), and Jesus who calmed the storm with the words, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39), the greetings of the resurrected Christ to the disciples, “Peace be with you!” or simply the phrase “Do not be afraid!” which interestingly is spoken in the entire biblical narrative 365 times. It means we have one reminder every day for the entire year.

    Our Reformed tradition also teaches us to confess that God is sovereign and is in control over the situations of God’s people at all times. Although unpleasant and bad things will happen, God still works with, in, and collaborates with us to bring good things out of the bad situations. All we need is to be aware of what resources we have been given by God and use all means to alleviate the situation.

    Caring Through Nature

    The enhanced community quarantine has offered me opportunities to listen to the silence around me. The stillness of early morning and early evening is palpable as I looked closely and gaze upon the tall, sturdy and imposing acacia trees and variety of trees around the Silliman University campus. Trees exude stillness. They breathe on us and I breathe with them. Rooted deeply into the ground, they stand with the aura of permanence and stability, untroubled by what is going on, meanwhile giving life to their surroundings. They have withstood the test of times and has gone through the different seasons of life through generations. The stillness of the trees and their life- giving presence can be the best metaphor we can learn as we care for each other in this time of pandemic. We need to stand still, deeply connected to the core of our being, grounded and nourished by faith, and spread our branches wide to accommodate all that might take refuge in us.

    Slowing down is also another way to care for ourselves by noticing the environment around us. The different species of birds and the overgrowth of wild flowers, and the changing hue of colors of the leaves in this season, will give us the lesson that life continues and the world is still alive! Take time to notice; stop, look and listen! Nature can teach us what Jesus says to his disciples, “Look at the birds of the air…and the lilies of the field….are you not more than these?” God cares for every single sparrow that falls into the ground…..

    Caring through the “A-B-C of Life”

    A colleague has taught me the A-B-C of life as we live through these days of pandemic. ABC is an acronym which stands for A- Awareness, B- Balance, and C-Connectedness.

    Awareness. We need to be fully aware of what is going on around us and especially of what is going on in our inner life. Are we healthy spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally? What resources do we have? What needs to be done? Remember that they key towards wholeness is awareness!

    Balance. If we have become fully aware of our needs, the response will be to balance our lives. I am glad to see that these days have encouraged people to do some exercise, practice mindfulness, eat healthy, do some art works, gardening and read books and immersed in spirituality by watching worship services and listening to sermons. We also need to balance between the news of the COVID-19 cases and the news of the overwhelming generosity and acts of sacrifice done by our front liners and even ordinary people who touch our hearts and give us hope through their random acts of kindness and compassion to each other.

    Connectedness- Most of all, we need to be fully connected to ourselves, and to our loved ones, and friends. Through social media and technology, we can connect with them, and share each other’s lives even in the virtual world. Acts of generosity and compassion in small or big scale can contribute to our well-being by cultivating empathy towards others. Social media use should be for spreading good news and hope, and a way to advocate better ways to serve the people. We need to check whether what we share to others are not fake news or materials that can agitate and infuse fear others. We need to connect to our faith community to share resources to help those who are in need.

    Finally, these days of pandemic has given us the opportunity to renew our faith in Jesus Christ who cares for us all. We need to stay calm and still, keep the faith, pray without ceasing and work for the good of others. We need to be reminded of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians when he said, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. At the end, it is what a beloved Christian community is all about. God’s love will see us through!

    This meditation is one of a weekly series available on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sudscentennial2021.

     

  • Prayer Alert - May 1, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    This week Wednesday, the Project Committee of the UEM decided to support projects and programs of 32 UEM member churches in Africa and Asia with a total of 1,017,980 Euro. They will support the churches’ work in the following areas:

    • Food, products for personal hygiene, and access to clean water for vulnerable groups of people;
    • Educational campaigns on COVID-19 and how to protect oneself (also countering fake news);
    • Assistance and training for churches to develop online worship services;
    • Support for church-run hospitals and health stations;
    • Support for the production of masks, disinfectant and soap.

     

    Therefore, today we ask you to pray for all of these church programs:

    • For blessing, strength and protection of all those who are moving around to visit people and distribute relief materials and for the staff in church-run health institutions;
    • For open ears and minds of those listening to church radio, TV and social media programs, that people will not fall victim to fake news and false theologies;
    • For clear minds and warm hearts for those who are organizing and administrating programs and projects;
    • That we, as churches, can be a blessing to the people around us for the glory of God.

     

    The following prayer will be prayed in many German churches this coming Sunday:

    Merciful and eternal God, this morning we pray

    • For those who are sick with the Corona virus and fear for their lives, that you will walk with them in life and death.
    • For family members who worry about a sick relative and are desperate because they cannot visit: Comfort and strengthen them.
    • For all those of us who find themselves in great economic troubles and fear for their future, particularly those who depend on daily wages and can no longer work due to lockdowns: That our communities will stay strong enough to carry all who need our help and support.
    • For all overwhelmed parents whose children are not going to school, that they find some breathing space so that they can continue to turn to their children in love.
    • For the children whose education is now interrupted due to the closure of schools and daycare centers, that they will not lose their chances for a good future life.
    • For those who are pregnant and due to give birth, that they will be safe in their great danger.
    • For political and economic leaders, that they will be spurred to serious and responsible action, and that they will find ways to lead the world out of this crisis even in the middle of errors and trials.

    Give us peace, oh Lord in your mercy, in these troubled times!

  • Prayer Alert - April 29, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today our Prayer Alert focuses on Hong Kong. Windvy Yu from CRC writes:

    Our Heavenly Father,

    We pray to you about this world crisis, Corona Virus that is affecting the whole world. God, please save those poor who even do not have enough protective means. Please stand with those medical front liners who put their life lower than the patients. Please help those researchers to have wisdom to develop an effective cure as early as possible.

    God, because you are the LORD, our LORD. 'The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. (Psalms 121:7-8)'

    Thank you LORD that we can still help each other in this hard time. A few weeks ago, we at CRC received a number of masks from the member churches in Indonesia. We really thank these member churches and also the management work by all the colleagues in the Asia Department.

    The virus situation is changed every day. On 31/3, the official report announced that there were 41 new cases that day and now 683 cases in total in Hong Kong. The government launched numerous regulations last Saturday. One of them bans every assembly or meeting which has more than 4 people. That means all the services in Hong Kong are stopped and transferred to an online format. Restaurants are also the victims because they need to ensure each table has only 4 people and each table should have at least 1.5 meter distance from the others. They can only serve half of their capacity. We all know these measures are used to decrease the infected cases.

    LORD, please help our leaders in the government to launch the strategies more wisely. Please also help the church leaders and colleagues to make the appropriate decisions when facing the current situations.  Please be with the brothers and sisters who have to stay at home to attend online service or those in quarantine period. God, please be with us.

     

    In addition to the focus on Hong Kong, we would also like to share with you the concern in several churches for those people who do not have food to eat because they depend on daily wages and are unable to work due to lockdowns.

    Ramesh Fernando reports from Methodist Church Sri Lanka today that pastors, evangelists and lay people are out in force despite the curfew to distribute food to people who are in danger of starving. He also writes that it is difficult to get medication, and that many people with diabetes and high blood pressure are at risk.

    And Bishop Francis Kamerera from EAR/Cyangugu Diocese in Rwanda writes:

    As many of our people are living in extreme poverty and are dependent on casual labor, we are facing another threat of hunger. Parents who normally depend on their daily wage have lost their income and are currently not able to provide a single meal per day to the children.

    As this situation occurs in the days of Lent, we are reminded of Isaiah 58:6-7, where it is written: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: … Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” These verses inspired us to start a project to help our brothers and sisters who are currently struggling to survive. We are raising funds from our own congregations and we are distributing it to the most vulnerable, but it is like a drop in a sea of needs.

    We kindly request for prayers and support as the crisis is so enormous that we cannot handle it alone.

  • Prayer Alert - April 28, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    The Prayer Alert today will focus on pastors and church workers.

    Almost all UEM member churches are now functioning under lockdown or social distancing measures, which means that in most places, usual church work is no longer possible. This puts a lot of pressure on pastors and church workers to keep congregations going and to find new and creative ways of worship.

    Many pastors and church workers have turned to the internet and are producing video messages for social media, sometimes on a daily basis. Worship services are being streamed.

    One of many examples, the Cape Synod of URCSA in South Africa puts out a daily Bible meditation as pdf and video. Yesterday’s video (in English) can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/VEMission/videos/541139823447396/.

    Another example: A team of pastors from Melsungen in Germany recites Psalm 23: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UravhkJxc0U&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0yzQJI14PghBgMGquefvn76udQ67TJTzjYAPupCaUX1-NYPVBJb1nCE6o.

    And, more detailed, this is how the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (EPR) is now working, according to a report by Rev. Emmanuel Muhozi:

    1          The meeting of pastors

    These are held two times a month using WhatsApp groups of pastors of same presbytery. The first meeting is held in the beginning and the second in the middle of the month. The role of these meetings is to acquire same understanding of the message to be delivered to church members and therefore sustaining church unity and identity.

    2          The follow up of church members in the parish

    This is done by the parish responsible. He/she uses the leaders of grassroots churches which are communities of 7 to 10 families of the same neighborhood. Before lockdown, they were meeting once a week in one of the families for Bible study, socialization, discussion on some of their concerns and prayer. Nonetheless, in this time of lockdown the members don’t meet physically. The leader of the grass roots church uses phone calls to know the situation of every family and give them the passage of the Word of God and the message received from the respective parish pastor. The leader informs the pastor of any news from church members (sickness, death, birth, etc…).

    3          Worship in town parishes

    In towns, at least in family, there is smartphone. On Sundays, some pastors conduct services which is followed on YouTube for those who can follow. After the service, they send the sermon in both forms of audio and audio visual. This act of sharing message by audio is common to every pastor in town. Also, every day or at certain times, a pastor prepares a lesson that he sends to the group of church members for sharing. In addition, once per week through a WhatsApp group, the grassroots church members discuss the lesson prepared previously in the booklet.

    4          Worship in rural parishes

    On Sundays, pastors send their parish members the written sermon by SMS. On the day of the grassroots churches, the pastor sends the lesson prepared for the grassroots church members. Using phone short messages, the leader of the grassroots community who has the booklet conducts the discussion on the lesson of the day.

    Please pray for all of these pastors and workers, that God will bless them with creativity and strength, and that the Holy Spirit will use the media to touch people’s hearts.

     

    In areas where few people have access to the internet or even mobile phones, other ways have to be found. Pastors and evangelists report that they are doing a lot of home visiting, bringing Holy Communion to old and infirm people.

    Pastors in UEM member churches are not only involved in parish work. Many of them also are very active helping church members who try to survive without any income under lockdown conditions. Many churches have started to collect food among their members and congregations and are distributing this to those who need it most.

    As one concrete example, Rev. Ramesh Fernando writes:

    At this critical period, we received calls and requests from our members. Some were begging for food. We have members who were living on daily wages. Some of them lost their jobs around March14th because some offices reduced staff from outside. (e.g. cleaning staff). So they do not have money to purchase what they need.

    Others are estate workers. They have locked down these people in their estates. No jobs and no shops to purchase their needs.

    As the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka our President/Bishop decides to start the relief work with the money we have. And some of our members and circuits contributed on this effort.

    As the Department of Evangelism, we have the responsibility for all new areas and mission areas.  I have purchased dry rations from Colombo and managed to travel to Deniyaya, Ampegama, Beruwala, Mahiyanganaya, Awissawella, Kalleliya,Giriulla, Badalgama, and Kovinna.

    My department helped 846 families in these areas. Thank God. And thank you for prayers. Please continue to pray for this work and for me. Because I’m exposed too much on my traveling.

    Please pray for these church workers that they will be given strength, and that they will be protected from being infected or infecting others.

     

    Finally, pastors and church workers themselves are a vulnerable group. Unlike in Germany, where salaries are paid by the church, pastors and evangelists in other parts of the world are mostly supported by local congregations, with income generated through Sunday offerings. With no church meetings possible and congregation members out of income, many pastors and church workers do not get paid any more. At the same time, the cost of food has risen steeply in some countries.

    Please pray for pastors, church workers and their families that God will take care of their needs. Please pray that those who have money and food to share open their hearts and their hands.

     

    In conclusion, this short reflection from Rev. Emmanuel Muhozi:

    In such a situation the word of God builds up our faith and strengthens us in praying.  In John 16:33 it says: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV). This is the conclusion of Jesus on his discourse to the disciples. He uses the words of hope and realism. He has promised his peace which surpasses that available from the world (14:27). To have peace doesn’t mean that ALL IS WELL in one’s life, rather expresses the notion of positive blessing, especially in terms of an accurate relationship with God. Peace is the most valuable blessing Jesus chosen for His disciples and it is still for Christians in all times even in the current situation of COVID-19.

    Peace be with you now and forever! Amen!

  • Prayer Alert - April 24, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today’s UEM prayer alert focuses on the situation of migrant workers in Asia and Germany. They are one vulnerable group that has been severely affected by both the Coronavirus and government responses to the crisis all over the world. Here are just some spotlights on their situation, collected from a number of different sources:

    Hundreds of thousands of women from the Philippines and Indonesia live abroad as domestic helpers. In cities like Hong Kong, social distancing measures mean that many of these women can no longer go outside during their free time. As most domestic helpers live with the family they are working for, usually in extremely cramped quarters, they are now completely isolated from their friends and colleagues. This is a difficult situation in the best of times, but utterly horrible if the employers are oppressive or even abusive.

    In Singapore, male migrant workers are housed in huge dormitories, sleeping twelve to twenty to a room. At least four such dormitories are now under quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreaks. But if these workers cannot go out to work, they also earn nothing.

    The Indonesian Muslim organization Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) has said that about one million Indonesian laborers in Malaysia have not been paid since the lockdown there began on March 18. The NU and other NGOs have been delivering food to these workers, but have been overwhelmed by the needs of people. The NU also reports that about 400,000 of them are no longer able to pay their rents and face eviction from their living quarters.

    In Germany, 40,000 Eastern Europeans have been allowed in on special flights to help harvest asparagus and strawberries. These migrant workers also live in cramped quarters and are often unable to follow the social distancing and hygiene rules that are being enforced in Germany. It is not clear what kind of care such workers will receive when they fall ill (one Romanian worker has already died of COVID-19 in Southern Germany). And if they find conditions unbearable, they have no way of escape as borders are closed and no means of travel back to their homes are available.

    Rev. Dr. Mike Lee of EKiR in Germany works in close contact with migrant churches. He writes:

    International churches suffer financial losses due to the Corona crisis as they are dependent on Sunday offerings. Many are now using online offerings, but these raise far less money. Quite a few congregations now find it difficult to pay rent for the buildings they use, or the salary for their pastor. We pray for their financial support in this time.

    We also pray for equal chances in education for children and youth of immigrants. It is a sad truth that they are disadvantaged when it comes to schooling. We pray for an intercultural opening of education in Germany.

    (In Germany, schools were closed for five weeks and have only started to reopen for small groups of students this week. Online education is offered, but migrant families may not have computers or tablets on which students could do their work.)

     

    In the Bible, we can read that God is very much concerned about migrants. The exodus from Egypt is actually the story of the liberation of a tribe of migrant workers who had to leave their homes due to drought and famine to work under inhumane conditions. Long before Israel was established as a nation, God said: “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their suffering and I have come down to deliver them.” (Ex 3:7-8)

    So today we ask you to pray for migrant workers in Asia and Germany and to remind God to listen to their cries and to come down to deliver them like he delivered his people back then.

    Finally, Rev. Clément Mputu from CADELU in Mbandaka/DR Congo, also asks for prayers:

    We don't have cases of coronavirus in Mbandaka, but people live in great fear. It is a poor city but which does not often experience wars and unrest. Often these are epidemics like Ebola, Cholera and now it's Measles.
    People are afraid because the conditions will be very difficult to fight coronavirus. We need prayer.

  • Prayer Alert - April 21, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,
    Today’s prayer alert does not focus so much on the COVID pandemic, but widens our perspective to other important prayer needs.

    First of all, here is a prayer request from CBCA - Baptist Church in Central Africa (DR Congo). The church’s treasurer, Mr Pascal Munoka, wrote: 
    In several African cultures, it is said: "Misfortune does not come alone". Similarly, since 1997, the Kivu region of the DRC is going through more than twenty-three years of war, insecurity, epidemic diseases like Ebola in 2018 which recently ended but thought to come back again in some parts of the DRC and now the Coronavirus like the whole world.
    This morning of April 17, 2020, information was sent to us that the very populated Uvira region, South Kivu, experienced a torrential rain that fell on the hills and the city of Uvira, leaving great human and material damage. A full report will be made as soon as the rain stops. CBCA correspondents on site are monitoring the situation while they are in confinement because of the Covid-19.
    The concern is that since this heavy rain started at midnight on April 16, 2020, it has strongly continued the day of April 17, 2020. The number of victims is still unknown.
    We have so far only had an oral update on the situation, saying that it is still raining in Uvira, that houses have been destroyed and that people are forced to live in the open.

    The General Secretary of the GPKB in Jakarta, Rev. Darwin Sihombing, also wrote to us:
    We inform you that in Jakarta as the capital of Indonesia, large-scale social restrictions have been implemented which have caused the economy of the church / community to begin to experience unrest. Because GPKB is a member of the UEM where the GPKB head office is located in Jakarta, we are very aware of the events occurring to members of the congregation and the people of Jakarta in general. GPKB has carried out social actions on a small scale even though it is still on a small scale, namely the temporary closing of houses of worship / churches, spraying disinfectants into congregational homes, and distributing masks. 

    Kavira Nganza, a church worker from CBCA in Goma, Eastern Congo, sent us this prayer:
    May God help us all to worship him in spirit and in truth.
    May he let this time of COVID-19 be the end of war in countries and regions of insecurity and successive war. As borders are closed, we hope that weapons of war have no place of circulating. 
    May this be a way of enemies of peace to reflect.
    Our prayer is: 
    Dear Lord, heal all your people from this challenge of COVID-19, protect them and save them, not only from physical hard diseases, but also from spiritual ones. 
    Let all UEM church members be attached to you, Lord. Amen. 

    Bishop Asiri Perera of the Methodist Church Sri Lanka published a video message on Facebook today to commemorate the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka exactly one year ago. (The video can be viewed under https://www.youtube.com/watch…)
    In his video, the bishop called for prayers for the families of those who were killed in last year’s bombing attacks as well as for those whose injuries still have not healed, for those who have remained disabled, and for those still suffering from trauma.
    Speaking about the fact that the government had prior warning of the attacks but did not inform the churches, the bishop asked that we should not only pray for God’s comfort and healing for the victims, but also for God’s power and authority to be brought over those who are hiding the truth about these attacks. People should pray for them to confess and to be brought to justice by the authorities.
    The bishop also asked for prayers for the ongoing investigations in the attacks, so that the truth about them would be revealed to the victims and all those affected. He added that we should also pray for those who are supporting the victims and their families that they would be strengthened in their encounter with the authorities.

    The final word today goes to the Moderator of the UEM, Rev. Dr. h.c. Willem Simarmata. He has written a pastoral letter that we would like to share with you all:
    I am humbly wishing you: Have a blessed Easter! The word of God confirms it: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1. Corinthians 15:57) 
    I hope you all are well and remain fit especially amidst a calamity of the Covid-19. Our world is shaken by the Covid-19. The global churches must cancel their Sunday services and regular ministries; employees must work from home and discontinue their products; schools and any educational institutions are locked; business centers and economic activities from small to large scales muss halt their operations; national borders are closed and the recent numbers of infected people have reached more than 2 million people. Most of the global countries have been affected by the outbreak of this virus. The rich countries are also not prepared to anticipate its mortal impacts. We are even more worried on the countries with financial and health systems limitations including the refugees, which could make the outbreaks even worse. We are like the disciples of Jesus who were afraid and hopeless as the Messiah was crucified and buried. Hopelessness, anxiety, sorrow and death have been our daily realities. 
    My brothers and sisters, but please be aware that our Christianity was not shaped in the comfort situations, but rather in the climate of sorrow, persecutions and death. However, the history tells us, that the number of first Christians even grew up in the midst of a crisis. Indeed, the risen Christ was the one who strengthened and uplifted their spirits to proclaim the Gospel and to live as the true Christian communities. 
    Dear friends, may the resurrection of Jesus Christ grant us strength and peace among the UEM families. I realize that many people do not have any serious concern with the virus. The largest troubles for them are massive poverties, high unemployment, and economic recession as consequences of the outbreak. However, I draw your attention to follow firmly the instructions from our own governments and from the global health institutions. Let us discipline our self to obey physical distancing as well as to live in healthy physical, mental, and spiritual conditions, so that the comprehensive healings would be fulfilled soon. 
    As the faithful communities in Jesus Christ we are called to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). I am touched by the decision initiated by the UEM Management Team to donate One Million Euro to ease the burdens of our member churches in Asia and Africa which have been enormously affected by the pandemic. Moreover, I am asking you to elevate our Christian solidarity and social responsibilities to contribute more financial donations to UEM. UEM community which celebrates the Easter means that we are all courageous and convinced to overcome the valley of insecurity and depressions, as togetherness in the risen Christ is our strength. 
    Let us enhance our fellowship and intensify habits of the digital technologies in the time of physical distancing. In this turbulent phase we are called to develop our networks in many creative ways. I do thank you for posting the Prayer Alerts regularly which means for me that UEM is the praying community. Let us also pray for our friends who dedicate their life to serve us: medical workers, farmers, mail carriers, public transporters, etc. I conclude my Easter message with the words of the angels on the day of Jesus´s resurrection: “Do not be afraid ….. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6).

  • Prayer Alert - April 20, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    After the long daily prayer alerts before Easter and a one-week break, we are sending you a shorter alert today. Next week, there will be two prayer alerts, on Tuesday and on Friday.

     

    The following prayer requests come from UEM Evangelism Contact Persons in different regions as well as some local pastors. All of them remind us that the workers dependent on daily wages are the hardest hit in the current crisis.

    Rev. Joko Mahendro writes from GKJTU in central Java: As far as I know, Java (especially Jakarta and surrounding cities) is really rapidly affected of this pandemic. Many people are suffering because of losing a family member. Nowadays, many people are also losing their jobs. As pastor in the village, with other friends, I am trying to do some social actions. Next week we are collecting vegetables from the congregants that would like to share with the other. We will distribute it for some people in Salatiga which is now really in need charity relief. Please pray for this small action that my church is going to do.

    Rev. Ramesh Fernando from the Methodist Church Sri Lanka writes in a similar vein: Please pray for daily waged people! They are suffering without their medications and food.

    Superintendent Rev. Shukuru Maloda of the ECD in Zanzibar: We are well but not very well because we have 88 cases all over Tanzania of which 11 are from Zanzibar. We are worried because of the people who go to work, many fall under per day allowances; they cannot afford a total lockdown. We interact a lot in public transport dalala and in the market places. The families are much afraid of the situation. 

    I am sharing the situation so you remember us in prayers. 

     

    Rev. Dr. Anna Pangaribuan, Head of Marturia Department of HKBP in Sumatra reminds us that it is not only COVID-19 that makes people suffer:

    North Sumatra is in a bad condition not only because of Covid 19 (red zone) but also the weather too. A part of Samosir Island was struck by a tornado yesterday, and in other parts of Toba region, we had hailstorms. In nine villages around Laguboti, houses were damaged.

    Rev. Herta Manik from Ambarita (Samosir Island) adds that the church building and several houses of HKBP church members in the village were badly damaged by the tornado and heavy rain.

     

    Rev. Talla Waffo from EEC in Cameroon has this to say: We continue with partial containment where people can go out (to the market or to the office). Since Monday it's an obligation for every citizen to wear a mask before going out. Also the social distancing and hygienic rules are to be respect at all. At each market, church and public service entrance there are washing and disinfection devices. The school is still closed. The churches are open but with a ban on gathering more than 50 people at the same time. So far we have in all the country 878 cases with 165 cured and 17 deaths.

    Finally, from Germany I ask you to pray for the women and children suffering from increased domestic violence due to the lockdowns. This is something we hear from all over the world.

    At the end of his e-mail, Rev. Shukuru Maloda reminds us of our hope:

    All in all God is great. He shall take all of us through this tragedy like He did to the Israelites when crossing the red sea. 

    God bless you all. Stay home stay safe.

  • Prayer Alert - April 9, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today our prayer alert focuses on updates and prayer requests from UEM Wuppertal, Germany (EKvW), Indonesia (BNKP, GKI Tanah Papua), the DRC(ECC, CBCA), Tanzania (KAD, NWD) and Rwanda (EAR).

    UEM Wuppertal published eight posters for eight festivals:

    Church celebrates.

    Good Friday is not cancelled. Easter is not cancelled.

    Even if there are no church services: Church celebrates.

    That God is near, especially in suffering and death.

    And that he has conquered death.

    That there is hope.

    And that's why we share our message.

    Eight posters for eight festivals.

    https://www.vemission.org/en/weiterbilden/kirche-feiert.html

                                                                                                                                                           

     

    From Germany:

    There are many international networks of communication, prayer and support, and these are growing.  They link people all over the world in these times of lockdowns and distancing. One example is the “Ecumenical Hangout”:    

    Hi friends around the Globe,

    please feel invited for the second Global Ecumenical Hangout!
    This time we will share about celebrating Easter in Coronatimes. 

    The Global Ecumenical Hangout is a digital ecumenical space for mutual exchange, reflection and support of each other. It started in March 2020, when people from Christian networks came together via Zoom to share about how our daily life changed due to Corona. 

     

    What can you expect: We come together in the group of all participants for prayers - and in groups of two, face to face, for a personal sharing. God gave us a spirit of love! And when we connect and share, we will learn from each other and become empowered! The event is open for people from other or none faith backgrounds, if they like to pray with us. 

     

    Many of the participants asked for a next meeting. So here it comes:

     

    Thursday, 9 April 2020, 2:00 pm UTC+2 (MEZ)

    For local times, please check examples below or a timezoneconverter.

    For this week, 9 April, the dial-in link is: 

    https://zoom.us/j/667374400?pwd=WTNkMUVZQ1R2TThpazR6bGFuV3I4Zz09 

    Meeting ID: 667 374 400

    Password: 368267

    There is also a Facebook Group “Global Ecumenical Hangout”. Please join it and check the dial-in information for the next Hangouts on Thursday, 23 April, 7 Mai and 21 Mai 2020.

    We are looking forward seeing you at the #globalecumenicalhangout

    Carolin, Christina, Lioba (Germany) and Mathew (India)

    San Francisco 5:00 am

    New York City 8:00 am

    Buenos Aires 9:00 am

    Lomé, London, Accra,Yaoundé 1:00 pm

    Berlin, Paris, Belgrad, Kapstadt, Kigali, Windhoek, Lusaka 2:00 pm

    Minsk, Nairobi, Daressala 5:00 pm

    Neu Delhi, Colombo 6:30 pm

    Yogyakarta, Jakarta 7:00 pm

    Hongkong, Manila 8:00 pm

    Jayapura 9:00 pm

     

    From Germany:

    From the Homepage of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia (https://www.evangelisch-in-westfalen.de):

    In North Rhine-Westphalia, on Easter Sunday at 9.30 am, all bells of the protestant and catholic, of the free and orthodox churches will be rung.  The joint sounds of the bells shall express the Easter-joy about the victory of life, especially in these times of the pandemic. At 10.15, all who play organs, the piano, brass- or other instruments, are called to a “flashmob in distance”: They are called to play simultaneously “Christ ist erstanden (“Christ has risen”, a traditional and well known German Easter-hymn), in their gardens, on the balconies, or in front of the open windows of their homes.

    In Nordrhein-Westfalen läuten am Ostersonntag ab 9.30 Uhr außerdem die Glocken der evangelischen und katholischen Kirchen. Auch die freikirchlichen und orthodoxen Gemeinden schließen sich dieser ökumenischen Aktion an. Das gemeinsame Geläut soll gerade in Zeiten der Pandemie die österliche Freude über den Sieg des Lebens zum Ausdruck bringen. Um 10.15 Uhr, im Anschluss an den Fernsehgottesdienst, sind Bläser, Sängerinnen, Organisten und Pianistinnen zu einem „Flashmob auf Sicherheitsabstand“: aufgerufen: Das alte Osterlied „Christ ist erstanden“ soll dann überall in Deutschland erklingen – am offenen Fenster, auf dem Balkon oder im Garten.

     

    News from Juliman Harefa, Team leader COVID-19 Of STT Sundermann BNKP prevention task force team:

    The situation and condition of Coronavirus (COVID-19)  in Nias.  In Nias Island, there are 565 people in monitoring (ODP) are people who have a fever (≥ 38oC) or symptoms of respiratory system disorders such as colds / sore throats/cough and in the last 14 days before the symptoms arise have a history of travel or living in the country/region report local transmission. In the city of Gunungsitoli, there are currently 250 ODP people.  Thank God to date on April 3, 2020, there have been no residents infected or suspect with  COVID-19.

    In preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, The Bishop and General Secretary of BNKP Synod officer applied instructions from the President, the Police Chief of the Republic of Indonesia, the Governor, the Regent, the Mayor, and the PGI, which extended the social/physical distancing period by giving a circular stating that Sunday worship services and all church services were involving many people was carried out in the homes of each congregation until 29 May 2020 to break the chain of distribution of COVID-19.

    The BNKP Sundermann Theological Seminary is closed until the date of termination from 30 March - 29 May 2020. Civil servants work from home and school holidays until 21 April 2020. 

    Please pray for this situation, so COVID-19 will not spread to the Nias islands. People stay home and work from home safely.

    Thank you for your care and attention for us in Nias.

     

    Rev. Andrikus Mofu – Chairperson of GKI Tanah Papua wrote for call of prayer:

    Heavenly Father, already many people here in Papua suffer from infection with the Coronavirus. Protect our people and all others that You gave to us as our neighbors, that we shall not perish. 

    Lord, have mercy on our Papuan “mamas”, especially those who have small commercial enterprises that have to shut down in these times of crises. They no longer have any income. Let them not fall into poverty which could cause death in their families.

    God, we can no longer worship in our churches, but we rejoice because our members make family-altars at home. Their houses become centers of prayer and praise to You. Please receive the expressions of our faith, that we may not loose our trust in You during this catastrophe.

    Praise be to You for You move many hearts for charity. Your children help their neighbors, congregations and authorities help the students in their dormitories, many poor and needy enjoy acts of solidarity

    In Your caring hands we submit our physicians and nurses, who work day and night in their hospitals and clinics to help those who suffer. Protect them, oh Lord, from sickness and death.

    We pray especially for the millions of patients all over the world who are racked with pain, both those in hospitals but also those who cannot get medical treatment because of a lack of facilities; we pray for their families and friends who are afraid and desperate; we pray for those who mourn the loss of a beloved one whom their could not even meet for a last time, nor provide them with a proper funeral.

    Oh almighty Healer, grant wisdom, skill and strength to the scientists to develop a vaccine in a short time, so that many vulnerable people may be protected or healed from Covid 19.

    Merciful God, you are the great Listener of prayers. Receive our intercessions. Amen.

     

    The President of the Christ Church in Congo (ECC) in the DRC, Rev Dr Bokundoa Andre, sent a recorded song in French with the following translated words in English,

    Please read as you pray:

     

     
    1. When comes a strong storm                                                                                            
      to darken your blue sky
      Instead of lowering your head
      Count the blessings of God!

     

    Refrain:

             Set before your eyes
             all the blessings!

            You will see while worshiping
            how great the number is!

     

     
    1. When on the slippery road
      you totter under the cross
      Think of that mighty hand
      who blessed you so many times!


              Refrain:

               Set before your eyes
              all the blessings!
              You will see while worshiping
              how great the number is!

     

     
    1. If you lose in the trip
      more than a dear and sweet treasure
      think of the divine heritage
      who, at the highest you still have!

     

    Refrain:

              Set before your eyes
              all the blessings!
             You will see while worshiping
             how great the number is!

     

     

     

    The President and Legal Representative of the CBCA- Baptist Community in the Center of Africa, the Rev. Dr Samuel Ngayihembako wrote:

     

    Here are some sentences by way of theological reflection and prayer that I offer to the UEM family at this Coronavirus and Easter times: 

     

    Praise for the house church at this time of the Coronavirus pandemic.

    A French expression says that something good can come from a misfortune (“à quelque chose malheur est bon”). Since our governments recommended the containment of the population and prohibited large gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19, we immediately understood that we must return to smaller prayer groups, in family cells. We have thus found places of communion, sharing, prayer and listening to the Word more effective than large gatherings in crowded temples, where many came to listen to the choirs, to follow whatever an eloquent speech by the pastor, a little bit like in concert halls or shows.

    Indeed, in these family cells, the father or the mother or the family member more knowledgeable in reading or studying the Bible directs his family in devotion and sharing of the Word, using the mother tongue and a language known to all, adapted and therefore well understood by each and every member of the family. In these cells, there is no gender segregation or conflict between social classes. There is no place for the snobbery of those who display their assets and reduce the needy. The noise of improperly used musical instruments is not there and the calm proper to true meditation before God reigns there. It is therefore more effective for mutual edification and truer, far from the hypocritical appearances of the official officiants of our large gatherings. We found the house church which, in early Christianity, trained trainers of committed and engaging disciples, fostered the spread of Christianity and resisted the terrible and successive waves of persecution.

     

    In this Easter period, we are going to live a true symbolism of the Jewish Passover, each family in prayer, locked up in their house, asking to be delivered by the shed blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and who delivers us from the death. In there, our meals will be taken as an agape where parents and their children really share this love of Christ who watches over us.

     

    My prayer is this Easter be for us a holiday "of the pass over" the houses of the people of God and therefore a party of avoiding death (cf. Ex 12: 21-27).

     

    May the Lord keep you and grant you a quiet Easter time.

     

                 

    Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) - Tanzania:

    Bishop Dr Benson Bagonza of the ELCT KAD- Karagwe Diocese wrote:

    Greetings from Karagwe Diocese                                              

    Beloved brothers and Sisters in Christ

    We join UEM family to pray for the world under siege of Corona Virus. On Wednesday (1. April) , we held a diocesan prayer day. From 2.45pm, church bells, drums, sirens and other music instruments were activated for 15minutes all over the diocese. All people stood for 5 minutes wherever they were. They prayed, cried and sung. Then prayer intersessions were offered in all churches. The turn up was overwhelming and mostly held outside churches.

    As part of the country, we are standing on the critical and moral crossroad. The government has not locked down nor ordered churches to close. Church authorities have issues directives to effect liturgical and traditional set up in the churches. It is still not enough. We have 20 infected people nationally and 1 of them from Karagwe Diocesan area. Pray for our wisdom and responsibility in these trying times. We educate, we reach out and get ready for the support. Resources are not enough. The national leadership is tested beyond measure. We solicit your support and prayer

     

    UEM Vice Moderator, ELCT- NWD Bishop Dr. Abednego Keshomshahara, Bukoba, Tanzania sends the following prayer:

    Heavenly God, we ask you to help us in this context of the corona pandemic disease which is killing many people worldwide.  We request you to heal those who are sick, help to prevent others from contracting this virus. Comfort those whose relatives have died of the virus.

    Help scientists to discover vaccination and medicine for cure. Help the people to abide with the medical precautions for prevention.

     Help our countries to get necessary medicine that treats the symptoms of Coronavirus, help our countries to access equipment for medics. Help our doctors and nurses to take care of the virus victims with love and dedication. 

    Protect doctors and nurses against the disease as they serve people.

    Provide people with tolerance as they experience curfew, unusual life during times of corona virus and higher prices of some basic needs. 

    We thank you for those who have recovered from the virus. This shows your presence and hope of overcoming this disease.

    We ask all these in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

     

    The Rev. Venant Ntakirutimana of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, Diocese of Shyogwe wrote:

    Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus  Christ, Greetings from the Anglican Church of Rwanda/ Shyogwe Diocese. Like many countries around the world, Rwanda also has been affected by Covid-19 and today Rwanda counts 89 infected people, none yet recovered and none yet died.  Since March 15th, all the country is restricted to lock-downs. There is no allowed gathering of people including worship gatherings, markets and all shops are closed, no work in office, taxi motorcycles and vehicles don't work, only some shops for food and pharmacy are still open. Since people cannot go out for work, those whose lives depend on day to day income are suffering from hunger. The government tries to provide a little help to the very vulnerable and our parishes in Shyogwe dioceses have been trying to collect some help to the poorest people in the surroundings. It is the right time also for the church to demonstrate the love of God through the congregants’ mutual support and congregations donating food to the poor. Again, without worship services and offerings, the church worries also about salaries of pastors which depended on local churches' offerings.  About evangelism work, Christians have been encouraged to have family worship services at home and Pastors try to spread brief bible messages in WhatsApp groups or send SMS. Some pastors try to share recorded video sermons on WhatsApp groups.  Please join us in prayers as we pray for people’s mutual help to overcome hunger, for leaders’ courage and fruitful decision making, for nurses and doctors for health, strength and courage to treat the sick, and for pastors to maintain hope as they spiritually care for believers. We pray God for healing all people around the world of their fear, depression from isolation, hunger and the pandemic itself.

     

     

    A Prayer by the One World Centre in Herne, EKvW for Easter Day:

     

    Lord, our Father,

    Lead us all out this Easter morning,

    as you did on Easter Day in Jerusalem,

    out of the locked grave and through closed doors into the light of the new day.

     

    See the plight of your people worldwide at this time,

    who want to celebrate the new life together on this day

    and are not allowed to do so, because of the regulations in almost all countries. 

    For all of us, let Easter be part of our everyday life,

    as we can see in many people and their deeds of hope,

    so that we become encouraged to try new things and defy old habits.

     

    In the end, like the women at the grave,

    let us find ourselves strengthened and encouraged in all our grief and fear.  

    Like the new morning you come to us

    into our world now marked by the disease.  

    But perhaps soon again we will be full of strength to carry on your message

    like the women did on Easter morning.

    Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - April 8, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today our prayer alert focuses on updates and prayer requests from four countries: Indonesia (STT Sunderman, GKPI, GKE), the DRC ( CDCC), Cameroon (EEC)  and Germany.

    Fotani Ziliwu from STT Sunderman BNKP wrote:

    According to government data that there is still no positive infection with the covid-19 virus in Nias, but hundreds of people who have just come from outside Nias are under surveillance. They came from the infected areas in Indonesia (Jakarta, Batam, Medan) and some Indonesian workers who were back from Malaysia.

    The government and various elements of society (including the church) are working together against the spread of covid-19. The things done are for example social/ physical distancing, washing hands, healthy lifestyle and so on. Classroom learning in schools is closed, replaced by home learning (online). Worship in the church is replaced by worship at home. The government has appealed to stay at home but in reality there are still many people difficult to do it fully because of economic problems.

    Please pray for us.

    -        People keep staying alert but not in panic.

    -        Groups that are very vulnerable, for example: the elderly, pregnant women, infants and children.

    -        People who are increasingly experiencing economic difficulties due to this situation. The price of basic necessities has been higher.

    -        Students and teachers who are still experiencing difficulties in the home or online learning.

    -        Health facilities and health workers in Nias which are still limited to face the spread of this virus.

    -        Devotions in homes can go well, and Christians can continue to grow in faith on this difficult situation.

     

    Rev. Teddy Sihombing, GKPI pastor, a UEM scholarship holder and member of the UEM international study program last year share the news:

    Provided help to members of the congregation, who affected by the corona virus pandemic. They are informal workers who cannot work after the Indonesian government calls for "social distance". My wife and I give food aid from church donations and pray for them that God give them strength throughout this situation. So this help is "from members to members".

     

    Rev. Wardinan S. Lidim, general Chairperson of GKE wrote:

    We do hope that pandemic covid- 19 as soon as possible the end up and our daily activities will be normally usually. In this bad situation, all of us as member big families of UEM must take care our health. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

     

    From the DRC, Mbandaka City, President Eliki Bonanga writes:

    COVID-19: situation in DRC and position of the CDCC.

    Since the first case of COVID-19 had been identified in Kinshasa, the message has spread in the whole country but people were not very aware of what the situation had to become. From radio and social media, they already heard about it but they thought it was a Chinese disease. And when it touched DRC, some people claimed on streets that authorities were creating a situation in which they wanted to earn money from the International community. Unfortunately, the first case is always identified when other contacts have already been infected. Then, other cases were reported and even death. Then, the population understood that it was also a local issue.  It was time of fear and consciousness.   In a city like Kinshasa, infectious disease is more than catastrophe.  COVID-19 spread very fast that from March 10th, the current situation reports 123 confirmed people and 11 dead (25 days later).   With such exponential growth, in order to prevent the rest of the population, the government took severe measures such as:

    1.    Suspending public meetings: cultural events, church meetings including the Sunday services;

    2.     Closing all the schools;

    3.    Forbidding the funeral meetings in the temples as well as in families;

    4.    Encourages people to maintain hygienic practices (washing hands with soap, not shaking each other hands,  not touching  mouth, eyes and nose especially after blowing one’s nose) ;

    5.    Encourages people to stay at home and avoid direct contacts.

    The problem is that, it is possible that these decisions and even the additional measure of isolating Kinshasa, closing frontiers and suspending travels (flights and shipping) have been taken after some other infected people had already gone in Provinces. It is the case of the Kivu where Bukavu City reports two confirmed cases and the North Kivu one case.

    Position of CDCC:

    In solidarity with all the CDCC partners, brothers and sisters:  

    ·         We are listening to Paul who says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7);

    ·          Then, we believe God will not abandon us because He says: “…Can a women forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you” (Isaiah49:15);

     

    In this trust, despite the high risk the world is exposed to, and considering the local context of the equatorial forest, CDCC:

    ·Commits for campaigning against COVID-19 through community education on what is COVID-19, how to contaminate it, how to avoid it, what to do in case the community identifies a suspect case,…

    ·Is aware of the necessity of mobilizing necessary equipment and basic  medicines for the community health stations,

    · Fully supports the measures already fixed by the Government for more prevention.

    Therefore, CDCC has established a multi-sectorial team to coordinate the church action against COVID-19. It is headed by Dr Bosolo (the Coordinator of Medical Department) and will have the charge of:

    -       sensitizing the population of Equateur, Tshuapa and Maindombe using media and other means which limit interpersonal contacts, 

    -        promoting hygiene in the community health stations, and even educate population on hygienic issues in their living places;

    -        Equipping the community health stations in necessary materials and basic medicines,

    -       Providing special services to the confined population in Kinshasa.

    Notice: 

    Regarding the context, and the necessity of reaching all the corners of the church perimeter, CDCC intends working (if possible) in the following geographical areas:

    1.    Area 1: Mbandaka (Mbandaka, Bolenge, Bikoro, Boyeka, Ingende, Lukolela, Dianga, Bolomba, Basankusu);

    2.    Area 2: Basse-Tshuapa (Monieka, Eungu, Boende, Lofoyi, Wema, Wini, Befale, Djeera).

    3.    Area 3: Haute-Tshuapa (Bokungu, Mondombe, Lokina, Lofoome, Ikela, Loombo, Opala),

    4.    Area 4: Moboyo (Lotumbe, Mangilombe, Ifumo);

    5.    Area 5: Kiri (Kiri and Inongo);

    6.    Area 6: Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Kikwit, Matadi),

    7.    Area 7: Ubangi (Bosobele, Ubangi).

    CDCC trusts in God and believes that fighting together will be the solution against COVID-19.

     

    From the EEC Cameroon, the Rev Jacques Ngahne shares:

    An update of the situation of Covid 19 in Cameroon. Since Monday we have reached 650 cases. Maybe you remember last week when I sent you a report, there were 280 cases.

    Two members of our Parish passed away last week. A doctor on Friday, a lawyer on Sunday. What is terrible is the impossibility of being nearby the family in these circumstances. So sad.

    Lord, we look for your strength!

    From Germany: the following prayer is shared:

    Good God, the Corona crisis frightens us.  We never had such a situation before.

    All over the world, people are becoming ill. And many more stay at home or in distance to each other, so that they do not transmit the virus.

    I ask you: Stay with us in this situation. Be with those who are sick and those who are at risk and with all those who care for them. Help us to remain calm. Help us to show solidarity with those who need our protection.

    Good God, let this Corona crisis pass soon.  And grant us now courage and hope.

    (Beate Hirt, https://www.kirche-im-hr.de/aktuelles/2020/gebet-in-der-corona-krise/

  • Prayer Alert - April 7, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Our prayer alert today focuses on four countries: Germany with a prayer for Rwanda, today is the beginning 26th commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi

    (April-July 2020) , the UCCP in the Philippines and ELCT-ECD Tanzania.

    From Germany, Rev Bukowski Sylvia of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland (EKiR) sent the following prayer for Rwanda, please join:

    Lord of the world,

    you promise to be close to the people,

    a protector of the weak. 

    But where have you been

    when the big murder started

    in Rwanda?

    Didn't you hide your face,

    didn’t you hide your presence,

    didn’t you keep silent about the cries of the victims

    who were left defenceless, even in the churches?

     

    Now, 26 years later, we pray to you 

    for the survivors of the genocide:

    Until this day, most of them are marked

    by the horror

    in which they have lost everything:

    loved ones,

    a safe home,

    and trust in one another. 

    Don't deny them your comforting presence.

    Help them

    when by remembering the wounds tear open again. 

    Put people by their side

    who listen to them

    without avoiding their pain.

     

    God, judge of the world,

    we command your righteousness

    to the murderers and their accomplices,

    many of them still without remorse,

    embroiled in lies and coward excuses. 

    Lead them to understand their guilt

    and make new beginnings possible

    from sincere confession.

     

    God, we also pray for us:

    Yes, we were shocked

    when we heard and saw

    what was happening in Rwanda at the time. 

    But we quickly forgot it

    because new things are overwhelming us daily. 

    God, we often feel so helpless

    facing the magnitude of suffering! 

    And now the fear of Corona

    keeps our eyes on what is happening elsewhere.

    Lead us out of the confines of our thinking

    and save us from resignation.

     

    Bless the peacemakers

    and those who work for reconciliation.

    Hold your protecting hands over Rwanda

    and heal the wounds of all nations. 

    Turn to us and connect us across all borders

    in the hope for your mercy.

    AMEN.

     

    From the Philippines: Rev. Frank J. Hernando, Executive Secretary of the UCCP wrote:

    Greetings in God’s reassuring peace and love!

    We are indeed grateful for the UEM’s initiative in praying for the countries including the Philippines.

    The most recent data on the COVID-19 infections, deaths and recovery is disclosed by CNN Philippines online news portal:

    Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — Nine more Filipinos have died from the coronavirus disease in the country, bringing the nationwide death toll to 54, the Department of Health reported Friday. In its 4:00 p.m. bulletin, the DOH confirmed 96 new cases of the viral disease. The country now has a total of 803 cases. Three more patients have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 31 recoveries.

    The government has ordered enhanced community quarantine in the entire northern island of Luzon since March 15 and followed suit by provincial and municipal government in the entire country. Because of the lock down intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus, public transport was totally shut down, flights coming in and out of domestic and international airport have been drastically reduced and will be totally locked down in the coming days.

    Daily wage workers and those in the informal economy, sidewalk vendors, tricycle drivers and others have been severely affected such as losing income and running out of food supply and scrambling for cash they can eke out from odd jobs they can do to get cash. Local government units have supplied basic food assistance consisting of five kilos of rice and two or three cans of sardines for three to four days. Other Local Government Units (LGUs) have given generous food supplies.

    The UCCP along with progressive and concerned sectors of society has been advocating for “mass testing” for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 virus so that people will get proper and speedy diagnosis and medical and health support services can be offered.

    Also, the UCCP Office of the General Secretary (OGS) has issued a pastoral statement and guidelines how to face the pandemic and protect the communities from catching the virus. Church services were suspended and house church worship services have been encouraged. Financial assistance to poor and needy church workers will be given to alleviate their dire economic situation.

    We are also encouraging church hospitals to respond appropriately to the COVID-19 pandemic. Relief assistance service is underway which will be done in coordination with the government Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

    We didn’t missed emphasizing the state’s primary responsibility in these times of great need of the people especially those in the lower social strata of the Philippine society.

    We pray that’s healing will flow forth like the biblical imagery of the healing balm in Gilead. +

     

    From the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania- East and Coastal Diocese (ECD), the Dean Rev Chediel Lwiza writes:

    Bwana Yesu asifiwe (Praise the Lord).In Dar es Salaam, people continue to attend places of worship with precautions of washing hands by either using: water and soap, treated water, or/ and sanitizers. This is done before entering the church and afterwards. Religious leaders also insist their followers to adhere to health directives.

    The ECD is careful about misleading theologies regarding the pandemic. The ECD believes that apart from all human beings efforts, still in God there is complete healing. The church thus encourages church members to fast and pray for God’s intervention. Ash Wednesday is one of the most dedicated days for fasting and prayers. The ECD insists on praying for all nations.

    The ECD is using Upendo Media (newspaper, radio, television, and social media) to reach community with the Gospel and educative messages at this time, where week day’s church services in place of worship have been suspended. There are pastors who have been assigned each day to share the significant of Jesus suffering and the Love of God to human being. The ECD through Upendo Media is developing contextual biblical messages of hope, trust and confidence and display them through the television. Through Upendo Newspaper there are selective educative articles from physician and theologians, shared to community regarding the pandemic.

    Furthermore, the ECD is admonishing Congregants to send messages of encouragement and hope through their social media. The Tanzanian government has started to impose stringent restrictions to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. In the public transport it insists level sits, motorcycle, popular as "Bodaboda," have been allowed to ferry passengers into and out of the city centre, public gatherings including schools, sports and music events, political meetings, and community events are still suspended.

    To date, the Tanzanian ministry of health has confirmed the country's first death from Covid-19. The patient was a 49-year-old Tanzanian man, who had other underlying health conditions. The number of corona virus cases in Tanzania is still 19.

     

    Prayer

    Our God who art in heaven, you are the Alfa and Omega. Your Word, the Bible, shows your immense care and mercy for your whole creation, and especially for each one of us. You care for us, and promised that you will not forsake us, and that you want us to spend eternity with you. You gave us your only beloved Son that whosoever believes Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

    You confirmed to your nation Israel when was in exile through your prophet Jeremiah that your thoughts toward them was peace and not evil, to give them a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11). You also promised that "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14). Lord, God, you have assured us that eventhough we walk through the darkest valley, we need not to fear no evil, for you are with us, and your rod and your staff, they comfort us. Lord God, we confess our sin and humbly ask you to hear our prayers and heals us from corona pandemic.

    We pray for people who are infected with COVID-19 or facing quarantine. We pray for people at higher risk of developing the disease. We pray for people who are dying now because of corona virus, to die in your hands. We pray for medical professionals and caregivers to handle those who are suffering in a Godly way. We pray for researchers responsible for corona antiviral to invent it. We pray for wisdom for leaders responsible for making decisions about how to face this pandemic. We pray for consolation, hope and trust to the LORD for families whose loved ones have rest to eternity.  We pray for business, our economy, we pray for families facing financial stress. We pray for the disease to stop spreading. We pray for your guidance on how we can help each other and how we can care people affected by the new corona virus. We pray as apostles did to you Lord, "to increase our faith!" in this devastating situation.

    We pray all these in the Name of your Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Shalom.

  • Prayer Alert - April 6, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Our prayer alert today focuses on three countries, Germany, Indonesia and Rwanda. It will end with a short meditation from South Africa.

    From Germany, one thought and a prayer were shared by the Evangelical Church of Hesse and Nassau:

    Not all has been cancelled

    Life has not been cancelled

    Spring has not been cancelled

    Summer has not been cancelled

    Autumn has not been cancelled

    Smiling has not been cancelled

    Reading has not been cancelled

    Praying has not been cancelled

    Singing has not been cancelled

    Writing letters has not been cancelled

    Talking has not been cancelled

    Dreaming has not been cancelled

    Consoling has not been cancelled

    The future has not been cancelled

    Faith has not been cancelled

    Love has not been cancelled

    Hope has not been cancelled

    Gratefulness has not been cancelled

    (Found, taken up and thought further during the Corona crisis by Günther Ruddat)

     

    Our heavenly father,

    Through your spirit we are united in faith, hope and love.

    Even if we are isolated and lonely in these times–

    We belong to the worldwide community of your children.

     

    Let grow our faith that you are always close to us and let us experience that we are one with our sisters and brothers all around the world.

    Uplift those who are sick.

    Lighten the hearts of those who are lonely.

    Grant wisdom and courage to those who bear responsibility.

    Strengthen all those who work in the medical services

    Stand by our sisters and brothers in the worldwide ecumenical community.

    And endow all of us with new ideas to strengthen our bond.

     

    May the Lord bless you and keep you;

    May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

    May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

    Amen.

    (International Prayer Chain, Evangelical Church of Hessen and Nassau)

     

    Rev. Agustinus Purba, Ephorus of GBKP, Indonesia sends the following prayer:

     Greetings in the Name of Jesus.

    This hard situation all our activities we do in home. In all the GBKP, we worship in homes by providing worship services made by pastors of each congregation. In some places of worship carried out using technology such as live streaming.

    In this difficult situation, we also make diakonia actions such as making wasteful  in several locations and spraying disinfectants. Some congregations in the city have taken action to distribute rice, sugar and other food needs to the poor people affected by covid 19 plague.

    For that, please pray for us:

    1.      GBKP ministry to people who are facing this difficulty, especially for congregations who have been affected by this virus. And All families, the GBKP congregation to stay strong

    2.      So that the presbyters and volunteers are given the strength to serve all congregations and community in this difficult time

    3.      All activities that are postponed, especially the preparation of the synod meeting in due time, will be carried out well

    4.      One significant impact is church finance; this will affect the activities and salaries of GBKP personnel. Please pray for this too

    5.      Pray also for people affected by the virus, doctors and nurses, scientists and the Indonesian government who are struggling to overcome this difficulty

    Thank you for your attention and good cooperation. May we continue to do good services in this difficult situation. God takes care of us.

     

    Bishop Dr Jered Kalimba of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, Diocese of Shyogwe writes on the behalf of the Dioceses of Butare (Bishop Nathan Gasatura), Cyangugu (Bishop Francis Karemera) and Kigeme (Bishop Assiel Musabyimana):   COVID-19 SITUATION IN RWANDA AND PRAYER ALERT

    Dear Friends, Warm greetings in Jesus Name!

    First of all, we thank Almighty God for his protection; He has not abandoned us indeed. Even in this scary time of COVID -19, we still feel the love and presence of God in our midst. To Him, we lift up our eyes (Psalm 123: 1, Psalm 121) and from Him, will come the healing and salvation of the entire world. Although, we are surrounded by fear and anxiety, we still lean on God’s promises and we feel protected and comforted in His shelter. We thank also our government leaders, our president and his team, our local authorities for the effort made to protect the whole Nation against this pandemic. The care given to the 75 infected is to be appreciated. Praise the Lord that up to now, no one died.

    Let us kindly share with you about the COVID-19 situation in Rwanda. We now have 75 Cases and the number is still increasing since we had the first case, March 14; fortunately no death is reported yet. Since March 21, the whole country is in lockdown and the country’s life is down. Schools, church buildings, borders and Markets-shops (Other than food ones) are closed. Many people are suffering due to consequences of this severe lockdown as many people have lost jobs following the re-enforcement of the measures taken to stop the spread of the plague. People are going hungry because of the food shortages and the peak in prices for the necessities. The government is now trying to help the most vulnerable people with food distribution but it is just like a half drop in the ocean. The government has called on churches, institutions, organizations and private individuals to join hands in this battle of getting food for the hungry and dealing with all kind of consequences of COVID-19.

    Some people are afraid for the next weeks, it could get harder and harder to get food and basic needs but we place our faith and hope in God, the most merciful and provider.

    We are also wondering how the people who work for the church (catechists, pastors, teachers in our private schools, staff in our clinic and health centers paid by the church and supporting staff …etc) are going to be paid. All places of worship (Church buildings) are closed and no more church offerings. The church is encouraging Christians to help their families and their neighbors who are suffering from hunger and lacking the basic needs. We kindly seek for your prayers and continuous support.

    Dear all UEM friends and the entire worldwide community,

    We are aware that on your side you are struggling with the hard challenges and consequences caused by COVID19. We hold you in our daily prayers. As Christians letus continue to join hands in praying for all victims across the globe, especially for those who are severely sick and those who are mourning after the loss of their dear ones.  Let also keep standing on our faith and hope, relying only on the Almighty God for the eradication of coronavirus and the healing of the whole world very soon. Amen!

    We have got some Particular prayer requests to share with you: We kindly ask you to pray for:

    1. Rwandans and all people’s hearts to feel God’s love  and peace in this terrible and anxious time;
    2. Anglican Church of Rwanda to help Christians to stand firm in their faith and be able to provide food to the hungry ,vulnerable people and  victims of the COVID19;
    3. Anglican Church and other Churches initiatives of supporting the needy people like collecting food, clothes and some other necessities;
    4. Anglican Church to find support to keep running daily church activities like salaries for pastors and other church workers etc….
    5. God’s healing: we pray God to give knowledge to the scientists to get medicine and vaccines as we are crying to Him to answer our prayers and to have mercy upon His creation;
    6. Orphans, widow (er)s and elderly people  who are in a very great need of help;
    7. Rwanda government to be able to support  financially the  institutions dealing with finance , other institutions and organizations and self-employed people that are greatly affected by the great financial crisis brought by the Pandemic;
    8. Rwanda government to be able to care for current 75 infected people( the number is increasing)  and to find funds  to improve healthcare facilities and to participate in stopping the spread of the pandemic; 
    9. 26th commemoration of Genocide against Tutsi while facing the COVID- 19.
    10.  Families to be able to care for their children confined at home and to assist them in their education and wellbeing with parents and living peacefully within the family.

     

    The Cape Regional Synod Core Ministry for Congregational Ministry and Witness Ministry of URCSA in South Africa has published a set of daily short mediations for the month of April. Here is today’s meditation, written by Rev Prof Reggie Nel,

     

    Readings for the day: Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 36:5-11; Hebrews 9:11-15; John 12:1-11

    Focus Text: John 12:1-11

     Our God in times of vulnerability

    One sometimes wonders, did Mary know what would come – the execution and ultimately the crucifixion of Jesus? Obviously, the author here is already aware of what will happen and can therefore make side-notes of Judas’ question (v 4-5) and even of Jesus’ answer (v 7). He writes this gospel many years after these events. 

    What we can see is that vulnerable people like Mary, through Jesus’ life and actions, got to know Jesus as the One who draws people to him – people who often struggle, people who are burdened. They experience him as the One who will not break a “bruised reed” (Isa 42:3) or snuff out a “smouldering wick” (v 3, NIV); He is the destination of their search.  Ingrid Jonker describes this search as a wind which carries “’n nag van distels” [“a night of thorns”] and “’n dood sonder duisterheid” [“a death without darkness”] in her poem Die lied van die gebreekte riete [“The song of broken reeds”] (1959). He himself, carries this vulnerability. 

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, we are also bruised reeds, who are searching for You. We come to be with you, with our tears, vulnerability, and we discover that You carry it for us.  Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - April 3, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Many thanks to all of you who have been responding to the alerts to say that they are praying with us!

    This Saturday and Sunday, we will not send out any prayer alert. From next Monday to Maundy Thursday, there will again be daily prayer alerts, but then we will take a break until the Tuesday after Easter. We trust that with all the alerts we have been sending out, you have plenty of material for your prayers! After Easter, we will send an alert twice a week for the time being.

     

    On this Friday leading up to Palm Sunday, we have some shorter news from Asia, and a meditation for Palm Sunday from Rev. Prof. Reggie Nel from URCSA.

    Officially, Indonesia now has 1,986 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but as Tetty Aritonang (GKPI, UEM Council member) writes, this number may be much higher:

    Because of the limited medical equipment to test COVID-19, I am sure that many people are not yet detected with COVID-19, but in reality perhaps the number of positive COVID-19 are many and still hidden.

    We are not yet under lockdown. I don't think Indonesia is ready for the lockdown. It could create chaos because so many people will be having difficulty for their everyday life, whereas the government is not yet ready to provide logistics equally because of the political situation. It is so sad when people are still thinking and playing politics in this such a difficult time.

    Please pray for the people's will and commitment to stay home and to follow the standard protocol from the WHO and the government, and that people will stand hand in hand to fight this pandemic.

    Please pray for the poor who are currently affected a lot financially.

    And also please pray for the people who lost their family member because of COVID-19.

     

    Rev. David Thayaseelan, former director of Kalkudah Evangelism Training College in Sri Lanka, has these three prayer requests:

    May I request all who read this message to include the following prayer requests in your chain, individual or family prayers:

    1. Pray for the migrant workers who got stuck locally and internationally and are unable to return home. Remember their families as well.

    2. Pray for those who have left the country with the hope of settling in another country through 'AGENCIES '. Many are abandoned and stranded. Their families are suffering as they invested everything they had on this travel. Please do pray for them.

    3. There are many social and other media spreading many fake news on the present crisis. It creates unnecessary panic and mental depression among people. Please pray that everyone especially the media behave with greater responsibility.

     

    And the meditation for Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020:

    Readings for the day: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-

    16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 27:11-54

    Focus Text: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

    His love endures forever

    Jesus walks (rides) towards His execution. Branches of palm trees are waved and the authorities whisper slyly behind their hands. He looks these realities straight in the eye, like the poet of Psalm 118 who, in the face of “anguish” (v 5), surrounded by the nations and about to fall (v 13), can still sing with the people of the covenant: “His love endures forever.”

    This makes me think of an old well-known song we used to sing: “Sing when the sun is bright, sing in the darkest night … let us sing, sing, sing.”

    There was singing when Jesus was on his way to meet his fate in Jerusalem. Today, at the beginning of the final Holy Week of Lent, let us focus our eyes on God’s enduring love and

    sing: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Ps 118:24)

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, in the face of anguish and the Holy Week of Lent, we will sing: This is Your day, the day you gave us. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

    Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - April 2, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

     

    Our prayer alert today focuses on two countries, Botswana and Cameroon, and we close with a short meditation from South Africa.

     

    Bishop Mothusi J. Letlhage of the ELCB- Botswana- and Chairman of the UEM Africa Regional Board, writes:

    Greetings from Gaborone/Botswana
    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
    Please pray for our beloved Country Botswana and the Southern African region that the spread of (Coronavirus) Covid 19, which has affected the whole World, be under control. The pandemic emerged where many families are still suffering from the aftermath of chronic diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, Blood pressure, Cancer and other related diseases and also living under extreme poverty.)

    Pray for our countries, churches, the ELCB Pastors, co-workers, congregants and all UEM members worldwide during this time of fear and hopelessness, that they continue having wisdom and strength to share the message of love and care especially on this period of extreme lockdown.


    Pray for the congregations to find new and better ways of reaching out to the needy and give spiritual support to each other in this period of extreme lockdown and social distancing.
    Pray for our nation to conquer fear and evil spirits in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout this period of extreme lockdown. Pray for nations to trust in their governments and adhere to all measures put in place by our leaders to curb the global pandemic.

    Let us all pray to our Heavenly Father and mighty Lord who is our Healer that the medical professionals may find the cure for this Covid 19 soon.

    Hope and trust be unto our Creator in whom we trust.

     

    From Cameroon, two people have reported about the situation. Rev. Jacques Ngahne from Douala writes:

    The last official figures in Cameroon are 233 cases, 8 deaths and 10 cured.

    Measures from government are: closing of borders, schools, avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people, reducing number of people in transport, all this for 15 days, and renewed yesterday for 15 other days. These measures are not working because of lack of social measures to support them.

    This week, there was an announcement of a fund of solidarity with one billion francs. But no one knows what it means and of course, it will be very insufficient.

    Many experts have asked for a confinement, to at least avoid people from travelling from a city to another. Nothing till now.

    All this to say that, like many countries and worse, our health system is not ready to face a catastrophic crisis. We haven't been preventive enough. Now we don't have means to cast out massive diagnoses.

    During our teachings on Facebook, we have a Covid page to sensitize our followers on barrier measures and the necessity to be aware. We are preparing posters to display in some church places such as hospitals, banks. We also looking forward to provide them with hydro alcoholic gel. We are finding other ways to help.

    Unfortunately, there are not enough medical materials such as masks, tests, protections for medical staff who are exposed to the virus. A city like Douala can reasonably take care of 15 patients in case of respiratory distress.

    We share the suffering of our sisters and brothers all over the world and we all look to the One who is still able to strengthen us in these moments. To him be the glory.  Amen!

     

    And Rev. Talla Waffo adds:

    Even if some parishes have seen fine to close completely, the majority still organize worship and prayer meetings in the church with limitation of participants below 50. Also, at the entrance of the parishes which have remained open, there is a disinfection device and inside people are seated respecting the principle of distance and prohibition of greetings...

    We're praying for the government, for the medical team on the field and for God's mercy...

     

    The General President of the EEC in Cameroon, Prof. Jean Samuel Hendje Toya, sends the following prayer:

    Almighty God, be present now to those who need your love because of COVID-19. Put your healing power through the care of doctors and nurses. Father God, help your people to avoid fear, anxiety and feelings of isolation, especially people receiving treatment or under quarantine. Give them a great sense of pursuing health and protecting others from being exposed to the disease. 

     

    Be with countries’ leaders making decisions that affect the lives and the future of our families, communities, countries and the wider world. May truth and empathy be the touchstones of people setting policies for our protection!  Holy God, we know that you are the one who provides everything. We ask that you keep this coronavirus from continuing to spread. Give government officials the ability to safely handle people arriving from other countries. Help people to stay home instead of traveling or going out needlessly. Holy Spirit, remind people to keep all measures taught to fight spread of the disease. And while it may be heartbreaking, comfort families as they decide to keep their distance from elderly or other high-risk family members. God help your people to remember that you are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear!

    The Cape Regional Synod Core Ministry for Congregational Ministry and Witness Ministry of URCSA in South Africa has published a set of daily short mediations for the month of April. Here is today’s meditation, written by Rev. Stephen Pedro:

    Readings for the day: Psalm 31:9-16; 1 Samuel 16:11-13; Philippians 1:1-11

    Focus Text: Psalm 31: 9-16

     

    Even in times of pandemic, our times are in God’s hand.

    The psalmist in Psalm 31:15 declares that his times are in God’s hands. It is the words of a man who fully trusts God (verse 14). David is saying that his life is in God’s hands – his day by day circumstances and events. This is just another way of saying that he was trusting God with his life. He made this statement whilst he was in a situation where he was pursued by his enemies and he was pleading to God to rescue him with his unfailing love.

    We are also in a situation where our lives are threatened. We are afraid, uncertain, and anxious, especially when we hear every day how the total, of people who tested positive with the Corona virus and dies of COVID-19 related illnesses, increases. It even contributes to our state of mind becoming depressive. But we are also certain that the God in whose hand our times is today and tomorrow, is the God that only want the best for His creation and especially for His children.

     

    We also know that the God in whose hand our time is, is our Redeemer (v16), that He is present in our lives (v21). He listens when we call upon Him for help with our supplications

    (v23b). Therefore, we can, in these times of pandemic, go to Him in prayer, with boldness and assurance that He will not forsake us.

     

    Prayer:

    Lord our God, we are worried and anxious and afraid. Thank you for the assurance to know that our times is in Your loving and caring hand, especially in times of pandemic. Thank you that we know that You only want to do good to us. Come to our rescue, O God, save us with your unfailing love.

     

    Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - April 1, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today our Prayer Alert focuses on Hong Kong. Windvy Yu from CRC writes:

    Our Heavenly Father,

    We pray to you about this world crisis, Corona Virus that is affecting the whole world. God, please save those poor who even do not have enough protective means. Please stand with those medical front liners who put their life lower than the patients. Please help those researchers to have wisdom to develop an effective cure as early as possible.

    God, because you are the LORD, our LORD. 'The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. (Psalms 121:7-8)'

    Thank you LORD that we can still help each other in this hard time. A few weeks ago, we at CRC received a number of masks from the member churches in Indonesia. We really thank these member churches and also the management work by all the colleagues in the Asia Department.

    The virus situation is changed every day. On 31/3, the official report announced that there were 41 new cases that day and now 683 cases in total in Hong Kong. The government launched numerous regulations last Saturday. One of them bans every assembly or meeting which has more than 4 people. That means all the services in Hong Kong are stopped and transferred to an online format. Restaurants are also the victims because they need to ensure each table has only 4 people and each table should have at least 1.5 meter distance from the others. They can only serve half of their capacity. We all know these measures are used to decrease the infected cases.

    LORD, please help our leaders in the government to launch the strategies more wisely. Please also help the church leaders and colleagues to make the appropriate decisions when facing the current situations.  Please be with the brothers and sisters who have to stay at home to attend online service or those in quarantine period. God, please be with us.

     

    In addition to the focus on Hong Kong, we would also like to share with you the concern in several churches for those people who do not have food to eat because they depend on daily wages and are unable to work due to lockdowns.

    Ramesh Fernando reports from Methodist Church Sri Lanka today that pastors, evangelists and lay people are out in force despite the curfew to distribute food to people who are in danger of starving. He also writes that it is difficult to get medication, and that many people with diabetes and high blood pressure are at risk.

    And Bishop Francis Kamerera from EAR/Cyangugu Diocese in Rwanda writes:

    As many of our people are living in extreme poverty and are dependent on casual labor, we are facing another threat of hunger. Parents who normally depend on their daily wage have lost their income and are currently not able to provide a single meal per day to the children.

    As this situation occurs in the days of Lent, we are reminded of Isaiah 58:6-7, where it is written: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: … Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” These verses inspired us to start a project to help our brothers and sisters who are currently struggling to survive. We are raising funds from our own congregations and we are distributing it to the most vulnerable, but it is like a drop in a sea of needs.

    We kindly request for prayers and support as the crisis is so enormous that we cannot handle it alone.

  • Prayer Alert - March 31, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    This is the tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the countries of UEM churches today (according to https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html)

     

    Germany          68,180

    Philippines        2,084

    Indonesia           1,528

    South Africa      1,353

    Hong Kong           714

    Cameroon             193

    Sri Lanka              142

    DR Congo               98

    Rwanda                   70

    Tanzania                19

    Namibia                  11

    Botswana                  3

     

    The ECC President, Rev Dr Bokundoa bo-likabe Andre writes:

    Dear beloved UEM, Thank you for everything. For the subject of prayer, we have only one: May God save the Congo from the hecatomb at the origin. We do not have an adequate health services, our help is in the hands of the Lord.

     

    We join in this prayer and pray that the countries with low numbers of infections will not see these numbers grow very much, and that the pain of lockdowns will bear the fruits of protection. Let us also pray for the United States (165,874 cases), Italy (101,739 cases), and Spain (94,417 cases) which are struggling with huge numbers of sick people and are mourning many deaths.

     

    From an email by Rev. Hatani Kisting from Namibia:

    The world is at a stand-still and nothing seems to be functioning... People are left in hopelessness, in despair and in fear and anxiety. Covid 19 has got us all on our knees and as we are anxiously looking around us, we realize at once that only God's word and His everlasting promises are given to us as our everlasting hope. 

    I need to assure you that we are not only in thoughts and prayers with you, but you remain in our hearts as partners in Christ Jesus. Your pain and suffering is touching us deeply and even moving our souls as we are connected as Church and children of God. The circumstances in Namibia is devastating as well but we remain connected with you and light the candle of hope for us all.

    As you and us and the whole world is going through these hard times, let us carry the torch of hope and keep it burning. I'm sure that this will pass and we will overcome in the blood of Jesus. We pray for the families who lost their loved ones, that God will comfort them in their bereavement, and also for those in medical facilities. We pray for Germany and our sister churches in Africa and Asia and for the poorest of the poor. May God our Mighty Fortress keep us and have mercy upon us.

    May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds.

     

    Hulda Vagheni writes from Goma: 

    1 case has been confirmed today by the governor. It is about a man from Nigeria who was in Goma since 18th of March. He works for a humanitarian organization. 

    Bukavu has 2 confirmed cases. United in prayer, we believe in God even now.

     

    We continue to bring you translations of a prayer that goes around the world. A big Thank You to Venant Ntakirutimana, Marthe Maleke Kondemo and Anderson Moses Kipande for their help with translations in to Kinyarwanda (yesterday), Lingala and Kisuaheli!

     

    Lingala

    Tata na biso oyo azali na likolo, na nzela na molimo na yo tozali moko kati na kondima, na elikia mpe na bolingo. Ata soki tozali kobika moto na moto na esika na ye, mosika na mosusu na tango oyo, tozali moto kati lingomba monene na mokili oyo esangisi bana na yo. Tika tokolisa komdima na biso koyebaka ete ozali tango nyoso pene pene na biso to bilkela mpe tososola ete tozali moko elongo ba ndeko basi mpe mibali kati na mokili. Bikisa ba oyo bazali na pasi. sunga mitema na ba oyo bazali bango moko. Pesa bwanya mpe nguya na ba oyo bazali komema mokumba. Pesa makasi na ba oyo nyoso bazali kosala na ba opitale. Telema pembeni na ba ndeko na biso ya basi mpe mibali oyo tozali na bango kati na bomoko na mokili mobimba.Pesa biso nyoso makanisi ya sika mpo na ko kembisa lisanga ya bomoko kati na biso.

    Tika Yawe apambola yo mpe abatela yo; tika Yawe atanisa elongi na ye na likolo na yo mpe ayokela yo ngolu; tika Yawe anetola elongi na ye na likolo na yo mpe apesa yo kimia. Amen

    ELONGO

    Mokili mobimba tozali na mabondeli. Soki olingi ko bondela na biso, zuwa libondeli oyo, kabola yango na ba mosusu na nzela na internet too mpe bimisa makomi mpe baka na bikuke na ndako na to too mpe na motuka na yo. Tokoki kokabwana na mikili, kasi tozali moko kati na molimo. Tika tomonisa yango.

     

    Kisuaheli

    Baba yetu uliye Mbinguni, Kwa Roho wako tunaunganishwa ki-imani, matumaini na upendo. Pamoja na kujitenga na kuwa wapweke wakati huu, tu watoto na jumuiya yako ya kiulimwengu. Kuza imani zetu kwa sababu kila wakati uko karibu nasi, tuunganishe na kaka na dada zetu ulimwenguni. Wainue wagonjwa. Imulike mioyo ya wapweke. Wape hekima na nguvu wanaokabiliwa na majukumu. Waimarishe watenda kazi mahospitalini. Uwe na ndugu zetu wote ulimwenguni. Na utupe mawazo mapya yatakayoimarisha umoja wetu.

    Bwana akubariki na kukulinda; Bwana akuangazie Nuru ya uso wake na kukufadhili; Bwana akuinulie uso wake na kukupa amani. Amina

    KWA PAMOJA

    Maombi kiulimwengu. Kama unataka kuwa mshiriki katika maombi hata ya mnyororo. Shiriki sala hii kwenye makundi yako mitandao ya kijamii, au chapa (printi) na weka sala hii mlangoni, au ukutani au dirishani au kwenye gari lako. Tumetengwa kimwili lakini Kiroho tuko pamoja-Tuoneshe hili!

     

  • Prayer Alert - March 30, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today we would like to ask you to pray for Germany. We have almost 64,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. About 10% of these are already recovered, and 560 people have died.

    For the last eight days, Germany has been under what we call a communication ban (which is not quite a lockdown): In public places, no more than two people are allowed to come together. Any kind of public meeting is forbidden: No sports events, no worship services, no Bible studies etc. All shops that are not selling daily necessities are closed, as are schools, universities, theaters, restaurants, and gyms. People are encouraged to stay home as much as possible, and to meet as few people as they possibly can. Wherever possible, people are told to work from home. In shops and supermarkets, a two-meter distance is enforced between people. This will last at least until April 19.

    So far, hospitals have been able to deal with the influx of infected patients, but this may change as the number of cases is still growing very fast.

    While the German government has announced huge financial packages to save the economy and has promised support in particular for small companies, individual entrepreneurs and performing artists, many people are afraid about the future and what it may bring. The finance minister of the State of Hesse took his life last weekend; his colleagues believe that he felt overwhelmed by the political and financial implications of the current crisis.

    And not all Germans are well protected: There are many homeless people as well as refugees living in cramped accommodation with little chance of social distancing. And experts are warning that children and youth are in particular danger as they are forced to stay at home with stressed-out and even abusive parents.

    Please pray for these weakest people, that God will especially protect and strengthen them.

     

    Some further prayer requests:

    HKBP reports from Sumatra that one of their pastors, Rev. Bonatua Siregar, has died of COVID-19. Please pray for his family that God will comfort them.

     

    Bishop Abednego Keshomshahara writes from Bukoba, Tanzania:

    Here in Tanzania there are 13 cases of corona, 12 of which were people coming from outside the country. Since 16th March, 2020 the first case was recognized in Arusha, four days later and onwards, others who were entering the country were detected. They are taken care and no death has occurred. 

    Those coming from outside are quarantined for 14 days at their own expenses.

    Scanners for measuring temperatures and rapid testers are spread at borders and air ports to detect those with virus.

    Schools and colleges are closed and meetings, workshops and conferences are prohibited though public transport continues. 

    Measures of hygiene and precautions are shared in the communities via media. The church is insisting on people to follow what the government and health officials recommend. No sick person has been found in Bukoba. It is already two weeks since the first case was found in Tanzania.

    We continue to pray for cure and vaccination.

     

    Jacques Ngahne of EEC writes from Douala, Cameroon:

    My Parish is now a Facebook Parish ?. Though the government has not forbidden church meetings, gathering more than 50 people is not allowed. Even if it was allowed we wouldn't have taken such risks. So we have suspended all meetings in the parish.

    We now have three activities, morning devotion every morning, teachings every evening in this lent period and the Sunday worship, and all are live on Facebook:

     

    If you want to watch this in French, here is the link:

    https://www.facebook.com/EEC-Paroisse-Du-Cinquantenaire-108261780807483/?referrer=whatsapp

     

    Mark Beukes of ELCRN writes from Walvisbay, Namibia:

    In Namibia we have 8 cases of Covid 19. We believe that the numbers will increase. We hope and pray that it will not be the case. Two of our 13 regions will start with total lockdown as from tonight 00h01. I am in one of those regions. We must keep on praying and trusting God to have mercy on us.

    And finally: The Ecumenical Center of EKHN and EKKW has developed a prayer that they ask people to pray every night at 7:30 p.m. This prayer is sent around with the logo you see here, and it is being translated into more and more languages as it is meant to go around the world to connect people. Today, we include it in our alert in English, German, French, Bahasa Indonesia, Afrikaans, Arabic and Kinyarwanda. Tomorrow, we will add more languages.

     

    TOGETHER – A World in Prayer

    If you want to take part in this prayer chain, share this prayer on your social media site or print it and fix it to your door, your window or your car. We may be separated spatially, but we are spiritually united -let us show this!

     

    Our heavenly father,

    through your spirit we are united in faith, hope and love. Even if we are isolated and lonely in these times– we belong to the worldwide community of your children. Let grow our faith that you are always close to us and let us experience that we are one with our sisters and brothers all around the world. Uplift those who are sick. Lighten the hearts of those who are lonely. Grant wisdom and courage to those who bear responsibility. Strengthen all those who work in the medical services. Stand by our sisters and brothers in the worldwide ecumenical community. And endow all of us with new ideas to strengthen our bond.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Amen.

     

    Gemeinsam - ein Gebet geht um die Welt

    Wenn ihr Euch einreiht in die Gebetskette – dann postet es und teilt es. Oder druckt das Emblem aus und hängt es in euer Fenster und Auto. Räumlich getrennt aber geistlich verbunden, das wollen wir damit zeigen.

     

    Gott, unser Vater,

    durch deinen Geist sind wir miteinander verbunden im Glauben, Hoffen und Lieben.

    Auch wenn wir in diesen Zeiten vereinzelt sind: Wir sind Teil der weltweiten Gemeinschaft deiner Kinder.

     

    Lass wachsen unser Vertrauen in deine Nähe und in die Verbundenheit mit unseren Schwestern und Brüdern.

    Die erkrankt sind, richte auf.

    Mache leicht die Herzen der Einsamen.

    Den Verantwortungsträgern gib Weisheit und Mut.

    Stärke die Frauen und Männer im medizinischen Dienst.

    Unseren Geschwistern in der weltweiten Kirche stehe bei.

    Uns allen schenke Ideen, unserer Verbundenheit Ausdruck zu geben.

    Segne uns, o Herr! Lass leuchten dein Angesicht über uns und sei uns gnädig ewiglich!

    Segne uns, o Herr! Deine Engel stell um uns! Bewahre uns in deinem Frieden ewiglich!

    Segne uns, o Herr! Lass leuchten dein Angesicht über uns und sei uns gnädig ewiglich!

    Amen.

     

     

    Ensemble - une prière fait le tour du monde

    Si vous rejoignez la chaîne de prière - postez-la et partagez-la. Ou imprimez l'emblème et accrochez-le dans votre fenêtre et votre voiture. Nous voulons montrer que nous sommes séparés spatialement maisconnectés spirituellement.

    Dieu notre père par votre esprit, nous sommes liés dans la foi, l'espérance et l'amour. Même si nous sommes isolés en ces temps: nous faisons partie de la communauté mondiale de vos enfants. Que notre confiance en vous et dans la connexion avec nos sœurs et nos frères grandisse. Ceux qui sont malades, redressez-les. Assouplissez le cœur des solitaires. Donnez aux responsables sagesse et courage. Renforcez les femmes et les hommes dans les services médicaux. Aidez nos sœurs et frères dans l'église mondiale. Donnez à nous tous des idées pour exprimer notre solidarité.

    Bénissez-nous, ô Seigneur! Laissez briller votre visage sur nous et soyez gracieux envers nous pour toujours! Bénissez-nous, ô Seigneur! Vos anges soient autour de nous! Gardez-nous dans votre paix pour toujours! Bénissez-nous, ô Seigneur! Laissez briller votre visage sur nous et soyez gracieux envers nous pour toujours! Amen

     

    Kebersamaan – Doa untuk Dunia (Bahasa Indonesia)

    Jika saudara-saudari ingin terlibat dalam rantai doa ini – posting dan bagikan ini. Atau logonya dicetak dan ditempel di jendela atau kaca mobil. Secara ruang kita terpisah tetapi dalam roh kita terhubung. Itu yang kami hendak tunjukkan dengan ini.

    Ya Allah, Bapa Kami , melalui Roh Kudus-Mu, satu sama lain kami dipersatukan dalam Iman, Pengharapan dan Kasih. Termasuk saat ini ketika kami terpisah: Kami adalah bagian daripersekutuan anak-anak-Mu di dunia ini. Biarlah Keyakinan kami tumbuh di dalam Engkau dan dalam persekutuan dengan sudara-saudari kami. Ringankanlah beban hati mereka yang kesepian. Mereka yang memikul tanggungjawab berilah hikmat dan keberanian. Kuatkan dan tabahkanlah hati para tenaga medis. Bersamalah dengan saudara-saudari kami di gereja-gereja di dunia ini. Karuniakan kami ide untuk menunjukkan keterikatan kami. Berkati kami, ya Tuhan! Biarlah wajah-Mu bersinar atas kami dankasihanilah kami senantiasa! Berkati kami, ya Tuhan! Berjagalah Malaekat-Mu disekitar kami! Peliharalah kami dalam damai-Mu selamanya. Berkati kami, ya Tuhan! Biarlah wajah-Mu bersinar atas kami dankasihanilah kami senantiasa! Amin.

     

    Saam - 'n Gemeenskaplike gebed gaan om die wereld (Afrikaans)

    As U wil deel neem aan die Ketting gebed, kan u dit deel op sosiale media of uit druk en dit aan u deur plaas, of aan u venster, of op u motor aanbring. Ons mag oor afstand geskei wees, maar ons is geestelk verbind aan mekaar - dit wil ons prakties uitbeeld.

    Onse Hemelse Vader. Deur U Gees is ons verenig in geloof, hoop en liefde. Al is ons geïsoleerd en eensaam gedurende hierdie tyd - behoort ons aan die wereldwye gemeenskap van u kinders. Laat ons geloof meer word in die wete dat U naby ons is, en laat ons ervaar die eenheid tussen ons as susters en broeders regoor die wereld. Genees die wat Siek is. Verlig die harte van die eensames. Gee wysheid en deursettingsvermoe aan die persone in verantwoordelike posisies. Versterk alle mediese amptenare. Onderskraag ons susters en broeders in die Wereldwye EkumenieseGemeenskap en skenk ons die insig om uitdrukking te gee aan onsverbondenheid. Die Here sal u seen en u behoed. Die Here sal Sy aangesig oor ons laat skyn en ons genadig wees. Die Here sal Sy aangesig oor ons verhef en aan ons Sy vrede gee. Amen.

     

    اللهياابانا٬أنإرتباطنا اعمبروحك القدوسبالإيمان٬والرجاء٬والمحبة.وأنكنانعيشفىاجزاءمختلفةمنالعالملكننانجتمعاعمالأنوخاصةفىهذاالوقتالذىنمر به٬نتحداعمفىشركة واحدةكابناءلك .يارباجعل ثقتناببعضتزدادوتنمو ٬اننانقربمنكمعاخواتناواخوتنافىالعالماجمع .المرضىمنهميارباشفيهم.والمعزولين عنارافقهم.أعطىالحكمةوالشجاعةللمسؤولين.شددالاطباء واطقمالتمريضفى الخدمةالطبية .قفبجانباصدقائناوشركائنافىالخدمةالكنسيةفىالعالم اجمع .اعطيناياسيدكل الافكارلكىيلمسواارتباطنا بهموتضامنااعم .باركنايارب وانربوجهكامامناوارحمنا .باركنايارب وارسل ملائكتكاليناليحيطوابنا .وأحفظنا بسلامكالىالأبد .باركنايا ربوانربوجهكامامنا وارحمنا .امينهذة الصلاة ترسل للعالم اجمع بلغات مختلفة. إذاانضممت إلى سلسلة الصلاة-انشرهاوشاركها .أو اطبعالشارةوعلقهافينافذتكوسيارتك .نريدأننبينأنهذامنفصل منالناحيةالجغرافية ولكنهمتصل ايحور .

     

    TWESE HAMWE – Isi irimo gusenga (Kinyarwanda)

    Niba nawe ushaka kugira uruhare muri uru runana rwo gusenga, sangiza abandi iri sengesho ku mbuga nkoranyambaga, cyangwa urisohore ku rupapuro urimanike ku muryango wawe, ku idirishya ryawe cyangwa imodoka yawe. Dushobora kuba dutandukanyijwe n'intera y'ahantu ariko mu mwuka turi umwe-reka tubyerekane.

    Data wa twese wo mu juru, mu Mwuka wawe turi umwe mu kwizera, mu byiringiro no mu rukundo. Nubwo tutari hamwe kandi turi twenyine muri ibi bihe- turi mu muryango w'abana bawe mu isi yose – Ongera kwizera kwacu ko uri hafi yacu ibihe byose kandi dufashe kubishyikira ko turi umwe na Bene data bose hirya no hino ku isi.  Hagurutsa bariya barwaye. Murikira imitima y'abari mu bwigunge. Ha ubwenge  abafite inshingano. Komeza abakora imirimo y'ubuvuzi.  Egera Bene Data bo mu matorero yose  ku isi. Uduhe twese ibitekerezo bishya byo gukomeza umurunga wacu. Imana ibahe umugisha kandi ibarinde; Imana ibamurikishirize mu maso hayo kandi ibagirire neza; Imana ibarebe neza kandi ibahe amahoro. Amen.

     

  • Prayer Alert - March 28, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Let us focus our prayers today on HKBP in Sumatra, Indonesia. Rev. Lelim Limbong, Head of Ecumenical Bureau writes:

    1. On March 26 th, Indonesia has announced 103 new cases, bringing the total number to 893. [Today, March 28, the number has risen to 1,155.] The number of deaths increased by 20 [today, there were 15 more deaths], the most in a single day since the virus hit Indonesia. Let us pray for the healing, because some of the cases are our congregations and pastors and also the families of pastor. That is out breaking.

    2. Pray for the church members who have difficult economy. Due to the Coronavirus, their income has been greatly reduced and because of government's recommendation to stay at home, the church members cannot work and absolutely cannot earn some money for their lives.

    3. Pray for the financial problems of the churches in Indonesia, HKBP particularly. There is no more Sunday Service, even the praying together as family that we usually do once a week, and another gathering in the church. Due to that, the offerings for the Pastor and Synod workers dropped dramatically.

    Thank you for UEM who always supports and consistently prays for this pandemic situation.

    May the peace of God always be with us through this worst situation.

     

    We are facing another Sunday tomorrow with most of us not able to worship in community in a church building.

    But let us thank God for the gift of creativity and unity in churches. Here are just some of the ideas for tomorrow that we came across.

    Bishop Asiri Perera, Methodist Church Sri Lanka, writes on Facebook:

    The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka is now ready with a Recording of a trilingual United Worship Service to be telecast tomorrow Sunday through the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Channel. The exact time will be announced shortly through my fb post.

    Many congregations will be streaming worship services through Facebook. Others will be broadcast on radio and TV.

    In EKKW in Germany, Rev. Michael Schümers is riding a motorbike to different villages in a rural area, taking along a microphone, loudspeakers and his trumpet, to celebrate a short evening devotion in different places.

    Many churches are sharing liturgies for home and family worship services. And let us remember in our isolation that we are connected to our sisters and brothers all over the world through the Holy Spirit.

    And for your Sunday medidation, some excerpts from a poem by Swiss writer Jacueline Keune, translated from German:

    Cancelled

    the worship service

    Not cancelled

    whispering

    to God

     

    Cancelled

    The wedding

    Not cancelled

    Love

     

    Cancelled

    the funeral

    Not cancelled

    the resurrection

  • Prayer Alert - March 27, 2020

    Dear all,

    Today we will have a special look at the Philippines in our prayer alert. As of this afternoon, the country has 803 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 54 deaths and 31 recovered. Nine doctors have died of the virus in recent days.

    Large parts of the country are under strict quarantine, and the army is out in the streets to enforce compliance. But many people have pointed out that a lockdown makes little sense in crowded slums. And people who live on daily wages also are badly affected.

    In addition, many people have criticized that not enough people are being tested for the Coronavirus, but that politicians and other influential people have access to tests.

     

    The United Church of the Christ North Luzon Jurisdictional Area has been preparing liturgies for people to use at home in family services. Here are prayers for the coming Sunday, translated into English by Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza:

    God of hope, in this hour we draw near before your presence with certainty that you meet us here.

    Where there is sorrow, you provide joy; where there is weariness, you give us strength; where there is despair, you renew our hope.

    May this place be where we can find hope for each one,

    a home where holy words

    and songs are heard, where prayers are uttered as we join our hearts in devotion to you.

    We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

    Amen.

    INTERCESSORY PRAYER: (Sentence prayers may be expressed by each of the family members for the following concerns:
    ➢ For protection from COVID-19 and for its eventual elimination
    ➢ For the healing of those patients with COVID-19
    ➢ For the comfort of families who lost a loved one due to COVID-19
    ➢ For the health and protection of the frontliners and their families
    ➢ For the immediate discovery of cure against COVID-19
    ➢ For our government leaders that they may be guided with wisdom in their decisions and in
    their crafting of policies that considers the plight of the poor, the homeless, and the unemployed
    ➢ For unity of will and resolve of the whole world to combat COVID-19

     

    Rev. Ferdinand Anno writes in a meditation on “Sensing God’s radical presence while a pandemic rages on:”

    (https://www.nordis.net/2020/03/22/article/opinion/columns/sensing-gods-radical-presence-while-a-pandemic-rages-on/?fbclid=IwAR2WYOKxzz1RmXT9nDIeLPgvklh7MFdHNs1V13JmbOG3n9e0VDbR6_bHs3Q)

    God’s presence manifests itself in us when we are finally able to see this human tragedy as an opportunity for spiritual and moral rebirth; when we see our present predicament as an opportunity to rebuild our relationships, revise the way we live, and give birth to a new world.

    Finally, God’s presence is made manifest when we are finally able to see the abandonment of ourselves as key to rebuilding our common life, when to wash in love the feet of the other becomes our moral compass, and when to love and serve unconditionally and efficaciously become the fulcrum of our spirituality.

    This affirmation of God’s presence is the most powerful antidote to the present pandemic; it is the one antidote that calls us to approach the current crisis as one human community destined to share the earth; it is the one antidote that can give birth to a radically ecumenical vision and spirituality necessary for the rebuilding of our global and national communities; it is the one antidote that pushes us into expanding the horizons of our creativity and resourcefulness in terms of medical and social cures to both our physical and social malaise; it is the one antidote that we now see at work in big and small ways by those who, amidst our debilitating fears if not mass hysteria, continue to courageously offer themselves in the service of the weak and vulnerable.

    While I am writing this prayer alert, Pope Francis is celebrating a special evening service in St. Peter’s Square which is broadcast over the internet. He is preaching about Mark 4:37-41: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” calling on all believers to trust that Jesus is with us in the storm and to live and act in this hope.

    For the sick and the dying, the pope will pronounce the special blessing “urbi et orbi” (for the city and the world) which is normally reserved for Christmas and Easter.

  • Prayer Alert - March 25, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    As the Coronavirus continues to spread worldwide and people are falling ill in almost every country in the world, we continue being connected by our prayers. As borders are closed, we remain a global community.

    As far as we know, most of the UEM member churches are no longer holding public worship services. Many are encouraging their members to worship at home or, where possible, to use online ways of worship. On Facebook, on YouTube and in WhatsApp groups, prayers, music and worship services are being shared. It is encouraging and heart-warming to see the work and creativity going into these efforts.

    At the same time, we also receive worried messages particularly from Africa and Asia. How are people going to feed their families if shops and markets have to close, or if a lockdown is imposed? How are weak health systems going to deal with a wave of seriously ill people?

    Therefore, we ask you today to particularly pray for those whose livelihood is now endangered by government measures against the spread of the virus. Let us pray that our God who takes particular care of the poor and the weak will show himself as the savior of those who do not know where to get food in this situation.

     

    God who made us all,

    Our healers are exhausted, God.

    Give rest to those who care for the sick.

    Our friends are lonely, God.

    Help us to reach out.

    Our pastors are doing the best they can, God.

    Help them to know it is enough.

    Our workers are jobless, God.

    Grant us the collective will to take care of them.

    We haven’t done this before and we are scared, God.

    I don’t even know what else to pray for. Amen.

     

    In addition, we would like to share excerpts from e-mails that we received in the last two days.

    Rev. Agustinus Purba, General Chairperson of the GBKP, writes on behalf of the Moderamen:

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of this worry situation for the breakout of Covid-19,

    May our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Savior, Healer, Refuge, and Sanctuary will always keep us safe and healthy.

    Due to the rampant pandemic of corona virus nowadays in all over the world, Moderamen GBKP has made a decision today to postpone the implementation of our big and important event of Synod Assembly which was to be implemented this coming April 13-18, 2020. […]

    Thank you very much for your kind attention and keep praying for the better situation of the world, for all the victims and those who lost their beloved one due to this virus. And the most important thing is stay healthy and safe, God bless and protect us all with Jesus' Mighty Blood.

     

    Rev. Marcela Alegoyojo writes from the Philippines:

    Greetings of Hope in the name of Jesus Christ. 

    The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has declared the whole country as in the state of calamity the other day (March 16, 2020). We are in the enhanced community quarantine in the whole island of Luzon. Some provinces of the southern part have already done it. Schools are closed as well as churches, Most of the government and private offices are closed. Some are doing their works at home. Only gas station, groceries, pay centers, banks and hospitals are open at the moment. All public utility vehicles have stopped their operations as part of the directives. This is effective March 15 to April 14, 2020. For the 3 days enhanced community quarantine, a lot of people are already complaining especially those are daily wage earners. Only people with humanitarian reasons, medical personnel, people going to the airport, police and militaries are allowed in the street especially in Manila. […]

    We continue to hope and pray for strength as we look our eyes of faith to Jesus Christ who suffered until at the cross to give us eternal life. 

     

    UEM co-worker Safari Kanyema writes from DR Congo:

    We keep watching in this prayer, especially this Sunday we will not attend a large community Sunday service.

    Thank you for maintaining UEM family in unity of prayer in this uncertain time. 

    We believe that at His time God will bring a solution to this woldwide issue.

     

    UEM co-worker Uwe Hummel writes from Papua, Indonesia:

    The campus of STFT I.S.Kijne has been closed for all academic activities since Tuesday, 17th March, due to first Coronavirus cases being registered in Papua. I am working with my students via Whatsapp Group.

     

    Rev. Christoph Nötzel writes from Germany:

    This suffering under the pandemic is an ecumenical suffering – and we are widening our horizon beyond the narrow perspective of our own worries and increasing national fixation. A pandemic does not know any borders –but neither does our God.

     

  • Prayer Alert - March 24, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    In the next weeks, we will focus on one UEM member church every day, rotating across continents.

    Today, we ask you to pray for Sri Lanka and for the Methodist Church there.

    Sri Lanka is under lockdown. Parliamentary elections which were planned for April 25 have been postponed. Sri Lanka’s main industry is tourism, already hit hard by last year’s Easter bombings. Now, no tourists at all are coming anymore. It is not clear whether the country’s economy can survive.

    The number of Covid-19 positively confirmed cases as at 2.45 pm local time today is 100.

    2,405 persons were arrested for violating the curfew from 6 pm Friday to 12 noon today; 646 vehicles including motorcycles & 3-wheelers were taken into custody.

    Already, the poorest are suffering terribly.

     

    Rev. Ramesh Fernando writes:

    Please pray for people in estate areas [those working on tea plantations]. And people who live on daily wages. So many calls came to me saying “nothing to eat “. But I’m also stuck with the lock-down situation. Please pray for nearly around 4000 families.

    On Friday, I will travel to distribute food hampers to people.

     

    Evangelist Nalin Chamila adds:

    Please pray for the people who are going with fear, anxiety and also lack of food. Now we all are shocked that today the government permitted only four hours to purchase the stuff that they need. But that time was not enough. And many people don’t have money to do that.

    Today when we were in a queue one person asked: Only one kilo of raw rice? Actually, that is not enough for their family for a day. How can they survive for a week with that? Some people look for work during these four hours, like this coolie hoping to cover his family’s living cost. Please pray for my country!

    We are doing our duty as we can do, today also Methodist church distributed necessary food for the people, but the main problem is that the time is not enough.

     

    And Rev. Sujithar Sivanayagam, Principal of Kalkudah Evangelism Training College, writes:

    My humble request is to ask God to grant our people wisdom to realise their responsibility towards homes, societies, country and world during this pandemic.  

    Please pray for ETC, Kalkudah students and their families who are at the campus.

    Let us uphold the daily wages in all over the Island.

     

     

    We are grateful for the UEM community standing together in prayer. President Rev. Dr. Pascal Bataringaya of the EPR in Rwanda writes:

    We are praying with the whole worldwide church, we are thinking of all of you and are praying for you.

    For this daily prayer in solidarity with the whole world, we have a special time in our church: Every day at 6 p.m., all people stand up in the family and pray together the Lord’s Prayer and recite the Apostles’ Creed. With this, we are connected with all people in the world through prayer.

     

    And Bishop Sageus/Keib of ELCRN in Namibia sent this e-mail:

    We are in solidarity with the entire world. Let us remain in constant prayers. God will heed to our supplications.

     

    Jesus,

    You fed the multitudes that hungered. You are the Lord of the poorest and weakest.

    We call to you: Let not your children go hungry, in Sri Lanka or anywhere in the world.

    Open the hearts of those who have in abundance that they will share with those who have nothing.

    Guide governments that they will take care of those who are most vulnerable.

    Show yourself as the God who answers prayers. Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - March 23, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    As the Coronavirus continues to spread worldwide and people are falling ill in almost every country in the world, we continue being connected by our prayers. As borders are closed, we remain a global community.

    As far as we know, most of the UEM member churches are no longer holding public worship services. Many are encouraging their members to worship at home or, where possible, to use online ways of worship. On Facebook, on YouTube and in WhatsApp groups, prayers, music and worship services are being shared. It is encouraging and heart-warming to see the work and creativity going into these efforts.

    At the same time, we also receive worried messages particularly from Africa and Asia. How are people going to feed their families if shops and markets have to close, or if a lockdown is imposed? How are weak health systems going to deal with a wave of seriously ill people?

    Therefore, we ask you today to particularly pray for those whose livelihood is now endangered by government measures against the spread of the virus. Let us pray that our God who takes particular care of the poor and the weak will show himself as the savior of those who do not know where to get food in this situation.

     

    God who made us all,

    Our healers are exhausted, God.

    Give rest to those who care for the sick.

    Our friends are lonely, God.

    Help us to reach out.

    Our pastors are doing the best they can, God.

    Help them to know it is enough.

    Our workers are jobless, God.

    Grant us the collective will to take care of them.

    We haven’t done this before and we are scared, God.

    I don’t even know what else to pray for. Amen.

     

     

    In addition, we would like to share excerpts from e-mails that we received in the last two days.

    Rev. Agustinus Purba, General Chairperson of the GBKP, writes on behalf of the Moderamen:

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of this worry situation for the breakout of Covid-19,

    May our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Savior, Healer, Refuge, and Sanctuary will always keep us safe and healthy.

    Due to the rampant pandemic of corona virus nowadays in all over the world, Moderamen GBKP has made a decision today to postpone the implementation of our big and important event of Synod Assembly which was to be implemented this coming April 13-18, 2020. […]

    Thank you very much for your kind attention and keep praying for the better situation of the world, for all the victims and those who lost their beloved one due to this virus. And the most important thing is stay healthy and safe, God bless and protect us all with Jesus' Mighty Blood.

     

    Rev. Marcela Alegoyojo writes from the Philippines:

    Greetings of Hope in the name of Jesus Christ. 

    The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has declared the whole country as in the state of calamity the other day (March 16, 2020). We are in the enhanced community quarantine in the whole island of Luzon. Some provinces of the southern part have already done it. Schools are closed as well as churches, Most of the government and private offices are closed. Some are doing their works at home. Only gas station, groceries, pay centers, banks and hospitals are open at the moment. All public utility vehicles have stopped their operations as part of the directives. This is effective March 15 to April 14, 2020. For the 3 days enhanced community quarantine, a lot of people are already complaining especially those are daily wage earners. Only people with humanitarian reasons, medical personnel, people going to the airport, police and militaries are allowed in the street especially in Manila. […]

    We continue to hope and pray for strength as we look our eyes of faith to Jesus Christ who suffered until at the cross to give us eternal life. 

     

    UEM co-worker Safari Kanyema writes from DR Congo:

    We keep watching in this prayer, especially this Sunday we will not attend a large community Sunday service.

    Thank you for maintaining UEM family in unity of prayer in this uncertain time. 

    We believe that at His time God will bring a solution to this woldwide issue.

     

    UEM co-worker Uwe Hummel writes from Papua, Indonesia:

    The campus of STFT I.S.Kijne has been closed for all academic activities since Tuesday, 17th March, due to first Coronavirus cases being registered in Papua. I am working with my students via Whatsapp Group.

     

    Rev. Christoph Nötzel writes from Germany:

    This suffering under the pandemic is an ecumenical suffering – and we are widening our horizon beyond the narrow perspective of our own worries and increasing national fixation. A pandemic does not know any borders –but neither does our God.

     

  • Prayer Alert - March 21, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

     

    Today, we are sending you a prayer for today and tomorrow. We will not send out an alert on Sunday.

    A Prayer for the World under Pandemic, 21 March 2020

    You, our God:

    What we believed far away has now reached us:

    A virus, so threatening that it turns over the normal order in our country

    and palpably limits our lives.

    Many of us are afraid of what may be coming.

    Many of us do not know how to do what is now necessary.

    Many of us fear for their economic existence or even their survival.

     

    God,

    it is all so strange

    and we cannot even come together

    to be strengthened by a worship service

    and by community with each other.

     

    We remember the infected, waiting in quarantine for what will happen:

    Let them find the support that they need.

    Be close to them and comfort them.

    Take away their fear.

     

    We pray for those who are ill, who are fighting for their lives:

    Hold them in your arms and protect them.

     

    Also protect those who are treating them and caring from them,

    Protect their strength and their empathy.

     

    We thank you for those who are using their knowledge to fight the virus:

    May their insights work for the good of all people.

     

    We pray for the leaders on all levels who now need to make decisions on how to go on:

    Given them wisdom, courage, and an awareness of what their decisions mean for all of us.

     

    God, strengthen the togetherness of our societies.

    Open our eyes so that we can see those who need us now.

     

    Let us, in all worry about our own lives, not forget that we are part of a larger world:

    We pray in particular for those fighting for survival on Europe’s borders and in Northern Syria.

    We pray for those in countries with weak governments and even weaker health systems.

     

     

    God,

    in this crisis, show us what really counts in life,

    and strengthen our powers for goodness.

     

    Amen.

    (Written in German by Rev. Sylvia Bukowski, Wuppertal. Translated and slightly amended by Claudia Währisch-Oblau.)

     

    Greetings to all of you with the watchword and the doctrinal text for today:

    The Lord said, “I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid.” Leviticus 26:6

    And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

  • Prayer Alert - March 20, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    In response to the prayer alerts of the last few days, we have received several messages from leaders of UEM member churches which we want to share with you today. It is encouraging and strengthening to see how despite the impossibility of travel and meetings, we remain connected through prayer.

    Please also remember in your prayers the UEM North-South and South-North volunteers who have been ordered by the German government to go home, and whose travel is now very difficult to arrange.

     

    The Moderamen (leadership) of the GBKP in North Sumatra has sent us this letter:

    Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our healer and sanctuary in the midst of this pandemic,

    Thank you for the prayer alert due to the Corona Pandemic. We are all worry and try to do some effort to stop the spreading of the virus. Even we are in Karo Land is not as strict as in German for social distancing, but as a church GBKP has made the pastoral letter to all congregation members as the alert and to urge the congregation members to be aware. Some of the worship services have been closed and held through live streaming, but mostly are still running as usual. Also with the Bible Study groups now have been stopped for undetermined time at least until the pandemic is getting over.

    Of course this situation is really affected to the church life, but we believe that all will brings better life for our congregation to keep them safe and healthy.

    Luckily in this technology era we could keep in touch even there is a distance between us, and GBKP itself is also challenging by the existences of this pandemic. As you know this year the annual theme for GBKP is "Developing the capability of congregation in managing Information and the skill in using the information technology." We are challenged to implement this theme in the midst of the current situation now.

    GBKP is also struggling now due to the big event of Synod Assembly which will be held soon this coming April 13-18, 2020. Seeing the rapid outbreak of Covid-19, and this assembly will involve thousands of Pastors and church leaders of GBKP from all over Indonesia, there is a possibility that the implementation of this assembly will be postponed. Please pray for the better situation and for Moderamen GBKP as well as the Committee of this Assembly to make a good decision for the Synod Assembly.

    For sure, we will keep in touch and continue to pray that this pandemic will over soon and all the sick will be cured, those who lost their beloved one due to the pandemic will get a true reassurance from God.

     

    The President of the CBCA in the DR Congo, Rev. Dr Samuel Ngayihembako, writes:

    Dear Partners,

    Beloved in Christ,

    May the peace and grace of the Lord be with you in this difficult time all over the world.

    Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the same measures that restrict gatherings in order to prevent the spread of this virus are also applicable here in D.R. Congo. Yesterday, the President of the DRC communicated a series of measures banning gatherings, including worship in churches, for a period of four weeks from March 19, 2020.

    Taking into account this press release, we, the CBCA General Secretariat, wrote to all our Superintendents of our 18 Church Districts to instruct them how prayers, morning devotions and worship will be organized in "small family units".

    Here at the General Secretariat, we have adopted a work system which allows the staff to take turns at the office in reduced numbers so that a minimum and acceptable work is ensured. There will certainly be a slowdown of work.

    Nevertheless, we count on the help of the Most High, we continue to remain united in prayer and we wish you, once again, the peace of the Lord.

     

    The following is a letter from Rev. Dr. Pascal Bataringaya, the President of the EPR in Rwanda, to all the church’s partners:

    Dear Brethren in Christ,

    Dear friends,
    Please do receive the best greetings from the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (EPR)/Kigali). I would like to give you an update on the situation in the EPR and in Rwanda in general at this time when the world is facing the pandemic of Coronavirus.

     

    As you know, the EPR is in partnership with many Churches and Christian organizations around the world and in many countries where this pandemic has paralyzed life at all levels. We lift you in our prayers.

     

    Since the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Rwanda on 14/3/2020, today the number of cases declared positive has increased to 11 people infected by the virus. The Government of Rwanda has applied precautionary measures to limit the outbreak of the virus among the population. These measures include limiting travels, avoiding mass gatherings including Sunday services, physical meetings, services that gather many people in offices as well as the closure of all schools (Nursery, primary, secondary, and university) until the next communication of new order (there is the official document on the measures taken). 

    ​As can be seen, these measures will affect the activities at all levels and life in the country in general and in the church in particular, especially the life in parishes. They affect also the activities of the Church at the Head office and in the various areas of church life.

    In the meantime, the work is done at home (home office). Nevertheless, there may be an arrangement in case of emergency whereby someone can go to the office for urgent activities taking into account the precautionary measures taken. We are going through the crisis in this way of course waiting for the situation to improve for the resumption of activities with our hope in God who restores life.

    We know that you are in the same situation where you are and that is the same situation all over the world. Let us pray that the might hand of the Lord be on all of us and on his children in this world in distress, may his grace accompany those who give themselves day and night to help the sick, families and all those in difficulty in the world. We pray for brothers and sisters with whom we share the faith and who are facing this pandemic. We pray for the whole world that the strategies taken may be accompanied by God’s hand and that they may respond effectively to the current challenges. We pray for doctors and researchers on COVID-19 that the Holy Spirit guide them in their work.

    We keep you all in our prayers and remain with you in fraternal communion. In the hope that the situation will improve in the nearer future, we will keep you informed of situation in the country and its impact on Church activities.

    ​Dear brethren and friends, our faith in God does not shelter us from trials but reassures us that God Himself accompanies us. Consequently, even in the present time of distress, the Lord says: "Behold, I am with you all the days, unto the end of the world (Mt 28:20)."

    May the Lord be with you, keep you and bless you.

     

    From Rev. Boni Kombo, Deputy General Secretary of the ECD in Tanzania, we received this message:

    It is really sad to hear and learn about corona problem and how it affects people's lives, spiritually and physically.

    Here in Tanzania, in the ECD to be precise, we are not in a lock-down situation. However, Government Officials have advised the nation that gatherings should be minimized, people should not travel unless necessary, to avoid handshakes, hugs and to wash hands often.

    All in all, we are praying for the God's intervention and hopes for those who are bereaved, those who are sufferings from corona, and all those who are affected in one way or another with this tragedy.

    And from the ELCT Presiding Bishop’s Office in Tanzania, Rev. Anicet Maganya writes:

    Thanks for sharing daily prayers from our big faith family.

    Let us stay grounded and pray for one another as the Word of God ensures that He cares for us.

    "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" - 1 Peter 5:7

  • Prayer Alert - March 19, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today I am sharing with you some messages from around the world. We are a community that prays for each other and encourages each other.

    God is always with us and he cares for us.

     

    Joseph Kalemba, DR Congo:

    Our God promised us in Exodus Chapter 23 verse 25 by saying: "You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you".

    So let us keep on reminding our God on what he has promised us while serving him hard and honestly.

     

    Agnes Lema, Tanzania:

    We really need God’s mercy. Just coming out of Ebola that has killed many, Congolese are now living under fear. The government is still slow in taking decisions. How will Congolese who have to go out every day for survival, survive?

     

    Marthe Maleke Kondemo, DR Congo:

    We have started a prayer chain every day at 7 p.m. Please join us for prayer!

    Ramesh Fernando, Sri Lanka:

     

    Yes, this pandemic brought all of us to lock ourselves where ever we are and down to our knees to pray to our God that all of us will be spared from this virus and those who are infected will be healed.

    Let us all trust in our GOD WHO is indeed bigger than this Virus. Praying.

    Jeaneth Faller, Philippines:

    The Government took some measures on Tuesday forbidding gatherings of more than 50 people. Church services are not forbidden, but in my parish, we have decided to suspend all the meetings. We are keeping in touch with the congregants through WhatsApp and Facebook.

    We remain prayerful, confident that our strength abides in the Lord.

     

    Jacques Ngahne Ngouaba, Cameroon:

    In Germany, churches are calling for prayers at 7 p.m. and at 20:20 every day.

    Let us keep our faith high in God and He will show us the way out of this soon.

    Let us share Psalms 145:18: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

    God bless you all and stay safe and healthy.

    Shukuru Maloda, Zanzibar

    Found on the internet today: A 20-second blessing for neighbors while washing hands:

    FATHER I ask you to bless my neighbors. Would you protect their bodies from sickness. Would you protect their hearts from fear. Would you protect their minds from distraction. Would you fill their hearts with peace. Would you give me an opportunity to serve them with my hands, and share your love with my mouth. Amen.

  • Prayer Alert - March 18, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    For the time being, we will continue to send you a daily prayer alert. In a time of social distancing, lockdowns, and a complete stop of international travel, this is a way to keep our UEM community alive.

    The UEM administration in Wuppertal, Pematang Siantar and Dar es salaam continues to function, even with many people working from home. But people also come to work in the office, and we continue our daily devotions in Wuppertal, doing them outside in our courtyard so that we can keep enough distance between us.

    Some news that we have received since yesterday:

    ELCRN has suspended all worship services and other congregational gatherings. Funeral services will only be held in private homes, with small numbers of attendants and social distancing observed.

    Bishop Sageib writes at the end of his pastoral letter: “Let us meet this time of crisi with Christian hope. The time of Lent culminates in the celebratin of Easter – our brother and Lord Jesus Christ transcended the grave and opened the doors to life in all its beauty and fullness.”

    The Cape Regional Synod of URCSA has also written a pastoral letter to its members, encouraging them to worship at home. But at least some churches will be kept open with a small group of elders doing the Sunday service for all those who are not present.

    UEM co-worker Dr. Josephat Rweyemamu writes from Dumaguete, Philippines, that Sunday services have also been suspended, and that Christians follow worship services on the radio and on YouTube. As the province of Negros Oriental has been put under a state of calamity, and no movement is allowed across provincial borders, there are worries that food and other daily necessities may run out soon.

    Ephorus Togar Simatupang of GKPA writes that his church also published a pastoral letter on the situation. His e-mail ends with these words: “Let's bring this situation in our daily prayers. May our God protect us and make us strong.”

    In a blog post, I found this prayer in times of Coronavirus:

    “God of Mercy, be with the tens of thousands of people who have contracted the coronavirus around the world. Comfort those whose loved ones have died. Bring peace to those living with uncertainty after perhaps being exposed to the virus. Give patience to those who are quarantined and unable to move freely in their communities.

    Wise and Faithful Guide, watch over and protect other people from catching this deadly virus. Strengthen those who are risking their own lives to care for sick patients.

    May we all be filled with compassion for those who are suffering.”

Foto: A. Jäger/VEM
Pfrin Dr. Claudia Währisch-Oblau
Leiterin Evangelisation, Vorstandsmitglied
Rudolfstraße 137
42285 Wuppertal
gospel@vemission.org
0202 89004-190
Foto: A. Jäger/VEM
Dina Kipker
Assistentin Evangelisation
Rudolfstr. 137
42285 Wuppertal
kipker-d@vemission.org
0202-89004-189
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