God cares deeply about vulnerable people. Psalm 146 tells us that He “upholds the cause of the oppressed” and that He “watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow.”
As we work in Christ’s name, World Renew staff pay special attention to the effect of COVID-19 on at-risk groups—including women and girls. Guided by World Health Organization recommendations, we will adjust our programs that address the needs of marginalized groups in Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America to meet the needs of vulnerable groups. Whether they get the virus or not, all communities will experience fallout from COVID-19. Some will experience more hardship than others. Research on past epidemics reveals that women often suffer more due to physical and social differences between men and women in their distinct roles in the economy and community.
We will endeavor to adapt our programs to provide cash and food or other supplies to older adults; persons affected by HIV; female, child-headed, or single-parent households; persons with disabilities; and other vulnerable families. Our programs will also respond to the economic and psychosocial needs of men who, in most instances, are the breadwinners of their families and currently inhibited from providing for their families due to stay-home orders.
In countries where World Renew has partnerships with other agencies, our staff will refer people they serve to our partners: those who need a safe place to escape abuse; who need legal help; who need counseling, or other personal support. We will also equip our international ministry teams to collaborate with local radio stations in sharing truthful, easy-to-understand information. Where possible we will translate prevention instructions into local languages. These broadcast messages remind communities and people in leadership, including government officials, not to ignore the needs of women and vulnerable groups. Where possible, we will adapt and use mobile phones to continue offering trauma counseling and other services in communities where World Renew works. Most importantly, our staff will watch for unexpected ways the pandemic affects at-risk people so that we can respond quickly and effectively.
We will also encourage our donors and stakeholders to give as they are able to care for the most vulnerable during the pandemic and to fight systemic injustice in the long term. Together, we are part of God’s restorative work of bringing shalom on earth.