Recognizing that a global pandemic needs a global response, Mennonite Mission Network is collaborating in many ways to ease the burdens of communities around the world.
GOSHEN, Indiana (Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission/Mennonite Mission Network) — Mennonite Mission Network's Executive Cabinet acted early in the COVID-19 pandemic to release $20,000 in emergency aid to help its global partners. Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso) received $2,000 of Mission Network's funds allocated on Mar. 24.
Siaka Traoré, one of the national Mennonite leaders, described the proposal for sharing the gift. The most immediate need is to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to untouched regions of the nation, Traoré said. This will be done through raising awareness in congregations and community education about implementing practices to remain healthy.
A longer-term aspect of the church's COVID-19 response is providing seed for planting. The novel coronavirus hasn't spread quickly in Burkina Faso due to an almost total lock-down of the country. However, this means that families, used to buying food for each day because of lack of refrigeration and other means of storing produce, are eating their seed — beans, corn, millet, peanuts and sorghum.
"COVID-19 has caused people to lose hope," Traoré said. "Some of them have become fatalistic and eaten what they reserved for planting."
In an e-mail dated May 5, Traoré wrote about how such demonstrations of compassion encouraged the church in Burkina Faso.
"We don't know how to express our gratitude to our brothers and sisters in North America," Traoré said. "[We are especially moved] that those in the United States, who despite their suffering in the country currently hardest hit by the pandemic, have thought about us in other parts of the world."
Earlier dispersals of Mission Network's emergency funds went to Latin America in April. Mennonite churches and communities in Iquitos, Peru, and in Ecuador received $4,000 to provide food and rent for families struggling to survive.
In creating the COVID-19 emergency fund in March, Mission Network leaders acted on the conviction that every person who becomes a follower of Jesus also becomes a member of a global family, said Executive Director Stanley W. Green.
"We saw it as imperative to take action that demonstrated this belief," Green said. "The body of Christ knows no boundaries. We owe each other compassion and support in time of struggle and crisis."
In addition to its own COVID-19 emergency funding, Mission Network and its partners are joining hands in other efforts.
- Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM) sent an additional $27,700 to Democratic Republic of Congo for UMER Phase 2.
- AIMM, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mission Network have contributed $11,200 to an awareness-raising campaign to be led by Congolese Mennonites. Two of the three Mennonite denominations in Congo have designed teaching posters. These visual tools will be used by trainers in each congregation.
- Mission Network is collaborating with a dozen other Anabaptist mission and service agencies in a unified effort to mitigate the ravages of COVID-19 in countries with few resources. This response was initiated by Mennonite World Conference.