The Rev. Andrew Lee (Advance # 3022316), a native South Korean who previously pastored a church in Hawaii, has witnessed hardships related to the coronavirus while serving as a missionary in Cambodia.
“The Cambodia government suspended the issuing of visas for tourists the whole year, which affected the local economy of Cambodia immensely,” Lee said. “Personally, I have seen an increasing fear and anxiety among Cambodians, and indeed, the poor became poorer, especially the widows and children and other marginalized ones from the society.”
The Asia regional office of Global Ministries created a relief fund to support Cambodians hurting economically, Lee said. COVID-19 prevention education also was provided and about 1,000 needy families identified for extra help included homeless people, street children and widows living in poverty.
Those people received 10-kilogram sack of rice, as well as soaps, reusable masks and sanitizer.
“We also have reached out to women factory workers because many garment factories in Cambodia have shut down and the workers were on unpaid leave since March,” Lee said.
The pandemic in Congo has changed the job of Innocent Afful (Advance # 3021967), a Ghanaian working with orphans and vulnerable children.
“During the pandemic period, everything is down and hunger seems to be the most dangerous situation to our various orphanage homes,” Afful said. “That is the reason we have to be self-reliant and cultivate our own crops to feed the various homes and the vulnerable children, rather than seeking much from the society and other donors.”
“We had five young adults who are in a two-year fellow’s program and they were scheduled to go home in May or June of (2020),” Chung said. “Most of those flights were either canceled or postponed.
“Those who had to stay longer, we were able to work things out with the partners so that they can still continue to engage in some work, although there’s been limitations on how much they can do sometimes due to local lockdowns and things like that.”
One missionary had his flight changed 18 times before finally making it home, she said.
Lee and his family had planned to leave Cambodia during the summer to visit relatives. His wife and daughters were able to make the flight, but Lee opted to stay behind.
“I decided to stay in Cambodia because of the COVID-19 relief project,” Lee said. “I realized that people needed me more than ever before. … I’m thankful that God granted me this opportunity to stay with friends and become much closer to them during this challenging time of our lives.”
COVID-19 has caused some prospective missionaries “to make a decision that they are not quite ready to be outside of their home community in the midst of what is happening,” Chung said.
“But there are others who are sensing the need for missions in times like this. There’s a greater need.”
excerpt from a story by Jim Patterson, UM News reporter in Nashville, Tennessee.
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