All of us have a story to share.
Some are joyful. Some are teary. Some provide perspectives. Several are downright heartbreaking. Others are simply inspiring.
I've been receiving and exchanging stories of COVID-19 lockdowns with business and government leaders from around the world since June. As the third wave of the pandemic handcuffs some nations and borders, I turn my attention to you - readers and followers of Affluent Society - and your emails and feedback to me these past months.
While I continue serving my sentence in Melbourne, I will try my best to tell your story.
This Human Stories Series is a cumulation of stories shared with Affluent Society by its readers and followers from around the world.
Ravi and Jyostna Nangedda operate Theophilus Ministries in India's City of Vijayawada, where Ravi has served as pastor to a congregation of 120 people since 2012. Both husband and wife are university graduates, Ravi with a masters degree in MA English and Jyostna with a Bachelors in politics. Both of them have worked the streets and slums over the past 10 years, sharing the gospel especially with widows, orphans and anyone who has lost his or her way in life. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought suffering to their local community in the form of sickness, poverty, food shortage and joblessness. Together with their 24 month old daughter, Anna Priscilla, and their unwavering faith, they continue to touch the lives of those around them.
This is Ravi and Jyostna Nangedda's story as shared with Affluent Society from India:
Vijayawada in the grip of lockdown
We observed friends and neighbors being afraid in their daily lives during the initial lockdown period of almost 45 days. All shops were closed. Daily workers were out of jobs. Families wondered when was their next meal.
The pandemic doesn't sleep and neither does our good work. Many people in our local community still need our help.
Covid-19 cases continue to rise
Although there is information on Covid-19 cases in Andhra Pradaesh, I can't say what the numbers are in our city of Vijayawada. Deaths are most difficult for people to manage as such situations are dealt only by government staff and no one has permission to bury their dead or go to burial grounds.
No jobs and no food
Small-medium businesses are badly affected and 135 million Indians may lose their jobs. Unemployment rate spiked from 8% to 23% after lockdown. The worst impact is felt by our most vulnerable including daily laborers and migrant workers. No jobs means no food on the table.
My wife and I continue to visit the needy in the slums and streets on my two wheeler. We wear masks and hand gloves, and use sanitizers.
A helping hand from our local government
The Andhra Pradesh government extended a helping hand amid the Covid-19 lockdown. They distributed free rations to the poor and the police has been seen handing out biryani and chicken curry to homeless people. Medical assistance was made available to everyone. Mobile swab collection buses were dispatched to deliver Covid-19 tests. We seems to have several more in our city of Vijayawada. Awareness programs were organised through television and social media. A police officer in Pyapili town of Kurnool district even rode a white horse covered with red patterns of Covid-19 virus to make people remember to severity of this virus.
Kindness amidst suffering
One unique group in India is our transgender community. Andhra Pradesh has over 60,000 such persons who depend on live celebrations, performances, sex work and begging to earn a living. Their livelihood has been destroyed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet members of this community have taken out their savings to feed the poor while they themselves are suffering during the lockdown.
Our pastoral work continues
The pandemic doesn't sleep and neither does our good work. Many people in our local community still need our help. With our congregation, we tend to the sick and needy. We provide them with vegetables, fruits, groceries, medicine, mask and sanitizers weekly and monthly.
My wife and I continue to visit the needy in the slums and streets on my two wheeler. We wear masks and hand gloves, and use sanitizers. I tell my church community to continue to do the same while sharing the gospel.
Say hello to Ravi and Jyostna Nangedda at http://theophilusministriesindia.org/
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