Mercy Moment

Grants Help Provide for People in Latin America Amid COVID-19

Churches in Peru, Panama and other countries are able to provide physical and spiritual food to those impacted by the pandemic.

“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?’ … ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matt. 25:37–40).

In a part of the world where hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, and the numbers continue to rise, there is something that fuels a much greater fear in people’s minds and hearts than the virus.

With no running water for washing hands, they live in one-room, tin-covered huts on steep, dusty hillsides. In the poorest areas of Lima, Peru, multiple families share a common lavatory. For these families, hand sanitizer and masks cannot be a priority, as every last coin is spent on physical sustenance. Peru had one of the earliest and longest-lasting lockdowns in Latin America. Now with prolonged unemployment, the over-riding fear of starvation is palpable.

Due to the generosity of many in the LCMS, World Relief and Human Care was able to give a special $5,000 grant to the Lutheran congregations in Peru to bring not only physical food but also spiritual food to those living in poverty. With these funds, congregations created food baskets with rice, beans, oil and other provisions for those in need. In the Los Olivos congregation, members could either use the food themselves or give their basket to another family. During the food distribution, Vicar Elvis Carrera held a short Bible study with each recipient and prayed for them.

“Some of them cry a lot because of their situation, but they can see with this mercy work that God never left them alone. They come here to receive physical food, but they also receive spiritual food. They can take this home to their families,” Carrera said. “We thank God. That is the only thing we can say.”

The church is able to reach out in similar ways across Latin America thanks to support from donors like you. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Panama has used a $5,800 grant from the LCMS to help meet the needs of its church workers, one of whom has been without a salary for some time due to the pandemic. The church also has provided food for congregational members and people in the community.

The Lutheran churches in Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay have also used LCMS grants — totaling nearly $45,000 — to provide the hungry with good things from the Lord.

“Please pray that our Lord will continue to work even in the midst of these challenging times to bring people closer to Him,” said Missionary Pastor Arthur Rickman, who is based in Panama.

Learn More

Jana Inglehart 

LCMS missionary and communication specialist for the Latin America and Caribbean region.

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