In a bid to tackle some of the dreadful circumstances into which people have been thrust as a result of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the London Ghana Seventh-day Adventist church has launched a 'Hardship Fund' to support immediate neighbours within its local community including vulnerable members.
The church, which already had the welfare and community ministries department delivering a series of charitable activities over many years, found itself confronted with another level of demand which has been unprecedented since the pandemic hit the UK.
The Local Church treasurer, Mr Isaac Asare, spoke of how he has been overwhelmed by the positive response since the Hardship Fund launched in April 2020. "Financial contributions have come from unexpected sources as well as the church members and we have been overwhelmed by the kind and thoughtful gestures from well-wishers since the initiative launched. Just imagine people losing their jobs and being threatened with homelessness, and others thrown into real hardship to the point where even buying basic groceries has been a struggle - here in the UK of all places! We already have an existing Food Bank which we have been working with in partnership with the Trussell Trust organisation since June 2016, but the number of people needing help from the church since COVID-19 struck has really increased and the Pastoral Team has been working tirelessly to offer support to the beneficiaries of the initiative."
£50,000 is the total figure which London Ghana intends to raise over the coming months to cover the cost of supporting the diverse group of beneficiaries which have included widows, the elderly, the clinically vulnerable and others. The church has raised just over £16,250 so far of which £6,250 was a direct result of the appeal made to their Facebook and YouTube viewers since 18 April, and the remaining £10,000 from the local church budget. The Pastoral Team had allocated different areas in which they would each deliver 'good will' packages which consisted of 10kg bags of rice, 6 packs of sardines, a bottle of washing detergent, a pack of nine toilet rolls, 5 litres of cooking oil, 46 bottles of water and a pack of 12 large-sized tinned tomatoes, to each of the identified persons.
The former Ministerial Secretary of the South England Conference, Pastor Ebenezer Jones-Lartey, who is now the head pastor of the London Ghana congregation, remains decidedly positive despite the intensity of what has been happening since the churches were forced to shut to adhere to the stringent social distancing rules from the government back in March. "I'm in high spirits because I know that there is hope beyond 2020! It gives me great pleasure to serve my parishioners as well as members of the community who are suffering for one reason or another. Some of the beneficiaries believed they should be offering me personal support at this time being a minister, but I was quick to remind them that Christ came to serve and not to be served and that is what I, as His servant, seek to emulate."
The London Ghana Church 'Hardship Fund' is still open for contributions and at a time when almost every sector of society has been affected by the COVID-19 situation, it is encouraging to see all forms of community organisations introducing various initiatives to support those who have been profoundly affected by the 2020 Coronavirus crisis.