Churches & Christians: Network, Unite & Act for 3rd Wave & Post COVID Impact
Churches & Christians: Network, Unite & Act for 3rd Wave & Post COVID Impact
Open Letter to His Eminences, Your Graces & Shepherd Leaders
Churches, NGOs & Christians: Unite & Act Post COVID to Protect the Indian Christian Flock
Greetings from your flock - the common Indian Christians!
At the onset, we thank God for the gift of you all, especially all religious involved in full-time ministry and provided us with the much needed servant-leadership.
Let me also briefly introduce myself as Joseph Dias (bro. Joe Dias), who has been passionate about the plight of poor, persecuted and taken-for-granted Indian Christians for the last over 35 years. Thanks to the late Cardinal Ivan Dias, I served as Secretary of the Bombay Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and in other senior capacities. I am also always grateful to Cardinal Oswald Gracias who has encouraged me, along with several other bishops. I founded the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) and the Christian Revival Oriented Social Service (CROSS), which have successfully taken-up a long list of community causes. Over the last 30+ years, I have organized the Stations of the Cross every Good Friday - an enactment of the crucifixion on the streets, attended by thousands with witnessing, evangelizing, penance, fasting, prayer, etc.
The last year has been a nightmare for all of us who are blessed to be alive and well. Death was lurking just round the corner. And still is. Myself and many like-minded are wondering what we could do in the little time we have left? After prayer, contemplation and interaction through social media on the miserable plight of our community, we decided on an online petition in Christian love.
It is addressed to you, but goes out to each of the clergy and laity who are in a position to act - for to whom much is given, much will be demanded. We appeal to you also because action has to be initiated and monitored at your end for it to be effectively felt at the grassroots level. Individually, we do not have resources for the gigantic task. But, you could have or at least have access to resources. What we do have, we are prepared to place at your disposal.
The most-affected is the common Christian – physically, mentally & financially. As we are still in the middle of it, the full and worse impact is yet to be felt. We have lost many priests/pastors/nuns, besides hundreds of Christians - who have left behind their families in a bad shape – widows, orphans & grieving loved ones. We have seen our COVID affected begging at mandirs, masjids, churches, gurudwaras, charities, hospitals, etc. for ICUs, food, beds, masks, bodies, oxygen, vaccines, medicines... And managing with whatever little they could get as they had no choice.
The Churches and Christians did a commendable job. Special mention must be made of Caritas, Healthcare Champions, Archdioceses of Bombay, Bangalore and Bishop Percival Fernandez’s Medical Fund, Salesians, Jesuits and many others. Many Christians from the metros or cities are able to fend for themselves and also contribute towards assisting the disadvantaged parts of the body of Christ. But, the vast majorities of most-in-need are community members among the urban poor and those in the missions, towns, rural and tribal outposts. Have our clergy and frontline health workers been cared for?
Request Each Bishop/Church/NGO to ask these questions:
1. How are COVID affected families managing - care, treatment and livelihood?
2. Do we know who and how many in our (ark) jurisdiction are COVID affected?
3. What resources are needed, in what quantities and where can they be sourced?
4. Do we have a crises/disaster/emergency management plan for a repeat situation?
5. Can we have projects better managed & contribute surplus resources to rebuild lives elsewhere?
6. Are there finances for basic nutrition, healthcare, education, family expenses and future needs?
7. Have we evaluated – our co-ordination, documentation, SWOT analysis, loss prevention, future precautions, etc.?
Pan India collective action will prevent a future catastrophe:
The corona virus has come to stay with multiple waves, strains, mutations... We can’t say now - we didn’t know. It’s a wake-up call that warns of similar or other emergencies/calamities awaiting us. The effects are especially serious for the poor, clergy, lonely, children, women, seniors, handicapped, disadvantaged and other weaker community members. It is our responsibility as shepherds to protect and care for them. Our actions today will determine our own future and theirs. The Bible is full of quotes as to why Christians need to unite and work as one body of Christ - the early Christians’ lifestyles and how the apostles/disciples managed reliefs to widows are examples to follow.
Our forefathers/ancestors out of love for Christ and his Church contributed to build what resources we have. In many European or "Christian" countries there are empty churches, properties and institutions being sold/taken-over and the common Christians left to fend for themselves or living on charity/dole. Surely, some blame has to lie with the shepherds and community leaders - not for sins of commission, but of omission - as we will all follow, where you lead us. We shudder to imagine how much worse in the future it will be. Is this not preventable, at least for our own small minority? Among these are Jesus’ lost sheep crying out to God for relief. And the Lord will answer their prayer - whether through us or non-Christian angels.
How will you act - Post COVID Christian Response - Possible Solutions
Today, as death is so much more uncertain, we should all be asking ourselves – what account shall we give on our last day? Do we want the suffering of poor Christians on our watch to be held against us? Any and every denomination / diocese / church / parish / rite / NGO can contribute their bit, if they follow these steps:
1. Organize a head and task force with a budget
2. Conduct a survey and audit in excel/spreadsheet
3. In a time-frame, study the possibilities and resources
4. Use existing structures or create some for implementation
5. Document goals, targets, reports, successes, etc. on a website
6. Interact, network or share - needs & resources among all concerned
7. Get assistance of government, corporate CSR, other churches, NGOs...
You can lead us to save and rebuild lives - Identify Needy & Direct Resources
Here are some projects which can be considered not just for poor Christians, but irrespective of religion and with the neediest being first - but all would depend on the resources and budgets available. Create new structures or empower existing ones with funds. Tick off how many of these can be undertaken by you or you have arrangements for:
(A) Helplines (B) Counseling (C) Material Aid (D) Senior Citizens (E) Group Insurance (F) Widows & Orphans (G) Employment Bureau (H) Mental Health Issues (I) Government Schemes (J) Volunteers Task Force (K) Free Food & Education (L) Consultancy & Research (M) Bulk Buying of Essentials (N) Website, Data-bank & Apps (O) Health & Emergency Corpus (P) Banking & Financial Services (Q) Special Collection for COVID Relief (R) Discounted COVID Products & Facilities (S) Co-operatives & Economic Development Fund
On 1st May 2021, in view of Pope Francis dedicating the year to St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, it being International Workers Day and also Maharashtra Day – we, activist volunteers have started building a Christian social online platform. It will be Catholic, Christian, Ecumenical, Evangelical and Non-Denominational. To begin with, as a model - it will focus only on the Western Suburbs of Mumbai – as a template for all of Maharashtra and for any diocese/church to follow. It will ready by May’21 - www.icanmedia.com Any follower of Christ can send info, volunteer, make announcements, offer assistance, highlight activities, post needs, etc. This is all being done free by those who have received the Lord’s blessings freely. Once we are professionally satisfied, this platform will be offered to the community for all India use.
Here is why we feel the need for such an all India platform:
There are many Christian websites or social networking groups, each serving exceptionally well the local community. This will be a national online forum, organized state-wise to begin with aiming to connect lakhs of Christians across India. This we pray will soon grow to a one-stop source of information which will fulfill many purposes, if the LORD wills and you support us. For example, if needs/requirements are posted online, then those who want to assist can respond. It will be a public domain free platform for debate, discussion, suggestion, and flow of ideas for all Indian Christians to benefit.
We have noticed that relief, charity, bonding, assistance or fellowship is left to local churches who have limited resources. The national, state or district church authorities may have the resources, but communication takes time. While some have plenty, there are other local churches that have nothing. There may be lack of co-ordination to correct imbalances between the local, district, state and national levels. Even if there are surplus resources, they are left idle, simply because of lack of initiative/awareness or lack of a mechanism. Many of these issues can be solved online if there is one Christian portal, well-organized and with info that is easy to act on. Many churches do not even have an updated website. Hence, this initiative built as a model for any NGO/Church/Denomination to follow or use. We could assist you in building a website too.
We would keep in touch online, as without your assistance, it is difficult for us to achieve what we have set out to. Besides, most of us have family and work responsibilities to engage full time. We could freely advise and provide consultancy to a coordinator appointed by you.
In the meantime, we request your serious consideration and urgent action on the above projects, as COVID waits for no man. Do let us know how or which of the projects could be implemented as your experience will benefit thousands of others.
Looking forward to your earliest response and feedback.
Your brother in Christ
bro. Joe Dias +91 9769555657
Dated: 1st May 2021, Feast of St. Joseph, International Labour Day & Maharashtra Day