While COVID-19 continues to cause fear, isolation, and illness around the world, we are also witnessing ways in which God is at work in the midst of the chaos, and we continue calling on him to calm the storm!
You Helped Us Prepare
Words of Hope has always cared about making the gospel accessible to people, in a variety of formats and in many different languages.
Over the years your donations have sent packages of devotionals to prisons where they are given to inmates who have lost connection with the outside world. Every day your prayer support allows gospel radio programs to be broadcast into remote mountainous areas where residents are far from a church and are still waiting to hear the name of Jesus.
But never before has remote access to news, information, and hope been so important for so many people. And because of your support, Words of Hope was already poised to keep people connected when the pandemic began its trajectory across the continents.
Hope for Uganda
In 2019, President Jon Opgenorth and a team of Words of Hope friends and pastors traveled to the African country of Uganda. They held training conferences and facilitated preaching and worship times for pastors who had not themselves been ministered to in many years.
On that trip they also brought with them video and computer equipment to support the Ugandan team’s vision for live streaming worship services and teaching programs through their social media channels.
As COVID-19 began threatening lives and livelihoods in Uganda, the president of the country made the decision to shut everything down, asking residents to stay at home and social distance in the same ways that have become so common around the world.
But he also asked the archbishop of the country, Stephen Kaziimba, to produce a series of daily video devotionals to encourage Ugandans while they were forced to stay home.
Through the Lord’s provision and Stephen’s connection to Words of Hope as a member of the in-country board, all of the recording equipment was already in place to make live streaming of these daily meditations accessible for Christians across Uganda.
But the good news doesn’t stop there! Viewers of the programs have been so impressed by the quality that the national Ugandan television stations have picked up the live streams as well! Words of Hope messages from the archbishop and from director Titus Baraka are now being viewed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country daily!
These live streams are a source of encouragement, prayer, and community. They are also a source of information. When people tune in, they gain critical information about the importance of handwashing, mask wearing, and social distancing.
Many bishops from throughout the country have had the opportunity to join in and help in providing the daily messages. In addition to these meditations and the Sunday services, Words of Hope is holding online Freedom in Christ seminars, designed to help people break free from addictions that threaten to control their lives.
A recently streamed service featured prayer, singing, and live translation into different tribal languages for those tuning in. “In the situation that we are going through,” shared the pastor, “we shall do everything! We shall cover our mouths. We shall cover our noses. We shall sanitize. We shall wash our hands. But above all this, we know that there is a God—the author of this world. He is our defender, and our only refuge in these times of trouble.”
Hope for South Sudan
The country of South Sudan is also dealing with the effects of COVID-19. The region has been troubled for years by civil war, has teetered on the edge of mass starvation as farmers fled to refugee camps, and is a truly difficult place to feel trapped during a pandemic.
There are only four ventilators in the entire country of South Sudan. Because of this great lack of the infrastructure necessary to treat people if the virus gets out of hand, lockdown measures are truly important, but people are suspicious of the government and fearful.
Words of Hope South Sudan recognizes this distrust in the hearts of citizens, seeing that right now there is an opportunity to respond with good information and encouragement that people can trust. An innovative new series of radio programs is being aired in the country and made available online titled, “Stay at Home.”
In the series, programmers relate stories of various Bible characters who experienced the grace of God in powerful ways in their own homes. The apostles received the Holy Spirit while sheltering at home. Mary was visited by an angel at home. Prophets received dreams and visions from the Lord at home.
These programs are helping South Sudanese listeners to recognize the importance of social distancing and staying safe at home, while also giving them hope that God can and will use the time that they must stay in their homes to speak to their hearts as well.
More Help Needed
As people in all our ministry fields increasingly rely on remote platforms for connection, inspiration, and hope, Words of Hope producers are seeing engagement and response to programming grow like never before.
People are asking hard questions of faith and desperately searching for the comfort that ultimately only Christ can bring. Because of your support, our systems for interacting with and supporting people were already in place before the pandemic hit. Instead of needing to scramble to create remote networks of communication, thanks to you, all the tools were already in place.
But the need for additional followup, response, and content creation in places like Africa has increased like never before, and we will need more support and prayers in order to continue meeting the need. Thank you for working with us to provide the hope of Christ in these hard times.