“I Think I Would Have Died If It Wasn’t for You.”

A day in the life of UK mission in a COVID-19 world.

6AM: The team at the British Asian Christian Association (BACA) use the FareShare app to source leftover supermarket food. Sometimes this means an early pick-up to collect donations; it’s an early start, but worth it to secure items to give to people in desperate need.

8AM: Pastor Darren leads an online devotional for about half an hour with 10-15 others; many of whom are new Christians. He then prepares to go out and serve his community.
Darren has 51% kidney function and is thus in the ‘at risk’ group, but he still feels called to serve.

“The PPE helps me to feel safe knowing I can still serve the Lord and put in an honest shift for Jesus. It allows me to do this ministry and help around 100 people a week” – Pastor Darren

Pastor Darren

9AM: The foodbank at the British Asian Christian Association opens. Hannah (16) is BACA’s youngest volunteer, and was due to sit her GCSEs this summer. Instead, she has been helping out by providing hot meals and food packages for the homeless, or financially deprived in her community.

They have been able to provide a hot meal, emotional care, and access to temporary accommodation for 17 rough sleepers so far. A grant, and a PPE community care kit from Samaritan’s Purse, are now helping them to do even more.

“I’ve made a really great friendship with one of them. Her story is amazing and it’s just nice to know her … Dee served in the army for nine years. After being injured by a bullet in her spine, she lost the bottom half of one leg and now wears a metal prosthetic. After five years of rough sleeping, she is now in accommodation and being supported by BACA and others. She is taking a cooking course and doing well.” – Hannah, British Asian Christian Association

Another man named Satnum was sleeping rough, but after receiving several meals provided by BACA he began to trust the team. He was directed to Ryedale Centre in Ilford and with their help, gained a temporary home.

Home for Satnum before he was housed

10AM: Pastor Darren is shopping for the vulnerable in his community, using his grant from Samaritan’s Purse to purchase supplies.

One recipient is an elderly lady in her 80s who is unable to get out for food supplies and essentials.

Addressing Darren she said:

“I don’t know what would happen if you weren’t here. I think I would have died if it wasn’t for you.”

She told Darren he was her only friend and the only person that speaks to her and helps her.

NOON: Helen from the Lifeline Larder begins to sort through supplies of food, toiletries and other essential sanitary items. Two more volunteers also arrive for this important task. They all don personal protective equipment to make the up the parcels – eager to ensure destitute families receive gifts of nappies and personal hygiene items alongside much needed food. The supplies and the task at hand are made possible by gifts from the local community, and a grant and PPE kit from Samaritan’s Purse.

2:30PM: Volunteers for the Lifeline Larder are busy delivering care packages across their community to people referred by the local primary school and other local contacts.

Sarah delivering care parcels

Hopping out of her car and donning a mask and gloves, Sarah knocks on the first door of the day. She is greeted by Sheila; an older lady who suffers from severe arthritis and has no one to look after her.

Having PPE to make deliveries is key. Sheila benefits as much from a friendly chat, and knowing she isn’t forgotten, as she does from the care package. Many of the recipients of Lifeline Larder’s support, like Sheila, are in dire need of not just physical items but also human interaction. Often these key human needs can be forgotten and overlooked, and personal protective equipment makes these socially distanced interactions held on the doorstep so much safer.

This care not only supports people’s mental health; it can literally save lives.

“We’ve been supporting an elderly lady in our community who had just had a hip operation. Her daughter couldn’t visit her, so we have been providing physical and emotional support. When we last called she didn’t answer … we found her lying on the floor with a broken leg and neck. We worked with the emergency services and she was taken into hospital. If someone hadn’t been there to check on her she would have literally died. It’s so sad that so many people are forgotten in our communities but we are doing all we can to change that.” The Lifeline Larder.

3PM: Pastor Darren is collecting and delivering prescription medications for people needing to isolate. He has just returned from the GP surgery, where he had to have a blood test. While he was there, he overheard that they had run out of face masks, and were unable to see more patients that day. He promptly donated some of his own supply, despite being in the ‘at risk’ category himself. Unknown to Darren in that moment, and in an instance of divine timing, a member of Samaritan’s Purse who had spoken to him on the phone that morning and, knowing his status, had shipped him extra FFP2 masks to ensure even more protection. He received our call letting him know these were on their way just minutes after he left the GP!
After making his deliveries, Darren puts on a fresh face mask and gloves in order to transport a pregnant lady to the hospital. She has no money or means to get there without his aid.

Late Afternoon: Hannah and others at BACA are delivering food parcels and other essential supplies to those who are unable to fend for themselves. These include: an NHS nurse forced into self-isolation because of sickness, and who is living with five children under the age of ten; a woman with diagnosed Asperger syndrome and a heart condition, and a homeless man aged 64, who is not able to leave his ‘safe shelter’ as part of his agreement.

5PM: Hannah and the team at BACA are back at the community centre in order to cook hot meals before the evening service. The gloves in the PPE kit supplied by Samaritan’s Purse have helped to protect both her and the team and reduce the risk of unwitting transmission as food parcels were prepared and delivered earlier, and now as the hot meals are cooked. It’s now time to slip on another fresh face mask and take the food to the car park of the Prince of Wales pub. It’s from here they serve hot meals to those most in need in their community, in a space where people can effectively social distance outside.

The British Asian Christian Association distributing food

7PM: Jennifer picks gloves and masks from her Samaritan’s Purse PPE kit to distribute to her volunteers as they head out to provide a hot meal to the town’s homeless community. Some are struggling with being in the hotel room they have been given, as they’ve become used to sleeping outside, so they often head out onto the streets for the night.

The night shift had initially stopped due to the lockdown and lack of personal protective equipment. But now with good quality PPE provided by Samaritan’s Purse, work is resuming.

Alongside a hot meal the project also gifts the homeless beneficiaries with face masks. This not only allows them to keep safer as they go about their day, but importantly, it equalises the relationship. Many of the homeless recipients have lived with a stigma of being looked down and regarded as dirty. With volunteers and homeless people all wearing masks, it avoids reinforcing a painful stereotype. This way, the message can be shared that we all need to protect each other in these difficult times, and conversations can naturally occur as to how to take care in a COVID-19 world.

As the evening draws in another day of service in Jesus’ Name comes to a close and people go home to rest, ready to begin anew tomorrow…

N.B.  all of these stories are real, but some names have been altered for privacy reasons, and events compiled to illustrate what a typical day for those serving in their communities is like.

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