New Life Baptist Church, a three-year-old congregation in Hyderabad, India, is busy ministering to both the physical and spiritual needs of its community.
Located in the capital of India’s Telangana state, the church of around 250 has creatively lived out its core values of charity, humility, integrity and availability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samuel Sajan Bontha, New Life’s founder and lead pastor, told EthicsDaily.com via email he estimates the total number of active cases in the city to be just over 1,300, with 32 deaths from the coronavirus.
No one in the church has been infected by the virus so far.
The Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University and Medicine reports nearly 82,000 COVID-19 cases throughout India, with just under 2,700 deaths.
Hyderabad was placed under lockdown on March 22, Bontha said, noting “everyone is living in a grip of fear and uncertainty looking for a ray of hope for their lives.”
Bontha has been providing pastoral care to the congregation by calling each member via telephone or Zoom, offering a live stream of each Sunday sermon and of daily Bible studies through the congregation’s Facebook page, as well as organizing a 24-hour prayer chain in April.
The congregation has mobilized to meet the physical needs of its community by providing food items to dozens of families living below poverty line and by distributing food packets to the homeless on two separate occasions.
“The virus can only lock down the church buildings, but it can never stop the prayers and the ministry of the church,” Bontha said.
“In this difficult situation, the New Life Baptist Church has come forward to take the role of a Samaritan and to become hands and feet of Jesus Christ to show the love and compassion of Jesus to the people who are in need of care and help in this crisis.”