The world is reeling as it wrestles to contain the novel coronavirus and the economic devastation that lies in its wake.
What does this struggle look like for the continent with the world’s highest population growth rate and home to 20 per cent of humanity?
In Africa where over 400 million people live on less than AU $2.76 per day, the economic effects of Covid-19 will be vastly different to those seen in wealthier nations. African populations are facing the same lockdowns we are, but when they don’t have the option to go out and work – they don’t have the option to feed their families.
Ben Campbell, CEO of African Enterprise Australia, joined Neil Johnson on Vision Christian Radio’s 20Twenty program to share the realities of what is going on during this pandemic, and the opportunity this crisis has created to share the real hope of Jesus to those in desperate need.
“In Africa, where it’s struggling with many forms of diseases already, economic issues, wars, conflicts and then suddenly there Covid has thrust itself upon the scene,” Ben shares.
“People are suffering because the governments know they don’t have the medical resources to be able to deal with a massive influx of patients like we’ve seen in other parts of the world. There’s been quite a sense of trepidation has they prepare for this situation.”
Lockdowns can be effective in stopping the spread of the virus, but there are all sorts of dire issues that come as a result of these forced measures.
“The African nations have been quite receptive in helping to prevent the spread of this particular virus, in no small part because some nations have been dealing with things such as the spread of Ebola. So they have systems in place for temperature checking and locking down streets.”
“Many nations have taken an early response to this impending crisis by going into lockdown. Kenya has just gone into another further four-week lockdown after at least a month already in lockdown.”
“What it has done is people that were already living hand to mouth, going out to sell wares in the streets – they’re not able to do that anymore. So we’re finding the situation where there is a bit of a trade-off between people not catching this awful virus or just not having food to eat.”
With this virus now several months into it’s spread, the economic impact of ongoing lockdowns is devastating local populations in desperate need of food.
“We’re seeing in some places like South Africa where people have been queuing from 2am for up to 16 hours to visit one of the not-for-profits that is providing food, without any guarantee that they’ll have a food package at the end of that line. And that’s a really devastating issue that is impacting Africans right now.”
African Enterprise is a global Christian organisation with a heart to reach people for Christ by working with local churches to provide practical assistance and teaching on God’s Word. Over 100,000 people come to Christ each year through the work of this organisation.
However, things have had to completely change for the organisation during this global pandemic.
“We’ve actually had to do a complete reset of our ministry model,” Ben continues. “Typically the model is large evangelistic campaigns, going out to the streets cleaning, holding prayer groups and gatherings, going out to the streets and witnessing.”
“With the lockdown situation we’re not able to do that. So from a ministry perspective, we’ve launched into something that has gained attention across Africa. It’s home based evangelistic programs, which is a way we reach into household communities and groups of people living together with video, radio and TV.”
“And a lot of people have smart phones so we’re able to communicate to them through video messaging. Finally, we have the online decision cards that we tend to hand out. So when people make a decision for Christ, they’re able to fill that out electronically as well.”
“With practical support, we’ve typically done programs teaching women skills such as making bags and selling them in the markets. That’s now had to change around to making face masks and more sanitary equipment such as soaps and detergents to help stop the spread of the virus.”
Continue listening to Neil’s full conversation with Ben Campbell about the work of spreading the Gospel during a pandemic in the podcast below.
For more information about the work of African Enterprise and how you can support this ministry though prayer and financial gifts visit africanenterprise.com.au