Foursquare churches and members in the United States have responded generously to a special appeal by Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR) on behalf of desperate pastors in other parts of the world.
The ministry’s Adopt-a-Pastor fund was launched this month to provide food for ministers in countries where the coronavirus pandemic has brought many to the brink of starvation. With less savings or safety net services available to turn to, they have continued to try to serve their congregations and communities, sometimes going without food themselves to ensure others are cared for. FDR has been supporting those efforts, providing funds in around a dozen countries—as well as helping some U.S. churches provide protective masks to local health workers.
The Adopt-a-Pastor fund was started in response to the May 5 Giving Tuesday Now initiative, which saw the organizers of the global Giving Tuesday campaign held each December to raise money for nonprofits and charities extend the idea to help meet COVID-19 needs. A $50 donation will help FDR feed a pastor and their family for a month, providing essentials such as rice, beans, oil and canned fruit. The funds are being dispersed by regional leaders.
“This is an opportunity for us to stand with pastors who are continuing to try to serve others even while they are struggling immensely themselves,” says Chad Isenhart, FDR’s international response director. “By supporting them, we not only meet their needs, but we also help ensure that they are able to continue to help so many others who are in need and continue to bring a gospel presence.”
While U.S. churches have a responsibility to care for their members and reach out to their communities, “it is good to remember those in other parts of the world where the impact of the pandemic is even more severe,” adds Chad. “It has been encouraging to see how people have wanted to be part of this. Even a small contribution can make a big difference and is a statement that we are all in this together.”
At the new Adopt-a-Pastor website, FDR explains that supply chains have been shut down in many regions, leaving communities without critical supplies or food. The appeal: “As our international pastors give from their meager resources to support church members who are in even greater crisis, let’s return the love of Jesus to these pastors.”
“This is an opportunity for us to stand with pastors who are continuing to try to serve others even while they are struggling immensely themselves.”
— Chad Isenhart, FDR international response director
In a Facebook message supporting the initiative, Ted Vail, vice president of global operations and director of Foursquare Missions International, spoke of how pastors are trying to meet needs in the coronavirus crisis, like one in Ecuador who had fashioned a makeshift protective suit out of garbage bags and duct tape so he could help families find deceased love ones. “But you know how it is as pastors,” Ted stated, “that’s what they do. Pastors are heroes.”
The Adopt-a-Pastor appeal has been welcomed by John Kamanzi, Foursquare’s national leader in Uganda. “People have nothing to eat, and they are calling every day to our office asking, ‘Please, can you help us; please, can you help us?’” he says. “My prayer and simple request to all of us, as the family of Foursquare, is to join hands and see how we can help.”
That message is echoed by Mark Warren, pastor of Grace Capital (Pembroke Foursquare Church) in Pembroke, N.H., who is a member of FDR’s advisory group. Having been focused on his own community’s needs for some time, he realized that he needed to lift up his head and “begin to see the world again the way that Jesus sees it,” he says, “knowing that those who were probably in dire straits before COVID-19 happened are probably in worse conditions.”
He urges other local pastors in the U.S to remember that, while needs in their areas are big, “the ends of the earth need us, and they need our help. They need our love, they need our prayers, they need our care, but they need our finances.”