As Christian workers Neil and Marisa Mather* watched the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to sweep through East Asia back in February, they knew they had to do something to help. Though they were in the U.S. at the time, they mobilized their church partners and raised enough money to buy around 3,000 face masks.
Early in the pandemic, East Asian governments had not begun to ration the purchase of face masks, and they were very hard to find. The donated masks were distributed to three different local churches Neil and Marisa partnered with. The East Asian churches then delivered the masks to impoverished villages surrounding their cities and reported that people were very grateful to receive them.
When the Mathers first began raising money, they had no idea face masks would soon become a rare commodity even in the United States. It wasn’t long before COVID-19 began to spread throughout America though, and stores began to have shortages of supplies just like in East Asia.
That’s when the churches in East Asia that Neil and Marisa had helped did something completely unexpected—they raised $2800 to buy and ship face masks back to America. This wasn’t an easy offering for them to gather, as many people had lost their jobs or been furloughed due to the virus.
“We were shocked that after having just gone through hardships, and many still without pay, the believers were able to raise so much money to buy masks for us,” said Marisa. “Them wanting to love us in this way was so very touching.”
The masks were shipped to Christians in New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee whom the East Asian churches had partnered with before. The American believers then distributed the donated masks to hospital workers, cancer patients, essential workers, and other at-risk demographics. Hundreds of people were helped by the generosity of the East Asian believers.
One person in New York who helped distribute the masks wrote back to the churches said, “Know that your kindness and concern for others will never be forgotten…If nothing else, all I can say is that the Father will one day say to you all, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servants.’”
COVID-19 has taken a lot from people these last few months. It’s taken loved ones, it’s taken opportunities, and it’s taken even simple joys like gathering together. But it hasn’t taken the church’s ability to glorify God by sacrificially loving the world around them.
Though the American and East Asian churches who were part of both these donations are continents apart, their unity in Christ has blessed many people in need. May that be said of many churches around the world when this season draws to a close.
*Names changed or withheld for security