The first sign of disaster has appeared: Cries of the Poor in Developing Countries during the Pandemic

Medical workers treated the sick after putting on their personal protective equipment (Photo from CEDAR’s partner)

Medical workers treated the sick after putting on their personal protective equipment (Photo from CEDAR’s partner)

 

“For poor places, [the spread of COVID-19] implies calamity.”

‘The Next Calamity’, The Economist, 28th March

 

Globalisation has made it impossible for any one country to avoid the risk of being affected by contagious diseases. When there is a pandemic, developed countries can still make use of their resources to procure pandemic prevention materials. They can also utilise their financial reserves to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on their medical systems and economies.

 

For many poor and densely populated developing countries, their medical systems were already vulnerable even before the pandemic and there had always been a lack of social welfare. When this pandemic of the century strikes, its impact on societies and people’s livelihoods are disastrous, as noted by the Economist.

 

The reality is that the first sign of disaster has already appeared.

Continue reading The first sign of disaster has appeared: Cries of the Poor in Developing Countries during the Pandemic

Serving beyond Your Ability

[“SHARE” APR – JUN 2020 ] BACK TO THE BIBLE

Written by: Raymond Kwong (Chief Executive)

 

Over the past nearly 30 years, CEDAR has participated in over 100 relief campaigns and the most touching thing for us is seeing the disaster-stricken victims help each other. They do not worry about what will happen to them next, instead, they make every endeavour to help those around them. Even though they barely have enough for themselves, they still try to help others, which is not an easy thing to do. This spirit of selflessness is a grace from God.

 

In the Bible, the Macedonian churches are an exemplar of selflessness. In 2 Corinthians 8, the apostle Paul described how the Macedonian churches served the poor Christian believers in Jerusalem. Back then, there was a great famine in the land of Palestine. With that and the long-standing religious persecution, the Christians in Judah were living in extreme poverty. Therefore, when Paul was preaching, he encouraged churches in other places to lend a helping hand to the churches in Jerusalem. The Macedonian churches were among those who responded to Paul’s appeal.

 

After Macedonia was defeated by Rome, the region became very poor and the local churches were in extreme poverty, and were facing a “very severe trial” of religious persecution (v. 2). Even when they were unable to fend for themselves, the churches in Macedonia still made donations to the churches in Jerusalem. They even urgently pleaded with Paul for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people (v. 4). Therefore, Paul testified that they gave as much as they were able, and ‘“even beyond their ability”’ (v. 3), which is the kind of attitude of serving that is pleasing to the Lord.

 

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has made people in Hong Kong feel helpless, worried and even frightened. While we rely on God to face challenges during this long and arduous period, we can also learn to practise the spirit of serving “beyond our ability”. Sharing your stock of masks with others is one example. Apart from the needy in Hong Kong, people in other countries also need our care and services, especially our neighbours in mainland China – one of the places most severely affected by the coronavirus. We cordially invite you to pray for them, and find ways to show them your care. If everyone serves “beyond their ability”, we will still be able to experience the joy and grace from God during this difficult time.

 

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The Trap of Discrimination in Poverty Alleviation

[“SHARE” JUL – SEP 2019 ] BACK TO THE BIBLE

Written by: Wance Kwan (Assistant Professor [Practical Studies], China Graduate School of Theology)

 

“If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:3-4)

 

If you are one of the few in your church who are involved in poverty alleviation work, you may be angry with the snobs in the scripture above. You might probably think that you would never be like them. However, have you ever thought that always putting the poor at the receiving end can also be considered as a form of discrimination? Such attitude of judging people by their outward appearances is being challenged in James 2:1 as favoritism.

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Environment protection: All about Love and Justice

(Photo taken in Kurigram District of northern Bangladesh)

Written by Tony Chan (Senior Partnership Development Officer)

 

Friends asked me, “Your organisation (CEDAR Fund) is for poverty alleviation. Why does it actively promote environment protection?”

 

This is closely related to CEDAR’s understanding of poverty. We believe that poverty is resulted from an impaired relationship. In the beginning of creation, relationships between man and God, man and man, and man and nature were good. However, man sinned and disobeyed God, and even exploited others and the nature for their own benefits. Those who were exploited became the poor.

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When Poverty Becomes a Sin

The author (far right) and other trippers visited ethnic minorities in northern Thailand

 

[“SHARE” JUL – SEP 2019 ] TAKING ACTION

Written by: Janice Cheng (participant of CEDAR’s exposure trip in 2018; church pastor)

 

In December last year, I went to the Thai-Myanmar border with CEDAR to learn about their poverty alleviation projects in the area. The 8-day trip enabled me to understand more about the region. We visited some villages with CEDAR’s local partners and spoke to various individuals during our time there.

 

The residents are mostly ethnic minority groups from the mountainous areas, and they all have their own predicaments to overcome. There are abandoned single mothers and minority groups who have been relocated to the border area in northern Thailand due to warfare and other problems. Since they have not been granted Thai citizenship, they do not enjoy any social welfare, employment or education benefits or support.

Continue reading When Poverty Becomes a Sin