Christian ministers worldwide are facing destitution and even starvation as COVID-19 has destroyed their source of income.
As churches around the world have been forced to close by the virus, tithes and other giving from churchgoers have dried up for ministers, says Christian charity Open Doors UK & Ireland.
Open Doors’ Asia Communications Director Jan Vermeer said: “Normally, when Christians suffer the church is where they turn to for help.
“But with COVID-19, the church pastors can barely look after their own families never mind the streams of people who come knocking on their doors for help.
“Everywhere we turn we’re seeing the same dire situation. Pastors whose income is based solely on giving from members of the church don’t have anything to eat.”
Pastor Joel*, from India, is one of many who have seen their earnings disappear.
“The church has had to be closed, leaving us with no support or any source of provision.
“As a family we cried unto God for his help and provision.”
With their main source of income gone many pastors have looked for jobs but have been unable to work with the coronavirus also putting daily wage earners out of work.
“I am involved in pastoral ministry, and due to the lockdown, we are unable to continue with ministry or any church activities.
“We are left with no source of income and are unable to meet the family needs, there are even no menial jobs to earn money.
“There were various relief distributions carried out by the local administration but we were not given priority and were ignored for being Christians.”
In sub-Saharan Africa the pandemic has also had similarly severe implications for churches.
“Because of sharply reduced income, churches have been unable to pay pastors and other church workers,” said Jo Newhouse, spokesperson for the region.
Pastor Adane, who has been a minister in rural Ethiopia for 20 years, has experienced this first-hand.
“Because of Covid-19, the church is in great trouble,”
“While churches were closed as part of the government lockdown, nobody could come to church. We had no income to pay the pastors and evangelists.
“Before, there were people who helped support ministry workers, but now they have stopped.
“The church used to have many streams of income but now it has all stopped.”
Open Doors teams and local partners have been distributing essential relief aid to persecuted Christians since the COVID-19 crisis began.